What is Integrated Coastal Zone Management?
The delicate equilibrium that exists in the coastal environment (being the transition point between the land and the sea), coupled with the multiple activities that make use of these resources requires a holistic approach, as opposed to a sectoral approach, for effective management. This necessitates a need to address the existing biological, physical, social and economic characteristics present within this identified geographical area. Consideration of the legal and administrative systems that are affecting this area is essential to identify the best practical mechanism for its strategic management. Most importantly policy co-ordination is a key factor to ensure integration of socio-economic and environmental issues within any measure affecting the coastal zone, be it a strategic plan (e.g. for port development) or a more local one for e.g. a beach management plan. Coastal zone management can be defined as the holistic process that aims to promote and maintain the sustainable development of a defined coastal area.
Due to the diversity of activities and actions required to adopt effective Integrated Coastal Zone Management, no specific global agreement targeting ICZM has been developed. However there are three main documents at the United Nations level that focus on sustainable development of the coastal and marine environment at a global level: the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and Chapter 17 of Agenda 21.