In ideal circumstances, the project boundaries are defined to
include ecosystems in their entirety – for example an estuary
and its watershed. In practice this is often not feasible and
the boundaries of the area of focus are determined by
administrative boundaries – such as those of a municipality or a
protected area – and may contain portions of several ecosystems.
There are two essential principles that should guide the
definition of the Action Area : the first is that the spatial
extent of the area to be addressed must be within the capacity
of the initiative to analyze and in which it can hope to
influence the trajectory of change ; the second is that both the
analysis and the subsequent plan of action must always consider
forces and interdependencies at the next bigger spatial
Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, through the UNEP/ MAP system, have committed themselves to the implementation of an ecosystem approach (EcAp) as a strategy for a comprehensive and integrated management of activities influencing the marine and coastal ecosystems. They have decided to progressively apply the EcAp to the management of human activities in the Mediterranean, with the ultimate objective to achieve a Good Environmental Status (GES) of the Mediterranean Sea. The practice of the ecosystem-based approach though ICZM must recognize that a web of forces and inter-relationships shapes what occurs in a given area of focus and the larger context must always be appreciated and factored into the analysis and the selection of the actions that may be taken. Therefore, the selected ICZM criteria should consider the ‘area of focus’ within which the ICZM initiative is taking place, at least including the next bigger scale or beyond, depending on the conditions prevailing at regional and even global scales (for instance, with regard to climate change).
Project awareness and support are essential at local level
within the groups that will be most affected by the
implementation of the project. Depending upon the scope of the
project and the significance of its actions, awareness and
support may also need to be built among the general public. In
any case, total agreement is impossible and success lies in
constructing a project that is perceived to addressing issues
that are important to the society in a manner that is seen to be
fair and effective. Awareness and support will directly depend
on the pre-existing forms of governance.
Embedded in the general principles of the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the Mediterranean, governance is a fundamental cross-cutting concept. Governance is about power, relationships and accountability: who has influence, who decides, and how decision-makers are held accountable. It therefore addresses the values, policies, laws and institutions by which a set of issues are addressed involving the marketplace, the government, and the institutions and arrangements of civil society. Governance sets the stage within which management occurs. Good governance is a fair and effective way of exercising governing powers (means) in order to meet the objectives (ends) of any managed area. It is founded upon the capacity and reliability of governing institutions to effectively respond to problems and achieve social unity through various forms of consultation, negotiation and multi-party agreements. Good governance practices may be expected to bring additional benefits of strengthened systems of participatory management. The induced changes in behaviour can increase the standard of living of coastal residents by improving for instance food security and provide opportunities to generate income through supplemental employment.
The project needs to be recognized as important and legitimate
by key institutions and authorities, namely by a formal
decision, decree, or some other binding document in the
governance hierarchy (county, province, region, national level)
where the project must find its place within pre-existing
institutional policy and programmes.
Once the policies and initial plan of action have been negotiated, authorities (local, sub-national, national) must formally provide the responsible institutions with the necessary mandate to allocate natural resources, regulate their use, mediate conflicts and provide the necessary human and financial resources to implement the project. The creation of commissions, working groups, user organizations and NGOs dedicated to the advancement of a plan of action are other important expressions of commitment, well- articulated through what is called ‘institutional arrangements’.
The ICZM Process continuously builds the capacity of all actors
and stakeholders , to identify the forces that are shaping the
coastal ecosystems of which they are a part and select the
actions that can maintain and enhance the qualities that are
critical to a desirable future.
Capabilities are needed in conflict resolution, the ability to manage interdisciplinary teams, the design and implementation of public action programmes, the oversight of specific development projects, and the ability to evaluate the performance of contractors. The long-time frames and complexities of ecosystem-based management demand knowledge and skills to adapt to changing conditions and to the learning that emerges from the programme or project’s own experience (adaptive management).
