Capacity Building in the frame of EU ICZM related policies

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This section is meant to be a review of the way coastal areas and their management are tackled within the most relevant EU documents and resulting Capacity Building needs. Several excerpts of the European Action Plan on Capacity Building for ICZM in Europe have been used.

See also EU coastal related policies


The policy responses that recognize the need for ICZM in Europe are abundant[1]. During the last decade, the EU has begun to specifically address problems related to the state of the coasts, their sustainable development, and the coast as a regional entity. This includes the issuing of two major policy documents, namely:

  • The European Parliament and the Council recommendation concerning the implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe (EU ICZM Recommendation, 2002/413/EC).

The coastal zones are also addressed in other integrated and horizontal policies and directives that are not directly aimed at coastal zones but are nevertheless very relevant to the sustainable development of the coasts and should play a critical role in the planning and implementation of ICZM (see figure 1).

Figure 1: The Policy Framework for ICZM

Based on the compulsory character of European Directives, both the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC)[2] -environmental pillar of the future Maritime Policy (see Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union) and the Water Framework Directive (WFD) are worth mentioning. Furthermore, the EU Recommendation on ICZM provides the policy integration platform on which to base other directives which are of relevance to the coast. In particular, the integration of the WFD and Marine Strategy Framework Directive with the EU ICZM Recommendation provides opportunities for coupling coastal zone management with catchments basins and marine regions. In this regard, ICZM has shown that it could become the instrument to link terrestrial and marine legislation, especially at the Regional Sea Level[3].

Regional seas conventions also play an important role in the development of ICZM initiatives. For example, the Nature Protection and Biodiversity Group of the Helsinki Convention (HELCOM) address the Ecosystem Approach and ICZM in the Baltic Sea.

More recently, the Aberdeen Declaration (June 2007), the Declaration of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (October 2007) and the recently signed Mediterranean ICZM Protocol (January 2008), form the policy framework for any ICZM initiative in Europe. The EC Treaty (1999) Art.130a (promotion of economic and social cohesion) mentions islands as areas requiring special attention.

In sum, the European Union (EU) has produced core policies having an immense bearing on the future of its coastal areas, such as the EU ICZM Recommendation and the recently signed Mediterranean ICZM Protocol, the Water Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and the future Integrated Maritime Policy, to name just a few. As a result, existing individual and institutional capacities will have to be strengthened by new Capacity Building efforts, in order to address the emerging challenges involved in the effective implementation of these far-reaching policy initiatives.

Thus, there is a need to evaluate the capacity issues and needs of the current political framework in which ICZM takes place, as to advance the implementation of ICZM practice in Europe.

Capacity Building in the ICZM Evaluation Report

See also Evaluation of ICZM in Europe

In 2006, the European Commission appointed an ICZM Evaluation Team to carry out an independent evaluation of ICZM in Europe.

Following the analyses of national ICZM reports and strategies, submitted by coastal Member States in response to the ICZM Recommendation, in addition to a wide range of complementary information and data and intensive consultations with coastal stakeholders, the evaluation exercise resulted in the formulation of:

  • 4 strategic and cros-cutting recommendations, and
  • 5 operational recommendations with a total of 19 recommended actions

One of these 5 operational recommendations of the ICZM Evaluation Report deals with Capacity Building issues: Endorse awareness, guidance training and education

Endorse awareness, guidance training and education

According to this report, a crucial issue in the implementation of ICZM is the understanding and ownership of stakeholders along the European coast regarding this approach for a sustainable management of the coastal zone.

The promotion of awareness, guidance, education and training for ICZM is an important means to foster such ownership and to contribute to human capacity building.

However, the ICZM evaluation questionnaire revealed that only a 31% of all respondents feel that such instruments are currently being used to address coastal zone issues in their country.

Main challenges

  • Sectoral thinking has to be overcome
  • Knowledge of basic economic, ecological and social processes has to be translated
  • The ability to cooperate across spatial boundaries and scales has to be trained, taking collective decisions on a complex topic such as coastal development

Starting for general Awareness Raising measures, a range of tools should be employed to achieve progress.

A central element would be to develop guidance materials that illustrate the process of implementing ICZM, referring to all relevant stakeholders and practices.

To establish ICZM training centres and programmes and to facilitate exchange, also beyond the EU, should further enhance to uptake of the approach and dissemination of Good Practices.

With a view to the long-term deployment of the ICZM approach, specific curricula at various educational levels are important means.

Capacity Building in European ICZM related policies

The future Integrated Maritime Policy

See Consultation on Maritime Policy: the issue of Capacity Building

The ICZM Mediterranean Protocol

Mediterranean ICZM Protocol


  1. European Environment Agency, 2006, The changing faces of coastal areas. EEA Report No.6/2006, p75-85.
  2. Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy.
  3. Rupprecht Consult & International Ocean Institute 2006. Evaluation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe -Final Report, Cologne, Germany.

Further reading

External Links

The ICZM Evaluation Team of Rupprecht Consult and the International Ocean Institute (IOI) were appointed by the European Commision to carry out an independent evaluation of ICZM in Europe.

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 (2020): Capacity Building in the frame of EU ICZM related policies. Available from [accessed on 13-07-2024]