Capacity Building, Training and Education for ICZM in Europe

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Europe has been endowed with long coastlines and coastal areas characterized with diverse physical, environmental, socio-economic, and institutional conditions. They need effective management to achieve Sustainable Development patterns. This task can be translated into the application of the Integrated approach to Coastal Zone Management.

ICZM implies integration among different coastal and marine sectors (e.g. fisheries, tourism, transportation, etc.) and levels of government (from the international to the local) as well as among existing coastal research and management entities, which have largely focused on single disciplines and single sectors respectively while at the same time working independently from each other. Integration is therefore a complex task which requires, and is directly dependent on, individual and institutional capacity to address the many challenges that development and implementation of ICZM initiatives involve.

In order to be able to formulate the most pertinent actions to be undertaken, the current situation of the Capacity Building effort for ICZM across Europe needs to be established.

The State of the Art report on ‘Capacity Building for ICZM in Europe’ has been divided into four main sections, namely: Capacity Building in ICZM, Capacity Building in ICZM practice, Capacity Building in ICZM policy, and ICZM related Capacity Building Resources.

Capacity Building in ICZM

This section provides an introductory framework to the notion of Capacity Building in ICZM by presenting the concept, the different types of Capacity Building efforts, and the variety of tools for developing a Capacity Building strategy. The section has been divided into three main parts, namely: Capacity Building Concept and Definitions, Types of Capacity Building Efforts, and Capacity Assessment.

Capacity Building Concept and Definitions

This part provides an introduction to the notion of Capacity Building in general.

The Capacity Building Concept is presented through the historical evolution of the term, from its start as ‘institutional building’ in the early 1970’s within the UN system (in which UNCED has been offering guidance to its staff and member governments) and its transformation into Capacity Building, to its establishment as a central concept in Agenda 21 and other UNCED agreements as well as a major priority of global conventions and international communities.

Then the broad common conceptual framework for Capacity Building, that has emerged over the past five years, is detailed. This conceptual framework involves a system perspective that addresses various levels of environmental management capacities (i.e. capacities of institutions, individuals, overall countries and regions). This approach puts greater emphasis on the Capacity Development process itself, on local ownership of its process and on equal partnership in its support (Lafontaine 2000). The levels of this new approach to capacity building, namely: (i) individual, (ii), institutional and (iii) systemic are presented.

Finally, a list of the most relevant definitions of the term Capacity Building amongst key international organizations is also offered.

Types of Capacity Building efforts

There are two main types of Capacity Building efforts -Human Capacity Building and Institutional Capacity Building-, which are closely inter-related and complement each other. This section provides an introduction to these types of efforts as well as to a number of supporting elements that enhance and provide additional tools for their implementation, namely: the transfer of knowledge, networking, sharing of experience & know-how, and dissemination of information.

  • Human Capacity Building addresses the preparation of the required coastal actors to carry out integrated management. It should focus on building an individual’s Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes (K/S/A), while at the same time expanding and strengthening the network of individuals by building teams or cadres of ICZM experts across the European region and, hopefully, even institutions which will contribute to coastal management. In turn, Human Capacity Building efforts can be 'formal' or 'informal':
    • Formal Capacity Building includes education, training and professional development. It is important to note that these formal efforts can be either academic or non-academic in origin.
    • Informal Capacity Building addresses the creation of structures and networks which allow access to information on ICZM and build understanding of corresponding concepts and methodologies in stakeholders who would not seek education and training through formal routes. These structures and networks also create significant extra capacity for an increase in knowledge amongst ICZM practitioners themselves. The relevance of different existing platforms for informal capacity building efforts in Europe is explored (Morris 2007).
  • Institutional Capacity Building addresses capacity building beyond the provision of education and training of professionals. It aims to enhance the capacity of governments, business, non-governmental groups and communities to plan and manage the coast efficiently and effectively. It also aims at improving institutional arrangements for coastal management, such as 'networking' and 'partnerships'.

Capacity Assessment in ICZM

No efficient Capacity Building action can be undertaken without previously knowing about the existing as well as newly required human, institutional and financial resources that may tackle the specific ICZM capacity related issues. To undertake a capacity building action, a Capacity Assessment is needed.

A Capacity Assessment is an analysis of desired future capacities against current capacities; this assessment generates an understanding of capacity assets and needs, which in turn leads to the formulation of capacity buiding response strategies (UNDP 2007). In sum, a simple equation that relates What I have and what I need is the basic driver to Capacity Building initiatives. Though this may sound like common sense, unfortunately, in the majority of cases, this criterion has not been applied.