A long term vision must be negotiated and identified amongst all
concerned and committed stakeholders. The long term vision is
underpinned by clear goals that should define the qualities of
the environment and the societal conditions that the project is
working to achieve. The setting up of such an efficient
monitoring system, when achieved, would constitute success. The
performance of any project can be assessed only if there are
objectives and verifiable data that are revealing of the
dynamics within both the project and the ecosystem it is
attempting to influence. This calls for the documentation of
baselines / initial state of societal and environmental
conditions. The purpose of such baselines and the subsequent
monitoring of selected variables are: (1) to promote learning
within the project, its partners and its constituency, (2) to
provide a foundation for the practice of adaptive governance
and, (3) to make the project accountable to its funders and
A full suite of social and environmental indicators have been selected and consistently monitored to assess progress: within the EcAp process of the Barcelona Convention there are 11 ecological objectives, operational objectives and indicators, setting the targets for achieving GES of the Mediterranean Sea and its coastal zone. An Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (IMAP) ensures a common assessment basis in the Mediterranean countries, providing guidance on how to practically implement quantitative monitoring and assessment of the ecological status of the Mediterranean Sea and coast in line with the EcAp. Besides the ecological status, a complete set of baselines should include as well the following socio-economic assessments:
In the framework of the CAMP Italy project, a definition of LSI
was proposed as follows: “interactions in which land-based
natural phenomena or human activities have an influence or an
impact on the marine environment, resources and activities and
interactions in which marine natural phenomena or human
activities have an influence or an impact on the terrestrial
environment, resources and activities”. In other words, as in
the case of MSP, LSI analysis is not a new discipline or
requirement, but it is an intrinsic component of the ICZM
process, which is needed to ensure that the land and sea
components of the coastal area are planned and managed in a
coherent way. A tiered and flexible approach, embedded in the
methodological guidelines, is proposed by PAP/RAC for an LSI
The Conceptual Framework for MSP in the Mediterranean adopted in 2017 by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention highlights two major interactions occurring between land and sea: (i) land-sea natural processes and (ii) land and sea uses and activities. MSP is being introduced within the Barcelona Convention System, as the main tool/process for the implementation of ICZM in the marine part of the coastal zone, thus contributing to the balance between environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development.
The EU Directive 2014/89/EU on Maritime Spatial Planning specifies that the planning process should take into account land-sea interactions (LSI) (Find out more on the EU MSP Platform). Although the ICZM Protocol does not expressly include an LSI definition, this can be indirectly derived from Article 2 through the interpretation of the given definitions of “coastal zone” and “integrated coastal zone management”.
A major component of Agenda 21, Chapter 17 (Rio, 1992), together with the Convention on Biological Diversity, the preservation of marine and coastal biodiversity is one of the fundamental goals of ICZM hence the Mediterranean ICZM Protocol. This is as well a transposition of the provisions under the Barcelona Convention itself, whose Article 10 provides that “the Contracting Parties shall, individually or jointly, take all appropriate measures to protect and preserve biological diversity, rare or fragile ecosystems, as well as species of wild fauna and flora which are rare, depleted, threatened or endangered and their habitats, in the area to which this Convention applies”. Marine protected areas (MPAs) and Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) are important means of protecting coastal and marine biodiversity. Designing a network of marine protected areas that considers both socioeconomic and biodiversity factors has moved to the forefront of systematic conservation planning hence the use of ICZM.
The Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Mediterranean Sea and Coast and Related Assessment Criteria (IMAP) describes the strategy, themes, and products that the Barcelona Convention Contracting Parties are aiming to deliver in the name of the Ecosystem Approach (EcAp). Among its 11 Ecological Objectives (EOs), the first one (EO1) is related to Biodiversity, to ensure that biological diversity is maintained or enhanced. The quality and occurrence of coastal and marine habitats and the distribution and abundance of coastal and marine species are in line with prevailing physiographic, hydrographic, geographic and climatic conditions. The 2017 Quality Status Report (QSR2017) is the first report on the establishment of the status of the IMAP-based Ecological Objectives (EOs). Regarding the EO on Biodiversity, it clearly stressed the need to increase the geographical coverage of protection establishing new arrays and networks of well-managed MPAs, meaning where the ecosystem approach and ICZM principles should apply.
