Key priority ICZM capacity building related issues in Europe

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A number of common priority issues regarding the weaknesses in the planning and implementation of ICZM in Europe have been voiced at different forums. However, concerns specifically associated to Capacity Building have not been clearly identified nor have they necessarily been singled out for action.

Through different ENCORA activities, key Capacity Building related issues in the context of ICZM implementation in Europe have been identified. The lists of such ICZM Capacity Building issues are provided under the corresponding reports headings:

  • European Action Plan on Capacity Building for ICZM
  • Review of ICZM related courses in Europe
  • Consultation on the Maritime Policy: the issue of Capacity Building

The European Action Plan on Capacity Building for ICZM

The European Action Plan (EAP) on Capacity Building for ICZM was designed to be an advisory, indicative document, providing guidance and recommendations for the development and implementation of national and/or local Action Plans on Capacity Building for ICZM across Europe.

This EAP provides list of priority issues that might be tackled through the development of the appropriate human and institutional capacities. The EAP states that these issues should be considered as the ‘bottom-up’ drivers in the development of specific Action Plans.

Table 1 presents the list of Capacity Building related key issues, which were identified in different reports and summarized for the European Action Plan on Capacity Building for ICZM in Europe.

  • Lack of sustained capacity and expertise in ICZM within local authorities
  • Fragmentation of the training and educational effort
  • Training efforts not directly linked with management priorities
  • Poor links between researchers and policy makers
  • Limited training directed to higher levels of government and decision-making
  • Lack or limited mechanisms to transfer courses and experience
  • Limited use of needs assessment as a diagnostic tool
  • Limited use of evaluation tools to identify the impact of the capacity building effort within the working environment
  • No synergy between different capacity building initiatives
  • Limited use of communication means to capture the attention of the general public and decision-makers
  • Absent of a critical mass of practitioners and policy-makers that push ICZM towards the center stage of the economic and environmental goals of a country
  • Limited number of ICZM trainers
  • Lack of awareness/information on training opportunities, especially for people outside governmental spheres of large institutions
  • Need to convince institutions of the benefits regarding the training of personnel at all levels

Table 1. List of Capacity Building related issues in the context of ICZM implementation in Europe

Some issues such as the fragmentation of the existing training and educational effort relate most strongly to capacity building itself. Others such as, for example, the lack of engagement and open communication with stakeholders, including political representatives and the general public, relate more to policy planning, but nevertheless they may have close linkages to Capacity Building.

In fact, the concept and the practice of Capacity Building may be understood differently by different individuals/organizations. The importance attributed to Capacity Building varies between public organizations, the academia and the private sector. Moreover, the understanding of which problem/concern or need merits a Capacity Building solution may differ between individuals and institutions.

Though the above list portrays an unorganized array of Capacity Building problems, it provides extremely valuable hints regarding the problems, the actors and the institutional/organizational issues involved. The above list is also representative of today’s reality in which what prevails is a segmented, compartmentalized knowledge and understanding of Capacity Building needs.

Maritime Policy: the issue of Capacity Building

Table 2 presents a summary of the most important issues (or limitations) in the present Capacity Development arrangements in Europe, which were included in the aforementioned contribution. Each of the bullet points includes a short explanation to facilitate the understanding of the relevance of each issue and its interrelationship with other issues, if pertinent.

Table 2. Key issues in Capacity Development in the context of a Future European Maritime Policy
Key issues Short explanation
Lack of integrated and strategic consideration of Capacity Building as an essential component of any action, both at the planning and management level;

Lack or limited funding, specifically earmarked for Capacity Building.

The lack of strategic consideration given to Capacity Building is a concern. An integrated strategy to incorporate Capacity Building is a vital part of the process for achieving sustainable human development. This means having a commitment to methodically build human and institutional capacity. Today, when examining the public information/documentation provided on ICZM projects, it is quite difficult to find information on their capacity component, which still appears more as an ad-hoc element rather than part and parcel of a project or an ICZM initiative. If this situation is accompanied with limited funding or the available resources are not specifically earmarked for human or institutional development, the capacity component remains weak or is not clearly defined, instead of being an integral part of a project or initiative. The capacity component should go hand-in-hand with the overall planning and management aims of a project, otherwise its effectiveness will suffer.
Need to develop wider recognition of the role of training and education in ICZM, particularly in view of the forthcoming implementation of major European marine and coastal related strategies and plans as well as the EU's encouragement for the development of ICZM. There is an urgent need to develop wider recognition of the role of training and education in ICZM. This should be accompanied with a broad range of Capacity Building products to meet the needs of forthcoming projects and programmes. The training and education strategy should include technical training, developing curriculum at all levels of education (primary, secondary and tertiary) and building awareness among all interested stakeholders including elected officials and the general public, in an effort to create a wide public-based constituency of support regarding the importance of ICZM. Technical training should be task-oriented with the outputs feeding into the management process.
Difficulties for gathering dispersed information and knowledge regarding existing resources for Capacity Building. Despite the richness of European Capacity Building resources available, at the moment, there are many difficulties for gathering dispersed information and knowledge regarding existing resources for capacity building. Initiatives such as ENCORA in surveying existing resources and developing a European database comparative analysis of education and training programmes and corresponding materials will greatly assist in this matter. It would be excellent to also gather information on skill development opportunities (training courses) at the project level and existing public awareness initiatives.
Lack of effective mechanisms for capacity needs assessment, both for addressing human as well as institutional capacity priorities and enable an effective and realistic planning and management of Capacity Building programmes at the regional and local levels;

