Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)
What is integrated coastal zone management?  

Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) is by no means a new concept, having first been proposed over thirty years ago. It has only been since 150 government leaders signed the Convention of Biological Diversity at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that there was official acknowledgement of the need for a more holistic approach to conservation.

The convention incorporated the idea that mankind is a valid component of each ecosystem in which it exists for future conservation efforts.
The purpose of ICZM is to achieve cooperative management of coastal zones, providing a means of balancing social and economic demands with the sustainable use of coastal ecosystems thus ensuring their use for present and future generations. ICZM recognizes the necessity to tackle issues that cross the boundary between land and the oceans.

©2006 J. Berman

Although ICZM refers to “management”, the ICZM process covers the full process from initial information gathering to monitoring of implementation of management measures. The European Commission has defined Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) as “A dynamic, multi-disciplinary and iterative process to promote sustainable management of coastal zones. It covers the full cycle of information collection, planning (in its broadest sense), decision-making, management and monitoring of implementation. ICZM uses the informed participation and co-operation of all stakeholders to assess the societal goals in a given coastal area, and to take actions towards meeting these objectives. ICZM seeks, over the long-term, to balance environmental, economic, social cultural and recreational objectives, all within the limits set by natural dynamics.”

The aim of ICZM is to integrate planning and management within a region across the land and sea interface, so that catchments, coastal lands and adjacent marine waters can be treated as one biophysical entity.

The ICZM framework involves consideration of the following five core components when developing management and planning arrangements within the coastal zone:
• a systems component, which considers the interactions between human uses, natural systems, pressures and assessment of risk;
• a balanced component, which considers social and economic requirements and implications;
• a strategic component, which considers key issues and challenges and how we need to respond;
• a partnership component, which recognizes the importance of working together across all levels of government, industry and the community; and
• a jurisdictional component, which recognizes the role of management agencies and the coordination of legal and consultative arrangements.

Why is ICZM necessary?  
What is sustainable development?

The concept of sustainable development acknowledges the principle that environmental objectives and socio-economic well-being are inherently linked.

The coastal areas of the world, some 356,000 km, are varied and fragile ecosystems that sustain an incredible diversity of flora and fauna; they are home to a large percentage of the world population, a major source of food and raw materials, a vital link for trade and transport, and a favoured destination for leisure time. They are influenced by a myriad of interrelated driving forces and pressures including hydrological, geomorphologic, socio-economic, administrative, institutional and cultural systems. Presently both the terrestrial and marine aspects of coastal areas are subject to a number of various environmental and human pressures. These pressures are leading to the degradation of coastal habitats causing loss of fisheries resources, reduced water quality and quantity, accelerated erosion and accumulation of pollution.
Responsibility for many of the causative factors involved in this habitat degradation lies with mankind. It is presently estimated that 60% of the global population now live within 60 km of the coast and this number is increasing. In recent years, growing expendable incomes and the advent of cheaper travel has led to some coastal areas becoming inundated with transient seasonal populations.
In the Mediterranean alone, population increases due to seasonal tourism range from 157% in Italy to a massive 765% in Monaco. This has led to an unabated (and often unplanned) development and conversion of natural coastlines to artificial structures that has led to the creation of the “Med wall”, where over 50% of the coastline is now dominated by concrete structures. This development has contributed to the destruction of two thirds of European wetlands during the last century.

Uncontrolled development - whether from tourism or other sectors - can rapidly overburden the natural carrying capacity of coastal zones, polluting and degrading natural resources and eventually reducing the quality of life for residents. This kind of pressure can lead to the degradation of the resource base that supports sustainable economic activity, including the attributes of the coastal zone that attract tourists and the environment that supports fish nurseries. This problem is particularly significant in areas that are undergoing rapid economic expansion, such as along the Mediterranean coast and in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Destructive fishing practices, overexploitation of marine resources, maritime pollution, industrial and municipal waste, desertification, climate change and rising sea levels also present equally important threats to coastal ecosystems. About 80% of marine pollution is from land-based activities, agricultural run-off and municipal and industrial waste being two of the greatest contributors; not only does this impact on these already fragile ecosystems but it can also have serious consequences for human health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that some 250 million clinical cases of mild gastroenteritis and upper respiratory disease are caused every year by bathing in contaminated seawater.

• According to studies of the potential socioeconomic value of ICZM, the estimated gross annual benefits of ICZM (including habitat protection, local business and tourism) could be worth up to EUR 4.2 billion for the European Union alone.