Since tackling climate change and fostering sustainable
development are said to be the two sides of the same coin ICZM
is actually the coin itself. ICZM aims to facilitate sustainable
coastal development, for which impacts of the
climate change and adaptation
to it are becoming the key priority.
The ICZM Protocol provides provisions on the protection of the coastal zone, of related economic activities and of specific coastal ecosystems, on the prevention and response to natural hazards including the prevention and adaptation measures to address the effects of climate change(PAP/RAC has prepared Guidelines for Adapting to Climate Variability and Change along the Mediterranean Coast ).
When trying to deal with climate variability and change, we are obviously in a transboundary context, where tools and processes are needed to foster co-operation between neighbouring States. For instance Strategic Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEA and EIA) are both processes that allow for consultations to be carried out.
Changing the behaviour of the groups and sectors that make
direct use of the goods and services that coastal ecosystems
generate should be the focal point of project implementation.
User groups tend to comply more with laws and regulations that
they consider to be ‘legitimate’. Legitimacy and voluntary
compliance are based on: (1) a common understanding of the basic
nature and extent of the issue(s) at stake, which suppose an
equal level of information, (2) procedures for developing and
implementing management perceived to be fair and, (3) management
measures perceived to be effective and making a significant
contribution to the achievement of the desired results. A
communication strategy is therefore essential for visibility and
appropriation, and dissemination of good practices developed by
Since 2008, the Mediterranean Coast Day is celebrated yearly, on September 25th. The event aims at increasing environmental awareness among policy makers, academia, media, NGOs and the local populations. Promoting and implementing activities that at the same time treasure fragile ecological, social and cultural contexts, should lead to a sustainable coastal development. Thus, a special emphasis was placed on the media
The lack of human capacity to practice the ecosystem approach is
a key factor limiting forward progress in the conservation and
sustainable use of coastal systems. Capacity building is
indispensable all along the duration of the project and beyond,
in strengthening the knowledge, the abilities, relationships and
values that enable organisations, groups and individuals to
reach their goals, addressing themes related to the functions
and change of ecosystems, the governance processes, the
tailoring of strategies to the history and culture of the place,
or the assembling and managing of interdisciplinary teams.
Practically, capacity must first be instilled within individuals
and then expressed through institutions. Learning-by-doing,
complemented by education, specialised training and exchanges
among practitioners together form effective strategies when they
are tailored to the identified needs in the different sectors
and specific places. Still, much that is being learned is
undocumented and remains within the personal experience of the
individuals concerned. Many funding organisations keep focused
on the final outputs (e.g. more fish, restored environmental
conditions, higher incomes) in the short timeframe of a highly
funded project. They most of the time underestimate the
challenges of achieving the specific changes in the practices
required of specific groups and their institutions within a
Awareness-raising, training, education and research (Article 15, ICZM Protocol) on ICZM are key to foster interdisciplinary research to feed evidenced-based decision making. For instance, MedOpen is an on-line training course developed by PAP/RAC and being implemented since 2004, aiming at assisting Mediterranean countries in building capacities for coastal management.
The following list of tools and mechanisms is not exhaustive but it regards those that are usually used in an ICZM-like project. On the other hand, it does not mean that all of them have to be necessarily used. Their development and use should be adapted to the needs of the project and its stakeholders through the successive and iterative steps of the ICZM process. The more they will be supported by a strong information and communication system sustaining stakeholders’ sense of ownership and participation, the more they will be efficient.
Following the ICZM Protocol, the ICZM Process is described in the Coastal Wiki (http://www.coastalwiki.org/wiki) : it is structured into 5 key stages from the project ‘Establishment’ to ‘Realising the vision’ of the project.
Cooperation and participation tools and mechanisms (together with information collection) are among the most expensive and time-consuming elements of an ICZM initiative. There is need for an explicit strategy on how this fundamental aspect of the ICZM process should function and develop.
DPSIR (driving forces, pressures, state, impact, and response) may be adequately simplified in a pressure, state, response (PSR) framework for initial analysis and for framing productive discussion and analysis with a diversity of stakeholders.