Need to adhere to more rigorously Capacity Assessment techniques and prevent duplication of efforts while at the same time make more effective use of existing resources

Capacity Assessment is a prerequisite before any successful action is undertaken. There is a need to know both what is available and what is lacking, in order to have a realistic view of capacity needs. Without the knowledge of existing capabilities and gaps as well as needs at the institutional and individual levels, no realistic Capacity Building strategy (and associated plan of action) can be formulated. The benefits of this approach are multiple. By knowing what resources are available, all beneficiaries can make an effective use of them; by identifying what is needed, duplication of efforts is avoided and more cost effective, interventions can be made, thus avoiding ‘fragmentation’ and ‘isolated’ approaches that lack sustainability. This approach promotes an efficient use of available funding by centring the efforts only on priority needs.
In many cases, the Capacity Building framework in use seem to be unfit for the purpose of implementing ICZM and remote from the needs of local ICZM planners and managers. In the majority of countries the traditional framework for Capacity Building is used. This framework consists in using short-term approaches –generally one time events and ad-hoc endeavors -mainly focusing on gathering technical knowledge about specific issues. It uses training and education as their main vehicles for action. Sometimes, however, they are unfit for the specific needs of ICZM or do not address planning and management requirements at the local level. The new Capacity Building framework involves a system perspective, that addresses various levels of capacities (i.e. capacities of institutions, and individual capacities, at various levels) and the use of a diversity of CB products simultaneously, as shown in the example of the Thames Estuary. This approach puts greater emphasis on the Capacity Development process itself, on local ownership of its process and on equal partnership in its support. This new approach uses a much longer perspective and relies upon gains previously obtained via e.g. prior early training and awareness building activities. At the individual level, Capacity Building also refers to the process of changing attitudes and behaviours e.g. as exemplified in the case of the Thames Estuary initiative, while also imparting knowledge and developing skills and maximizing the benefits of participation, knowledge exchange and ownership.
The science-practice-policy divide There is a strong need for capacity building in the area of research to underpin the proposed EU maritime policy. Specifically, there is a need for capacity building which will encourage a ‘paradigm shift’ among researchers, reconciling natural science and social science methodologies, leading to a more holistic approach to maritime research. This is an interesting challenge with the specific capacity building aimed at universities and other research institutes. However, this is not enough as the paradigm shift will be required in response to research undertaken to both drive AND inform EU maritime policy (AMRIE, personal communication). From this perspective, Capacity Building will be required to improve the understanding between researchers, practitioners and policy-makers (Ballinger, R., personal communication). For instance, how the maritime policy is to be regulated and operationalised is not totally clear. Following recent examples of implementation of EU policy (e.g. the Water Framework Directive), it is obvious that there will be a need for Capacity Building for all those actors responsible for interpreting the policy and/or regulation and putting it into practice. In this regard, AMRIE (personal communication) feels that an over-arching structure would be required to ensure that all actors understand the needs and capabilities of each other. A major challenge will be to include trained professionals able to utilize research based knowledge within existing institutional structures and some lead will be needed from European institutions. At the regional/local level, there are some relevant efforts to try to bring policy makers, practitioners and the scientists together to ensure that policy making and practice is based on sound science (European coastal and marine network organisations)
The science-local knowledge divide. A very important aspect is the strengthening of cooperation between regional and local initiatives with national and regional research organisations. Research activities are often done without much interaction with local communities. Thus local knowledge is often ignored and not used. The local communities on the other hand, often have insufficient access to knowledge and information. Working together can therefore have mutual benefits. See Science-Policy Interaction.

EM (Ecosystem based Management) needs a sound understanding of the ecosystems, and at he same time, participation of stakeholders at a local level. Building long lasting alliances between research institutes and stakeholder groups could be a mechanism for improved management (Marchand, M, personal communication). An example is the initiative to develop a Waddensea Academy. This idea was raised a few years ago after a fierce discussion on whether or not to drill for gas in this intertidal natural area. Finally, the government decided to agree with the exploitation, but to use part of the revenues for a research institute fully dedicated to the Waddensea. Collaboration between existing universities and institutes as well as with local stakeholders would be essential for the success of such an institution. Although it is still too early to evaluate this initiative on its success, this could also be an example for other Regional Seas (Marchand, M., personal communication).

Lack of capabilities for implementing the Ecosystem-based Management approach. AMRIE (personal communication) feels very strongly that the capabilities in EM (Ecosystem based Management) are very poor. There is a widespread misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the nature of the ecosystem based approach to management. This approach was developed and successfully applied in the fisheries areas. Its application to other areas, e.g. development projects and recently the general marine/maritime area, has not always been so successful. Additionally, even where the approach is understood, its operationalisation is not clearly defined. Key elements that need re-enforcement include: (i) a clear definition of the ecosystem based approach to management – European level; (ii) guidelines as to how this can be operationalised- national/regional level; (iii) relationship with existing ICZM, shoreline, estuary management, marine spatial plans etc. – national/regional level; and (iv) best practice – local level (AMRIE, personal communication).

Further reading

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): Key priority ICZM capacity building related issues in Europe. Available from [accessed on 12-04-2024]