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3. Summary guidelines


Coastal areas are diverse in function and form, dynamic and important both economically and ecologically.

Minimizing the societal costs associated with the growth of coastal areas requires a more integrative approach than that at present adopted in most countries. The term "sustainable development" has provided a socially desirable goal, but it has not given guidance for a course of action to attain that goal. One thing is certain: sustainable agricultural development is not simply the combination of sustainable agriculture, sustainable fisheries and sustainable forestry since, individually, these subsectors do not take into account trans-sectoral issues that affect them and are affected by them.

Critical evaluation of trade-offs between subsectors (and non-agricultural sectors) and among development alternatives is essential to guide public policies in this regard. Standard, sector-based development planning does not allow for adequate identification and evaluation of such trade-offs. In contrast, integrated coastal management planning, because of its more comprehensive nature, provides the opportunity for inclusion of the broader impacts, and the evaluation of their benefits and costs.

Integration of the agriculture sector into coastal area management therefore involves going beyond traditional subsectoral management - and even beyond the broader mandates of sustainable sectoral management - in which agriculture, fisheries and forestry are managed as separate entities. Integrated management is broader in its intrasectoral focus and also includes relevant extrasectoral issues.

Although conventional sectoral planning often results in unsustainable development, the information generated by sectoral agencies for their own planning purposes can be an extremely useful input to planning of a more integrative nature. Furthermore, even if planning is integrated, implementation is often still within the mandate of the various sectoral agencies. Therefore, active involvement of these agencies in the integrated planning process and coordination of the implementation of these and their other activities are essential.


There are inseparable links between development and environment that have the potential to be at once complementary or conflicting. Natural resource and environmental problems are often as much consequences of inappropriate development as they are by-products of unmanaged growth. In sustainable development, long-term developmental and environmental goals are complementary.

Incentives originating in market prices or policies can provide valuable guidance for activities in coastal areas. However, such incentives may have unintended side-effects or promote activities that may be inappropriate from a societal perspective. These problems are referred to as market or policy failures.

Conventional sectoral planning does not take adequate account of the externalities generated by the sector or by those that affect it but originate in other sectors. An integrative approach to development planning in coastal areas involves correcting for market and policy failures and reducing the magnitude of, and the costs associated with, these transectoral impacts.

With ICAM, component sectors are managed as part of a functional whole, the primary focus being based on resource users rather than resource stocks.

The objectives of integrated management are to ensure that multisectoral development has the fewest possible negative impacts and the least possible long-term societal costs.

Some trade-offs among competing coastal activities are inevitable and should be anticipated. The societal costs associated with these trade-offs can be handled through well-balanced management which assesses the relative costs of the trade-offs, arrives at a consensus among stakeholders on appropriate management actions, and implements these actions to minimize the trade-offs.

Sectoral line agencies play an important role in both ICAM planning and implementation. Line agencies are key players in: identifying transectoral impacts; negotiating with other line agencies, community groups and resource users; agreeing on trade-offs among alternative development proposals; and assessing the feasibility and efficacy of alternative management interventions.


The management of coastal areas is a long-term, dynamic and iterative process. Plans (including their spatial and temporal scope) require periodic revision in the light of new information and changing circumstances. Everybody involved in the planning process should recognize that it is a learning process in which flexible attitudes are essential. The continuous nature of the planning process should, therefore, be explicitly incorporated in funding and organizational arrangements.

The planning process should be multisectoral and integrate all issues relevant to the current stage of development of the area, with a particular focus on cross-sectoral issues.

The types of management issues that predominate are a function of the mix of the development activities in an area and are, therefore, closely correlated with economic development. A management plan should be proactive, not merely reactive, anticipating and including management issues that are likely to arise in future, having regard to the resources in the area and the development direction being pursued.

An important part of the coastal management process is made up of actions at the local level. All stakeholders must be able to participate in the planning process to ensure that: 1) it is as equitable as possible and takes their concerns into account (given the need for compromise and trade-offs); and 2) they understand the connections between the different elements of both the process and the plan and understand how their actions can contribute to the achievement of the common good, or detract from it.


Coastal areas should be defined pragmatically for management purposes. Definitions should encompass all the relevant management issues to be addressed, including the biophysical, economic, social, institutional and organizational aspects.

