This paper describes methods and processes to link policy development to the implementation of those policies in actionable implementation plans. It is shown that policies can only be implemented effectively if they are embedded in a legal framework that is designed to facilitate achievement of the policy objectives. The paper shows different levels of policy making and decision support for the development of policies at different levels, ranging from the level of Federal States in Germany to policy development and implementation at the European level as part of the European Framework Directive. Using the Elbe River as a case study, the paper shows the need to anchor regional, transboundary and state level policies to mandated national institutions. A key lesson learnt from the Elbe River Basin is that policy integration is of utmost importance. The paper also demonstrates that a balance needs to be reached with regard to structural and nonstructural measures in flood risk management to arrive at a truly integrated flood risk management strategy and its implementation. The development of research policies on the basis of sound science is indispensable in support of policy development and its implementation.