International Development Planning Review

From policy to implementation: the case of developing watercourses towards multi-functionality in flood-afflicted Taiwan

International Development Planning Review (2011), 33, (2), 213–239.

Abstract

A nationwide policy has been implemented in Taiwan to promote the development of multi-functional watercourses towards flood protection, biodiversity and recreation. However, actual practice remains largely unchanged. As governance plays a major role in determining the fulfilment of the new agenda, little is known about the government's actual execution of this watercourse policy. Therefore, this qualitative study explores what governmental factors influence the performance and extent to which they affect the process from policy to implementation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 42 professionals from a national watercourse-related advisory group, all-level governments, academia, NGOs, and industry. Several empirical issues are revealed. The overly decentralised administrative structure causes a narrow sectoral decision-making process. The flood control-oriented legal system leads to hard-engineered watercourses. Financial shortages in local government, and partial completion of projects, constrain the practical application of eco-engineering techniques. A more thorough policy framework is needed to increase the significance of promoting multi-functional watercourses in the overall policy prioritisation. Hence, how the government handles such issues is important to fulfil policy targets. Through reflection on Taiwan's experiences, this paper might inform future discussions on watercourse development in typhoon-affected, flood-afflicted East Asian countries.

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Chou, Rung-Jiun