Responsibility for the management of coastal areas is usually shared between a number of different ministries, some with sectoral responsibilities and others with jurisdictional ones. Although integrated coastal management will probably initially focus on a few major management issues, it should aim at policy integration during the policy-making phases.

Coordination of management actions undertaken by various agencies and stakeholders is critical to overall plan integrity and effectiveness. An appropriate body will be given overall responsibility for coordination.

Management plans should originate from within the management area, subject to the overarching goals of the government for coastal management and to budgetary limitations.

Coastal area management strategies and plans should be integrated with sectoral, local, regional and national development plans, sectoral resource management plans and national environmental plans.

Management actions should take account of local needs and constraints and should strive to establish a balance between conservation and development.

An integrated management plan must be tailored as far as possible to fit into existing institutional and organizational arrangements. These include political and administrative structures, legal frameworks, cultural attitudes and social traditions. Existing institutions and organizations, government and non-governmental, involved in the management of coastal resources or having jurisdiction over coastal resources, should be fully considered. If they are found to be inadequate to meet the needs of integrated management, action should be taken to establish a legal and administrative environment (including clarification of roles and provision of funding and training) conducive to effective cooperation between individuals, communities, government organizations and NGOs.

In integrated coastal management, the responsibilities of the coordinating organization and of the cooperating organizations should be clearly defined and overlaps and conflicts in organizational jurisdictions should be minimized. Appropriate authority and budgets should be allocated to these organizations.

In many instances, different interests in a coastal area may have similar objectives but will award them differing levels of priority. The planning process has to include mechanisms aimed at reconciling these differing priorities.

The allocation of resources is essentially a political process, based on the interests of different groups, as expressed through the consultative process. Economic valuation of resources and ecosystems can provide a rational basis for allocation and facilitate the political process. Values that cannot be quantified can be expressed qualitatively.

Property rights governing coastal resources should be clearly and unambiguously defined.

Information collection should be restricted to that directly needed for planning purposes.

Research and environmental monitoring should be directed towards the provision of improved information for improved plan formulation and implementation. Support for research, especially where funding is limited, should be restricted to research that contributes to essential information requirements and policy needs.

In addressing management issues, management should use a cost-effective combination of societal instruments, command-and-control measures, economic policy instruments and direct public-sector investment and provide the appropriate institutional and organizational framework.


Inception. A concept paper will initially be prepared by a government institution or other authoritative interest group, identifying actors from both government and non-governmental institutions involved in natural resource use. The concept paper should respond to a defined need and purpose. A steering and a management committee are then established, with representatives from all concerned parties, to guide and coordinate the process. The committees should be based where they can have the greatest influence on the national development system (e.g. ministry of planning). The need for an ICAM strategy, as the best response to well-identified problems, must be evident.

Performance review. Monitoring, at the early stage of articulation and implementation, is the most important management tool, satisfying the iterative nature of the process. Periodic evaluation focuses on the effectiveness in the operating mode, with particular attention to the proper evaluation of environmental externalities. Performance indicators ought to be identified early in the process.

Data collection and research. Each subsector represented in the committees prepares baseline information on the resources, the environmental impacts and the institutional structures proper to coastal resource management which would then be used to form a coastal profile.

Analysis. The biophysical and socio-economic environments, interactions within the coastal ecosystem and various economic sectors, and constraints, opportunities and possible alternatives for sustainable development are identified and attempts made to analyse and understand them.

Strategy formulation. The ICAM strategy to be adopted is developed by the steering and management committees on the basis of the broad goals identified in the inception paper and on information collected. The strategy defines long-term objectives and identifies policy instruments to reach the agreed objectives. It is paramount for the objectives to be those of the people implementing the strategy, and so they are set following broad-ranging consultations and debates. Objectives can be refined as the strategy progresses. There must be high-level political support for the strategy.

The process itself, and its costs and likely benefits, must be fully understood. The commitment of key participants is essential and, if some cannot be induced to participate, a more limited strategy can be considered with a view to bringing others on board as the strategy gains in momentum and support.

Plan formulation. The ICAM strategy, once agreed, is translated into plans at the sectoral level; this involves conventional sectoral planning being upgraded to address cross-sectoral concerns and prevent adverse environmental impacts. Policy measures will have been taken, during the formulation stage, to anticipate difficulties and provide for changes in circumstances not foreseen by the plan.

Plan implementation: During implementation, new information and periodic monitoring and evaluation will lead to revisions of objectives and management interventions, as provided for during plan formulation.

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