PEGASO project Indicators for Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean and Black Seas

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Indicators are quantitative/qualitative statements or measured/observed parameters that can be used to describe existing situations and measure changes or trends over time. A structured approach to Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) calls for indicators to measure progress in, and effects of, ICZM policies. Initiating, monitoring or evaluating an ICZM process, requires a set of governance, environmental, and socio-economic indicators that should relate to the specific management issues that triggered the initiation of the ICZM process, such as multiple conflicts, ecological degradation, community interest or the need for implementing a specific legislation (IOC-UNESCO, 2006). The purpose of using indicators in ICZM processes includes:

  1. Monitoring key characteristics of coastal and marine ecosystems against desired conditions.
  2. Evaluating coastal management options.
  3. Tracking progress and effectiveness of implemented measures and actions.
  4. Taking into consideration the short, and the long-term objectives of the plan.
  5. Guiding adaptive management.
  6. Helping in implementing the ecosystem approach.
  7. Helping providing, and helping communicating relevant information to decision-makers.

Indicators for ICZM in the Mediterranean and Black Seas

The PEGASO project aims to build on existing capacities and develop common novel approaches to support integrated policies for the coastal, marine and maritime realms of the Mediterranean and Black Sea Basins in ways that are consistent with and relevant to the implementation of the ICZM Protocol for the Mediterranean. In this context efficient and easy to use tools for making sustainability assessments in the coastal zone are being refined and further developed. A suite of indicators that can be applied at different scales, both in the Mediterranean and Black sea, as sustainability assessment tool, and as tool to measure the implementation of ICZM policy and programmes will be provided. This is structured through three steps:

  • review of existing indicator initiatives to measure the progress towards sustainable development in coastal zones, in particular for the Mediterranean and Black Sea Basins;
  • assessment of these initiatives against the needs of relevant policy instruments;
  • definition of new indicators where necessary, taking into account existing recommendations for ICZM indicators

As a result of this work, a core set of indicators will be identified to support ICZM across the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions; they cover both biophysical issues and socio-economic themes, and especially take into account the threats to the coastal zone. A multi-scale approach to indicator design has been adopted, to take into account the needs at local, national and regional scales. The work will identify the data and statistics needed to populate and maintain the indicators, and the outputs will be tested iteratively with end-users, across the region and within the 10 Cases areas. What follows below is a description of the approach used to develop the ICZM PEGASO indicator set and the guidelines for the application phase (how to select and how to apply the indicators). This text is a summary of a more elaborate methodological paper, which can be found here.

Indicators requirements for the implementation of the ICZM Protocolin the Mediterranean

The ICZM Protocol for the Mediterranean, signed in Madrid in 2008, represents a milestone for what regards the implementation of ICZM in the Region, but also for the example it might represent to other Regional Seas. Furthermore, the Protocol represents a novelty being bold, innovative, forward looking, proactive, comprehensive, and integrated. For what regards the indicators for the Protocol, they can be grouped in the following categories:

  • Compliance indicators (or Performance Indicators) with the Protocol; reporting degree of compliance in the implementation of the Protocol articles, according to the Reporting format to the Compliance Committee;
  • Effectiveness indicators (or Impact indicators) - to measure to which degree the Protocol is effective in achieving its objectives/ how successfully the Protocol is implemented;
  • Coastal management indicators (or Sustainable Development Indicators): assessments, state of the coastal environment, trends, etc.

ICZM indicators review: current status

In order to make use of the already existing initiatives on ICZM indicators a complete indicator literature review was undertaken. Some of the most relevant initiatives are listed below.

Out of this review, more than 300 indicators were initially identified. As a second step the indicators present at least in two reviewed initiatives were selected. Then a further review was made by looking at the actual formulation (wording) of the single indicators. It was noticed that even if some indicators had a different wording theywere referring to the same objective. After this process some indicators not included in the first phase were re-introduced in the list.Furthermore, some indicators were included thanks to the contribution of experts that suggested a number of indicators to be included, this happened in particular for economic indicators.

The approach used in the selection of the indicators

In order to promote an integrated approach and to overcomethe traditional sectorial (e.g. fishery, tourism, energy) approach and in accordance with the DEDUCE approach, it has been decided to link the PEGASO set of indicators to the 10 ICZM policy objectives, reflecting the principles of ICZM which can be found in Article 6 of the Protocol and which were redrafted in order to reflect the relationship between Integrated Coastal Zone Management and the Ecosystem Approach (2 policy objectives were not included, for the complete methodological paper, click here).

According to the 8 policy objectives a set of 67 indicators were selected choosing from the review of Plan bleu, IOC UNESCO and DEDUCE indicators. Every one of the policy objective is represented at least by 4 indicators. Moreover each indicator is linked with the correspondent ICZM Protocol article and ecological objective of UNEP-MAP. These ecological objectives have been defined as part of the road map application of the Ecosystem Approach in the Mediterranean and in the view of implementing the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Starting from the PEGASO indicator set of 67 indicators a sub-set (core-set) of 26 indicators was identified. The criteria to select them were the following ones:

  • Include indicators covering the main priority issues of the ICZM Protocol (e.g. urban sprawl, land use, and coastal habitats)
  • Include the indicators for the UNEP-MAP ecological objectives related to coastal zone
  • Include the four main economic indicators (i.e. those considered by economic experts as minimum requirement to describe a coastal economy)

The testing phase of the chosen indicators of the core set will be applied at the two main spatial scales foreseen by the PEGASO project: the Regional (a regional assessment indicator set) and the CASES (local national, subregional) scale.

The methodological indicator factsheet: applying integration in the indicator assessment

For each indicator included in the core set, a methodological factsheet is compiled. The methodological factsheet reflects the way in which the PEGASO indicators have been conceived and organised.The PEGASO set of ICZM indicators should not only serve as a descriptive but also analytical tool for the understanding of the coastal system, being it a region (the Mediterranean or the Black Sea), a country or a local coastal area. The challenge is to perform an integrated assessment, or to develop a storyline, also at the level of the indicator assessment, both qualitative and quantitative. To achieve this, cross-linkages between indicators are needed: between Indicators of Sustainable Development and Indicators of Governance, between Driver, State, Pressure, Impact and Response indicators, cross-cutting issues, themes and sectoral objectives. Particular attention needs to be paid to the cause-effect relationships – and to the processes that define these relationships at the scale at which the analysis is conducted - when selecting these cross-linkages.

How to select and test indicators from the PEGASO indicator set

The following steps will be taken by the end users (i.e. CASES and partners involved in Regional Assessment) to select and test the indicators:

  1. Identification of priority ICZM policy objectives in the context, scale, region, CASE of application (taking into account relevance and data availability)
  2. Selection of a sub-set of indicators from the proposed core set indicators
  3. Data collection and calculation of the selected indicators
  4. Analysis and interpretation of the results of the indicators calculation in the context of sustainability targets and ICZM policy objective(s), and link with other PEGASO tools
  5. Presentation of results to stakeholders

See Also

The main author of this article is Lescrauwaet, A.-K.
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Lescrauwaet, A.-K. (2020): PEGASO project Indicators for Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Available from [accessed on 16-06-2024]