Why are Institutional frameworks important to us?
If we are to work together to achieve healthy landscapes and viable communities in the future, institutional frameworks need to be responsive to a region under pressure economically, socially and environmentally.
The Regional NRM Plan is an essential tool to inform these frameworks and structures in order to support a regional wide commitment to sustainable development. This section of the Plan provides a roadmap for community, industry, investors, commercial business and government to implement natural resource management within institutional frameworks identified as crucial to the region’s present and future wellbeing.
Institutional frameworks are important for they determine the manner in which organisations, groups, governments, investors, insurance companies, industries and businesses respond to and govern on social, economic and environmental matters and implement key legislation, policy, plans, strategies and programmes Managing the region’s natural resources across stakeholders requires these frameworks to openly share information, extend technical and scientific knowledge and experience, and secure the trust and confidence of the region as a community.
Strengthening the institutional frameworks with the Plan area requires the region to prepare and plan for the management of natural resource assets and climate change, including increased climate variability and extreme weather events. Natural resource management targets and management actions, mitigation and adaptation policies, strategies and programmes need to be core to business and sustainable practices guided by natural resource management institutional frameworks and associated governance structures.
QMDC is the lead natural resource management organisation in the Border Rivers and Maranoa-Balonne, and as such this section does focus on the role of QMDC as an institutional framework in achieving the community’s goals.
NRM institutional frameworks are needed to improve funding arrangements and natural disaster strategies and policies in order to enhance community civil protection, environmental protection and sustainable agriculture efforts. QMDC recognises that climate change, NRM governance and planning, environmental management systems, land condition assessments are very important aspects to disaster preparedness and relief funding through the lens of improved climate adaption.
Although community groups in the region have responded to crises and associated inquiries on natural disaster policies and strategies, community clearly requires NRM programs to address the root causes of on-going rural and regional social, economic and environmental issues and not merely the symptoms. NRM institutional arrangements are needed to implement programs and support which enact proactive planning measures. A key example of this is the redesigning of infrastructure to ensure minimal impact on overland water flow – particularly in flood events.
If current farming systems and all the other systems which are reliant upon them need to be altered to maintain sustainability in a variable climate, NRM frameworks must influence rural policy, land-use planning and development conditions, in order to address the root causes of rural and regional socio-economic failures and their co-relation to natural disaster impacts.
More robust proactive measures and institutional frameworks will be needed in future to limit the potential negative consequences of climate change otherwise natural disaster events will become more prevalent in areas that currently have been managed within the response capacity of state emergency services in southern Queensland.
Modelling of scenarios by CSIRO (2015) where there are further elevated atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations clearly shows more climate change and more extreme weather events in the future for the Queensland Murray Darling Basin.
The community realises that more potential for disasters does not necessarily mean more disasters – the key link is how regions and communities reduce their vulnerability and prepare to cope with impacts. Given the possible climate changes, further and improved mitigation and adaptation measures are needed. Improving policy on, for example, housing designs in risk zones, or farm forestry practices in fire danger zones, bank loans in drought conditions will help to manage and account for regional risks.
Putting climate change risks, mitigation and adaptation high on the core NRM business agenda will ensure the region’s NRM institutional frameworks will be relevant and responsive to the future needs of the region.
Well-designed institutional frameworks provide opportunities for collaborative planning across the region and create space for innovation. They can develop new and responsive market instruments for addressing NRM. Institutional frameworks connect community voice with government, industry and business and can help to define and clarify roles and responsibilities between organisations.
Characteristics of Effective Institutional Frameworks:
Effective institutional frameworks will build on the strengths and successes of the NRM and sustainable development best practices of the region’s community groups, businesses and industry etc. Effectiveness and efficiency rely on:
- NRM programmes being outcome focussed, inclusive and scientifically intelligent.
- NRM institutional frameworks which, are energy giving and honour community good will and volunteer labour.
- NRM roles, responsibilities and decision making powers across the region being clearly understood by all stakeholders. It is important that employees with environmental management roles know who to network with and are empowered to network with persons in similar or relevant roles in regards to NRM in the region.
- NRM collaboration and partnerships being rewarded and actively encouraged.
The nature and scope of these relationships needs to be clearly understood e.g. who plays what role under natural disaster funding arrangements.
- NRM institutional frameworks improving the structures, business efficiency, service delivery and practices of government departments, organisations, businesses etc. While incremental changes may be important, in relation to climate change they are likely not to be sufficient. Based on future climate projections more transformative reform is needed urgently.
- NRM managers being knowledgeable and approachable, providing information that promotes how, e.g. industry, businesses can be involved in NRM.
- Innovative skills being shared and transferrable between sectors and implemented from one field of expertise to another.
- Understanding that ‘how’ NRM is implemented is as important as ‘to what’ a NRM programme consists of.
- Community engagement in proactive policy advocacy and development being encouraged and valued by government, industry, business and other stakeholders. Community does not need to be consumed by unsatisfactory reactive legislative processes that provide unreasonable timeframes for community consultation and engagement on key policy issues.