How is ICZM implemented and who is involved?  
ICZM can only be achieved through constant collaboration and communication between those who develop coastal zone policies, the scientific community and relevant stakeholder. The European Commissions Demonstration Programme on ICZM, launched in 1996, provides an illustration of the issues affecting coastal zones and effective strategies to ensure efficient management for both present and future generations.

The Demonstration Programme involved 35 projects to demonstrate the application of ICZM using a series of cross-cutting thematic analyses and research projects, these studies were complemented by regular meetings with an experts group (consisting of national experts and representatives of local administrations, of socio- economic actors, and of NGOs) and by extensive contact with other outside organizations. The Demonstration Programme was also designed to document and assess the hypothesis that the continued degradation and
Factors to be taken into consideration for efficient implementation of ICZM:
• Environmental Issues (water quality, erosion, conservation of biodiversity)
• Social Issues (tourism, job creation etc…)
• Economic Issues (regional prosperity, port development etc…)

mismanagement of many of Europe’s coastal areas can be traced to problems related to: Insufficient or inappropriate information about the state of the coastal zones and also about the impact of human activities (both economic and non-economic), Insufficient coordination between different levels and sectors of administration, and their policies and Insufficient participation and consultation of the relevant stakeholders

The European Communities Demonstration Programme identified seven key principles that must be implemented in order for effective and sustainable management of coastal zones:

  • Take a wide-ranging perspective: In practice, projects most commonly select the boundaries that are the simplest to manage – frequently administrative boundaries. However, administrative boundaries do not generally coincide with boundaries of natural or social systems. The Wadden Sea project is based on the natural entity that also is subject to the Trilateral Cooperation on ministerial level between Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.
  • Build on an understanding of specific conditions in the area of interest: Appropriate management of the coastal zone requires developing an understanding of the specific characteristics of the area in question, as well as an appreciation of the pressures and driving forces that are influencing its dynamics, including those that come from outside of the local area. In the Strymonikos Gulf, river borne pollution derived from agricultural runoff in Bulgaria is affecting the quality of coastal waters.
  • Work with natural processes: Successful coastal zone management is based rather on an understanding of the natural processes and dynamics of coastal systems; by working with these processes, rather than against them, it increases the long-term options, by making our activities more environmentally sustainable and more economically profitable in the long run.
  • Ensure that decisions taken today do not foreclose options for the future: Coastal zone management must acknowledge the uncertainty of future conditions and promote sufficiently flexible management. At the same time, action must be taken in accordance with the “precautionary principle”, which states that rather than await certainty, regulators should act in anticipation of any potential harm in order to prevent it
  • Use of participatory planning to develop consensus: Participatory planning gathers the opinions and perspectives of all of the relevant stakeholders into the planning process, this involvement helps builds commitment and shared responsibility, harnesses local knowledge and helps to ensure identification of real issues and tends to lead to more implementable solutions.
  • Ensure the support and involvement of all relevant administrative bodies: Almost all of the Demonstration Programme project leaders have affirmed that coastal zone management is not effective unless supported by all levels of administration (EU, regional, national, local), as well as by all of the relevant sectoral branches of administration concerned with the target coastal area.
  • Use a combination of instruments: Coastal zone management can only succeed through the use of multiple instruments, including a mix of legal, economic instruments, voluntary agreements, information provision, technological solutions, research and education.
The “Process” of ICZM:

The ICZM process starts with the awareness of issues of common concern, which facilitates a dialogue and exchange of views among interested and affected parties, which in turn supports cooperation amongst the parties. This is the basis for coordination of action, which - in time - fosters integration of management

References and Links:

MEDASSET wishes to acknowledge Damien Scullion for his volunteer assistance in the development of the conservation web pages.

International Conference on Integrated Coastal Zone Management
November 23-24, 2006

The Sixth Environment Action Programme of the European Community 2002-2012

Documents related to Europe's Marine Strategy

Mediterranean SOS

ENCORA (European Network

NW Europe ICZM

Baltic states ICZM

Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council Concerning the Implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe: 30 May 2002

Evaluation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in Europe

Canada BC

Progress in implementation EU ICZM Recommendations, Nov 2005

The state of European coasts

Communication from the Commission - Report to the European Parliament and the Council: an evaluation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in Europe (2007)
or (pdf)