Analysis of the ICZM process in Belgium

From Coastal Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

In Belgium a consultation with coastal administrative actors showed “that there exists little preference for developing a new strategy for the coast, but rather for making use of existing policy plans and instruments” (FOD, 2006). On this account, the Federal Public Service for Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment (‘Federale Overheidsdienst Volksgezondheit, Veiligheid van de Voedselketen en Leefmilieu’; FOD) developed a report which does not provide a new ICZM strategy, but take existing coastal policies and future visions into consideration. The name of the report is ‘National Report on the implementation of Recommendation 2002/413/EC’. It consists of three main topics. First, a brief stocktaking of coastal management and administrations in Belgium, second, special developments of ICZM issues, namely a coordination point, sustainability indicators and sea-land interactions, and third, suggestions for future ICZM in Belgium. According to Rupprecht Consult and International Ocean Institute (2006) the report “intends to be a source of inspiration for the government to optimize its integrated policy for the coast and provide information for all actors involved who wish to acquire better insight into the efforts made so far on the coast and current lines of thinking for the future”. The most relevant documents of ICZM in Belgium can be divided into planning on land and planning on sea. At land, environmental planning is an important instrument in the elaboration of an integrated strategy. As far as the landward side is concerned, the coast is designated as an urban network in the ‘Flemish Environmental Structure Plan’ (‘Ruimtelijk Struktuurplan Vlaanderen’). In the ‘Provincial Environmental Structure Plan’ (‘Provinciaal Ruimtelijk Struktuurplan West-Vlaanderen’) this zone is included as a separate sub zone. At sea, a ‘Master Plan for the North Sea’ has been formulated in 2003, aiming at sustainable management for the North Sea. It is stated that the spatial planning for the North Sea would take place in two phases. In the fist phase, there should be systematic consultation with all actors concerned, while taking account of the electricity production, by delineating zones in which these activities are permitted and incorporating a sustainable approach in the approval procedure. In the second phase, protected marine areas should be delineated and the necessary management measures defined (FOD, 2006).

Lessons learned concerning formal implementation

In Belgium, no single integrated policy document for the coast exists. In recent years, policy documents for various sectors have been drawn up, which refer to the entire coastal zone or a sub zone of it. Many documents have been produced about (aspects of) ICZM, but a clear vision of coastal future development cannot always be found (FOD, 2006). For that reason, the issue of formal implementation in Belgium does not hold worthwhile lessons learned for the German ICZM process.

Lessons learned concerning responsibilities and tasks

Main achievements concerning responsibilities and tasks of the Belgium ICZM process are the establishment of an ICZM ‘Coordination Point’ and sustainability indicators for the coast, a so called ‘Coastal Barometer’. Below, these two concepts are presented in detail. The ICZM Coordination Point is established by the Provincial Government of West Flanders in 2001 in order to organise responsibilities and tasks of the Belgium ICZM process. The organisation “was thought out very carefully to ensure good cooperation between the various actors. Consequently, because bridges needed to be built between all governments and partners, many other administrations and partners on the coast were also included in the organisational structure of the Coordination Point” (FOD, 2006). The Coordination Point goes along with three main bodies: the Steering Committee, the Task Force, and the Consultative Group (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Schematic representation of Belgium’s ICZM Coordination Point and collaborating ICZM bodies involved (according to Provincie West-Vlaanderen, 2007) The Steering Committee is composed of the municipalities, the province of West Flanders, and relevant departments and institutions of the national government. Besides, all representatives from the cabinets of the national and Flemish government are involved. The composition of the group indicates its highly official character. Therewith the Steering Committee tends to influence the direction of coastal policy and constitutes a direct link with the cabinets involved. It deals with the political follow-up and decision-making. According to FOD (2006) its main tasks are:

  • Open discussion of cross-sectoral themes (e.g. projects, policy proposals, policy plans) with all administrations concerned, relevant consultation and exchange of information
  • Proposal of solutions to conflicts and preparation of strategic steering of sustainable coastal management. The proposals are always submitted to the competent ministers for approval
  • Organisation of a coastal forum

The Task Force is made up of representatives from the departments responsible for nature conservation, marine environment, coastal protection, spatial planning, tourism, the Institute for Nature Conservation, the Flanders Marine Institute, and the provincial government of West Flanders (Provincie West-Vlaanderen, 2007). Representatives from other departments can be invited to attend the working group if a subject discussed concerns them. The Task Force is responsible for two main activities. First, the preparation of Steering Committee activities and the follow-up of the assignments that it receives from the Steering Committee. Second, the practical and concrete follow-up of ICZM works and projects (FOD, 2006). The Consultative Group is composed of official representatives drawn from all disciplines and the four policy-making levels: federal, provincial, regional, and local. As the Provincie West-Vlaanderen (2007) states, “the Consultative Group acts as a sounding board for the proper functioning of the coordination centre”. It is responsible for monitoring projects in the field and for preparing case files and projects. One component of this group is a coastal forum. It should “facilitate the flow of information to general population and offer all involved stakeholders the possibility to push for new themes concerning sustainable coastal zone management” (FOD, 2006). Referring to the tasks of the Coordination Point, it is from particular importance that it “offers a platform for consultation concerning and integration of policy making, but it cannot act in the place of the competent administrations” (FOD, 2006). The intended result is a better fine-tuning of coastal policy between the different actors on the coast. Therefore the Provincie West-Vlaanderen (2007) defined main tasks of the Coordination Point.