This section on Capacity Assessment in ICZM first discusses the framework within which capacity assessment may be undertaken and then provides information on a series of 'capacity assessment' tools as well as examples in which relevant organizations are applying such tools. Links to relevant sources of information on capacity assessment are also provided.

Assessing capacities for ICZM has been in the forefront of concerns in coastal practice worldwide. There have been a series of relevant conferences regarding past initiatives to define capacity building needs in ICZM. These events marked a milestone to guide future efforts in the field.

There are a variety of methods to assess the capacities of both individuals and institutions involved in ICZM.

Within the many methods to assess the capacities of a coastal manager, one involves looking into the ICZM policy cycle and the related tasks (Olsen 1995). Capacity Building Needs Associated to the ICZM Cycle first offers a review of such policy cycle and its most relevant characteristics. This is followed by a detailed examination the knowledge, skills and attitudes (K/S/As) associated to the steps in the policy cycle (Vallejo and Herrera 2007).

Training is one of the existing types of capacity building efforts (that have been introduced in the previous section). To effectively undertake a training action, an Training Needs Assessment (TNA) is required. An introduction to TNA is offered as a basic function of training and the first building block upon which the planning of training initiatives is facilitated. It is recognized as being an essential element in the process of training as well as a powerful capacity development tool (Vallejo 2007).

Methodologies for assessing the capacity needs in ICZM are illustrated through real-life reference examples such as:

  • The United Nations TRAIN-SEA-COAST Programme’s methodology for Training Needs Analysis
  • The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA Coastal Services Center, NEEDS ASSESSMENT TRAINING, an On-line Learning Module
  • The WIOMSA – Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island, CAPACITY NEEDS ASSESSMENT, undertaken at the regional level

Capacity Building in ICZM Practice

This section provides a list of key priority capacity building issues regarding the weaknesses in the planning and implementation of ICZM in Europe. It also offers examples of good and bad practices in Capacity Building for ICZM and the lessons learned from past and on-going projects, at different levels of management, both in Europe and worldwide.

Key priority ICZM capacity building related issues in Europe provides a list of the most common concerns associated to capacity building that have been voiced at different forums or identified in many reports in the field of ICZM.

Capacity Building in ICZM Policy

See also EU coastal related policies

In this section, a review of Capacity Building in the frame of EU ICZM related policies is offered.

There are several integrated and horizontal policies that are or may not be directly aimed at coastal zones but are nonetheless very relevant to their sustainable development. A list of these policies with a summary of their objectives, relationship with the coast and its management, and especially with the associated capacity building needs, is provided.

Special attention has been given to:

  • The ICZM Evaluation Report -an independent report to evaluate the implementation of the EU ICZM Recommendation of May 2002.

Following the analyses of national ICZM reports and strategies submitted by coastal Member States in response to the ICZM Recommendation, the evaluation exercise resulted in the formulation of 4 strategic and cross-cutting recommendations, and 5 operational recommendations with a total of 19 recommended actions. Endorse awareness, guidance training and education was one of the 5 operational recommendations.

  • The Green Paper "Towards the future Maritime Policy for the Union: a European vision for the oceans and seas"

The Green Paper for a EU Maritime Policy provides an introduction to this document, its vision on coastal areas and ICZM as well as its relation to other EU policies.

Capacity Building and the Green Paper provides an overview of the Green Paper from the capacity building viewpoint, focusing on how the document deals with the human and institutional development issues that such a maritime policy will face.

The Consultation on Maritime Policy: the issue of Capacity Building provides a reaction to the document from relevant experts in the field of Capacity Building in Europe coordinated by the Theme 10 ENCORA officers.

The reaction offers a discussion on the specific requirements for effective capacity building in view of the new vision embodied in the Green Paper, taking into consideration existing capabilities en Europe, together with a few examples of success stories. Special attention is given to key issues that merit special consideration in order to initiate a capacity building process that may provide effective support to the implementation of the Maritime Policy. Finally, this discussion is summarized and the most relevant elements for the future are highlighted.