The identification of pressures require quantification in many areas. However, spatial disaggregation of relevant data, trends or information to the local coastal level may not always be possible. Approximations in the form of simple categories (e.g. low, medium, high) or simple numerical scales (such as 0 to 3) may be appropriate in communicating with non-technical stakeholders (see the Blue Plan’s “Imagine” systemic and sustainability analysis method) and assessing the cumulative impact of pressures on a specific ecosystem.
Assessments are a broad category of tools for collecting raw data and transforming them into useful information. They include environmental impact assessment (EIA), strategic environmental assessment (SEA), resource accounting, valuation exercises, spatial impact assessment, risk assessment, and cost/benefit exercises. All assessments rely upon the existence of a solid base of data, and an accurate understanding of the natural and human systems and dynamics that affect the target area. Appropriate long-term programmes (like IMAP) for improved basic data collection and research are needed to provide the basis for good assessments, the outputs of which are normally sufficient to give an indication of probable trends. Nevertheless, assessments should not be seen as formula for making decisions, in lieu of a consultative/participatory process. Their purpose is to inform the political and societal debate.
Land-sea interface (LSI) is a complex phenomenon, involving both natural processes across the land-sea interface and the impact of human activities in this zone. When linking ICZM with Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), the stake is to first seek to understand the dynamics involved, and, secondly, find institutional mechanisms that are most suited to addressing LSI within the governance context. There may be a range of options available, involving different spatial scales of intervention.
Good, verified, and objective information sets the scene for well-founded decision making and sustainable management hence is at the core of the full ICZM cycle. In the inception phase, information is needed to get people interested, develop their awareness of issues and problems and convince them of the need to establish and participate in an ICZM initiative. In the implementation phase, the type of information required includes not only pressure and state information, but also transparency about the activities of administrations and information about behavioural patterns and expectations of socio-economic actors and the public. Although there is a need for more information to support ICZM, particularly for good quality maps, much can be achieved by making better use of that which exists already.
Many elements of the private sector have a large economic stake in decisions about management of the coastal zone. Many of these actors also have the political power to block actions via pressure on sectoral administrations. In addition, the environmental business sector has a particular role to play in sustainable development of the coastal zones, through promotion of new ‘green’ or ‘blue’ technologies. For these reasons, it is important to engage the private sector as active partners in the ICZM process. Their participation can frequently also bring financial resources for implementation activities.
Provision of special planning zones and coastal setbacks (ICZM Protocol ‘flagship provision’) are valuable coastal management tools but may need to be adapted to the coastal system in question, in conformity with the general principle that ICZM needs to take a system perspective.
Economic instruments include taxes, subsidies, and rebate systems, as well as the creation of tradable permits. These instruments can be harnessed to provide incentives for ICZM, to redirect the drive for economic profit so that it supports human well-being. Their use is contingent on adequate information about the societal costs and benefits of different coastal activities, in order to set fair levels for taxes and subsidies.
There is a need for coordination of and cooperation between the many individuals and organizations involved in knowledge production, particularly to address ecosystem-based issues. Research proposals should include a clear statement of how the results will be applied to the problem and who will benefit, and a clear diffusion plan for dissemination of results to both other research and to end users. Science-policy interfaces (SPIs) are tools that can be used to promote exchanges between scientists and policy makers. Though they are mainly dealt with at regional level (networks, platforms), they may be articulated at local level through involving public policy makers in projects from the outset, and including social scientists in research projects to facilitate communication between scientists, policy makers and the public at large.
ICZM cannot work without widespread public support to motivate participation and to give legitimacy to the process itself. It is therefore essential to raise the general public awareness of both the importance of the problems in the coastal zone (including climate change impacts), and the potential of ICZM to change them. To achieve this, an overt diffusion of information about early benefits or long term economic advantages of ICZM is one mean of increasing support for an ICZM initiative through, for example and besides of course social networks, traditional media, the establishment of visitors’ centres, or the labelling for good practices. Educational systems will also have an important role in bringing about the needed changes in everyday attitude through school curricula but also in bringing schools into local ICZM initiatives.