The Implementation Challenge - Taking stock of government policies to protect and restore environmental flows
Despite this significant policy development, in the majority of cases environmental flow provisions remain at the stage of policy and debate rather than implementation. Indeed, the defining characteristic of many contexts globally is precisely the lack of progress in translating these policies and intentions into action. While there has been progress in some places in capping future water development in recognition of environmental needs, successful re-allocation of water or re-operation of infrastructure in systems that are already stressed has been infrequent. Several related obstacles present challenges to the implementation of environmental flow policies across the world. These include a lack of political will and stakeholder support; insufficient resources and capacity, in water management and allocation institutions generally, and for the delivery of those functions tasked with assessing and enforcing environmental requirements;and, institutional barriers and conflicts of interest.
On the basis of a number of international reviews, and the case studies and analysis undertaken for this report, a number of guidelines emerge for advancing implementation of environmental flows.