ICZM related Capacity Building Resources

There is little systematic comparative information on the growing number ICZM related courses and programmes in Europe, making it difficult to reach an overall assessment of what is being taught and with what success. The establishment of a European database for comparative analysis of education and training courses and corresponding materials is one of the actions proposed in the abovementioned ICZM Evaluation Report as well as one of the objectives in many on-going EU funded projects (e.g. EU COMET2, SPICOSA, LEONARDO).

The Category:Education, awareness and capacity building in integrated coastal zone management lists Coastal Wiki articles on Capacity Building, especially in the ICZM field.


In the last couple of years, the European Union has produced core policies with an immense bearing on the future of its coastal areas, such as the Water Framework Directive, the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union and the recently signed Mediterranean ICZM Protocol, to name just a few. In turn, existing individual and institutional capacities, together with new capacity building efforts, will be needed to address the many challenges involved in the effective implementation of these far-reaching policy initiatives.

Europe has already been endowed with human and institutional resources that have the required competencies for the application of integrated approaches to coastal management. In fact, there is an enormous quantity and diversity of capacity building initiatives undertaken by different organizations for different target groups in Europe. However, Capacity Building has remained as a series of ad-hoc, isolated efforts. The coming years offer a unique opportunity for Europe to take full advantage of its own capacity and develop new models for capacity building, partly based on international experience yet tailored to the specific conditions of ICZM in Europe.

The State of the Art (SoA) on Capacity Building for ICZM in Europe in the form of a set of CoastalWiki articles, provides key cutting-edge, baseline information on concepts and terminology, approaches, methodologies and tools, along with practical examples of capacity building efforts, as well as on the political framework, key priority issues, and existing resources in capacity building for ICZM in Europe.

To start with, there is an introduction to the most recent conceptual approaches to enhance the capacity of individuals and institutions working in the management of coastal areas. Within these approaches, a major step in any capacity building action, is the estimation of current capacities and potential needs through a variety of methodologies and tools that are being applied in different parts of the world.

Although these approaches and methodologies can be applied elsewhere, a major initial consideration for the design and implementation of specific capacity building interventions is that such interventions should be context specific. EU coastal and marine related policies and national ICZM strategies and existing administrative arrangements, all act as powerful underlying forces in a scenario within which capacity building decisions are made. In this regard, discussions on the specific requirements for effective capacity building in view of the new visions embodied in these emerging policies and strategies, as the one carried out for the consultation on the Green Paper for an EU Maritime Policy, are paramount.

Capacity building decisions should, in turn, respond to priority ICZM related issues that might be tackled through the development of the appropriate human and institutional capacities. The list of key priority issues that has been provided is not exhaustive yet it does provide extremely valuable hints regarding the problems, the actors and the institutional/organizational issues involved in the European context. This list is also representative of today’s reality in which what prevails is a segmented, compartmentalized knowledge and understanding of capacity building needs. Nevertheless, each capacity building intervention should start by closely examining the specific issues affecting the target area.

Sharing of experience and know-how has proven extremely valuable in advancing any field of knowledge. Hence, the need for examples of good and bad practices in Capacity Building for ICZM, with a special focus on the lessons learned, from past and on-going projects both in Europe and worldwide. Additionally, the review of ICZM related courses and programmes in Europe provides an important piece of novel information that will assist in the identification of major education and training needs/gaps and further formulation of the corresponding most pertinent actions to be undertaken.

Finally, it is important to note that the information gathered in all the aforementioned articles has supported the generation of a European Action Plan (EAP) on Capacity Building for ICZM, which is also offered in the CoastalWiki. Through a list of carefully elaborated recommendations resulting from the collaborative effort of key experts in the field, this European Action Plan (EAP) aims to enhance both 'human' and 'institutional' capacity building efforts across Europe, in support of current and future implementation of ICZM initiatives. One of the expected benefits resulting from the implementation of the EAP is, among others, being able to look beyond the short to medium term and develop an influential vision for a wiser use of Europe’s existing resources. This will lead to a more efficient generation of new cadres of personnel as well as institutional means for ICZM.

Terminology and definitions

You may find information on any coastal topic by entering a corresponding term in the search window. "Go" will direct you to an article with this title (if such an article exists); "Search" will provide an overview of articles in which your search term appears. You will find an explanation of coastal terms and concepts in the Glossary.

The main author of this article is Garriga, Maica
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Garriga, Maica (2021): Capacity Building, Training and Education for ICZM in Europe. Available from,_Training_and_Education_for_ICZM_in_Europe [accessed on 21-02-2024]