  • Communication and sensitisation on ICZM: awareness raising through concrete actions as part of ICZM; own publications (brochures, leaflets, posters, articles, website) about coastal subjects; organise and participate public days, seminars, workshops and conferences.
  • Acting as a point of contact on ICZM nationally and internationally: running an information office and to provide in objective manner information to policy-makers, teachers, students, interested citizens, etc. - nationally and internationally; providing information from and to the international community; participating to relevant European and international ICZM projects and networks.
  • Support implementation of the EU recommendation concerning ICZM: helping with the implementation of the EU recommendation concerning ICZM; stimulating the establishment of a formal basis for ICZM.
  • Integration of planning and policy: acting as secretariat of working groups and consultative bodies; participating to relevant steering and working groups to work on new policy developments.

The ICZM Coordination Point developed a Coastal Barometer, which consists of indicators to measure the sustainable use of the coast. It should make it possible “to monitor coastal evolution, give advice on taking decisions for future coastal developments (policy support) and ensure good communication about the coast to a wide audience” (FOD, 2006). In a long-lasting and broad participatory process – including key experts, municipalities, hotel and catering industry, environmental associations, civil servants, and sport clubs – six priorities with 21 indicators were defined as the most important ones. They are listed below, of which some indicators are relevant for several priorities (FOD, 2006): 1. Preservation and strengthening of the socio-cultural capital: differences in salary; protection and stocktaking of real estate. 2. Realisation of administrative innovation: implementation of ICZM. 3. Quality improvement of the residential and social environment: surface area of protected area; ageing rate; residential comfort; utilisation of public transport in day tourism to the coast; surface area of dedicated coastal habitat; number of motor vehicles on the roads. 4. Support for tourism and recreation: share of public transport in day tourism to the coast; share of highly accessible accommodation units; amount of tourists that stay-over. 5. Improvement of the environment and nature: surface area of protected areas; surface area of dedicated coastal habitat; quality of beach water; residual waste; number of motor vehicles on the roads; number of observed pollution incidents (oil etc.)/flight hour; fish stocks that are not being over fished. 6. Reinforcement of the economic fabric: economic value of ports; salary pressure; ratio of company start-ups to bankruptcies; added value per employee; employment in tourism; change in employment in fisheries and agricultural sectors; fish stocks that are not being over fished; unemployment rate.

The indicators and background data for the whole Belgian coast can be consulted on the ICZM Coordination Point website ‘’. The display of the coastal barometer and the background information are restricted to the essential aspects. The screenshot below (see Figure 3) shows the first priority (first column) with its two indicators (second column). The third column is named “Kompas” and provides background material as well as results for each indicator. The fourth column presents the “Trend” in a five stage scale from ‘strong enhancement’ (sunny weather) to ‘strong decline’ (rainy weather).

Figure 3: Fraction of the coastal barometer website, showing indicator (second column), link to background material “Kompas” (third column) and link to future “trend” (fourth column) of the priority ‘Preservation and strengthening of the socio-cultural capital’ (first column) (adapted from VLIZ, 2003) Clicking on the compass in this example, the website-user gets redirected to technical explanations of the indicator ‘differences in salary’. The topic is described by answering four questions: Why this indicator? What does this indicator say? What are the results? What will happen in future (VLIZ, 2003)? Clicking on the indicator itself, the user gets forwarded to the actual state-of-the-art of salaries along the Belgian coast. Next to a describing text, the salaries of all coastal municipalities in Belgium are shown in an interactive graphic. According to requirements, the user can select specific municipalities of interest. The following figure (see Figure 4) shows the differences in salary of three Belgium municipalities.

Figure 4: Interactive graphic of the Coastal Barometer website, showing ‘differences in salary’ of three municipalities. The x-axis presents time (from 1994 to 2002). The y-axis shows the range of income, at which value one constitutes the average income (adapted from VLIZ, 2003) All data of the Coastal Barometer is accessible for the wide public by internet presence. Thereby, it is focussed on a simple and user-friendly presentation and description, which can easily be understood by everyone. Therewith the Coastal Barometer initiated a far-reaching discussion on future development of the Belgium coast (VLIZ, 2003).


See also

Internal Links

External Links

  • The present study was performed within the frame of a Diploma thesis at the Technical University Berlin which was published as ICZM-Odra report no. 44, ISSN 1614-5968 download

The main author of this article is Tim Nandelstaedt
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Tim Nandelstaedt (2020): Analysis of the ICZM process in Belgium. Available from [accessed on 14-07-2024]