Integrating Climate Change into the ICZM planning process - Establishment

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Analysis and Futures  

Setting the Vision  

Designing the Future  

Realising the Vision  


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This is an important stage of the ICZM process. The aim is to set out an operational foundation for the subsequent preparation of the strategy or plan and its implementation, to begin the process of understanding the challenges facing the area and the differing perceptions of those challenges, and to begin building a constituency of support for the strategy or plan.

As far a climate change is concerned, the main concern is to ensure that there is institutional coordination with bodies responsible for climate adaptation and mitigation strategies and plans. All countries have an obligation to produce a communication to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change, detailing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), as well as vulnerability assessments and some actions to adapt to climatic changes [1]. Thus from the outset any actions on climate change under the ICZM should be coordinated with the National Communication Office of the country. In addition, local authorities in many coastal zones are already planning to introduce measures to respond to some of the expected impacts of climate change. It is essential that these authorities and their plans and procedures be brought into the ICZM process at this initiation stage.

Establishing coordination mechanisms

The IMF document identified three groups that constitute the governance structure for the ICZM: the steering group, the technical group and the consultative group. As far as climate change is concerned, its mainstreaming requires the following:

  1. At least one representative from national government or the higher-level competent local administration(s) should have familiarity with climate issues, possibly because s/he is involved in one of the other bodies dealing with this topic.
  2. The technical group needs at least one person with working knowledge of adaptation to climate change
  3. The consultative group should include someone from the National Communication Office as well as representative from all sectors where climate issues have been assessed as being important at stage 4 Scoping

The governance structure is decided during the preparation of the national ICZM strategy and implemented in drawing up the national and local plans.

IMF document on "Establishing the Coordination Mechanism"

Defining territorial scope

Climatic changes will have impacts on areas that do not respect the boundaries of a coastal zone as defined in the ICZM. Sea level rise, for example may well affect areas outside the defined zone, and extreme events could impact on areas that extend beyond the defined boundaries, yet are part of an integrated area that includes the coastal zones.

As the IMF document states, it is necessary to be practical in defining the territorial scope of the areas to be covered under the plan. The ‘competent’ coastal units should be reconciled with the ecosystem, economic, social and political criteria as appropriate. This also applies to maritime zones, where the economic and social criteria should be applied, including coastal tourism, culture, agriculture and economic uses, but also includes patterns of transport and accessibility and urbanisation. In general it makes sense to retain the use of administrative boundaries where possible to maintain the integrity of stakeholder accountability and recognition, policy conformity and statistical information. A pragmatic compromise of ecosystem and administration is required.

The issue of boundary definitions is something to be brought up during the preparation of the national ICZM strategy, with, in our opinion, a pragmatic view as outlined above being the recommended approach. When the national plan is being prepared more details should be provided on how to deal with conflicts between administrative definitions and ecological, economic, social and political zones. Some resolution of these conflicts should be proposed in the National Plan. The local plans should then work with the agreed boundary definitions.

IMF document on "Defining the Territorial Scope"

Defining governance context

As noted at the outset, the institutional context for climate change planning is already well established. In addition to the National Communication Office, and local and regional governments that are considering actions to adapt to climate change, several line ministries and departments have some involvement. These include:

  • Ministry of Agriculture, for possible impacts in terms of crop yields Ministry of Environment, especially the Department dealing with water management and ecosystem health
  • Ministry of Health, dealing with consequences of heat waves, vector and water borne diseases and increased risks of food contamination with higher temperatures
  • Departments responsible for land classification (local and central).
  • Ministry of Tourism

In addition one must not forget that the private sector is actively engaged in the coastal areas. Individuals and enterprises with significant investments will be well aware of the increased climate risks and will be planning to take some measures. These measures, however, will depend very much on what policies the government is putting in place and there is a strong inter-linkage between actions by the two sets of actors. It is critical that the ICZM be aware of the private sector’s plans and provide it with the right framework and incentives so it can make a cost effective contribution to adapting to climate change.

The actions needed to address climate change will involve all these and many of them they will be giving some thought to developing policies to address the problems that are likely to arise.

The ICZM needs to liaise with all of them to understand their positions and, ideally, play the role of coordinating their efforts for the effective management of the coastal zones. This can only be done if the ICZM has buy in at the highest level and recognition for its capacity to play this coordinating role. The identification of the key institutional aspects of the ICZM should be done in the national ICZM strategy, including those relating to addressing climate change. In the national and local plans these linkages should be implemented, ensuring that all the important stakeholders are included in the process of preparing the plan.

IMF document on "Defining the Governance Context "


The main problems arising from climate change have been broadly identified under the following headings: damage to infrastructure from sea level rise and flooding, declines in agricultural yields, health risks from heat waves, risks to human life from extreme weather events, possible declines in tourism in the high season and possible increases in the shoulder seasons due to changes in climate, shortages of water due to changes in precipitation and possible saline contamination of groundwater, damages to ecosystems from changes in temperature and water availability.

These are the general set of problems that should be noted in the ICZM strategy but not all will apply in all coastal zones. It is at the stage of preparing the ICZM local coastal plans that the ones most relevant to the respective areas need to be identified.

The main drivers and pressures from climate change include the following: sea level rise, changes in precipitation (causing declines in water availability in some areas and during some seasons and causing floods in other areas and other seasons), increased frequency of extreme events (hurricanes, floods etc., heat waves) and possible increases in risks of vector and water borne diseases. At this stage an identification of these pressures, and an idea of where and when they are likely to be most serious, is required. As noted in the IMF document, the pressures will depend, among other things, on future plans for land use, which is a key determinant of the impacts that result from the climate-related factors just identified. The climate drivers will also depend on policies for water and land management that are in place or likely to be introduced.

The national ICZM strategy should note the important climatic drivers and pressures. It is at the national plan stage that national level data will be collected and at the local plan stage that further relevant data will be assembles. There are data sources that provide information at some degree of spatial disaggregation [2] [3] [4]. For further information on the likely pressures, a downscaling exercise may be needed, but this can be undertaken, if required, at a later stage in the process.

The scoping stage, including also risk identification, is primarily a desk exercise in conjunction with key stakeholders and technical experts from relevant sectors. As noted in the IMF document risk vulnerability is conventionally categorised according to the:

  • Nature of the risk and its consequence
  • Magnitude of the possible adverse consequences from each risk
  • Probability of occurrence of each risk

In the case of climate change, objective probabilities cannot be defined in most cases. However, broad probability categories based on modelling and expert judgment are available for some pressures and impacts. These define, for example, when an event such as an increase in temperature is ‘likely’ if the probability of it being exceeded is less than 50%; or unlikely if the probability of it being exceeded is less 10%. At this stage the exercise should see which of the key impacts identified in the previous stage have some probabilistic information. This is likely to be available for extreme events, sea level rise, temperature increase and possibly change in precipitation. Together with the data on key problems such information will help at the later stage when the analysis of options is carried out.

The nature of the risk identification and its relevance for the ICZM should be noted during the preparation of the national ICZM strategy. The collection of probabilistic data at the national level should be collected for the national ICZM plan and at the local level for the local plans. The last of these, however, may require some downscaling of the models that predict the impacts.

The IMF document on scoping problems and issues, scoping pressures and drivers, and scoping risks.

Engaging the stakeholders

Stakeholder participation at several stages of the strategy and plan preparation is essential. As far as climate change is concerned key groups need to be informed about the major climate changes in the area of interest, the likely consequences of these changes and the increased risks they represent. This can be done without providing too much technical detail. The groups who need to be involved will include local communities, government agencies, NGOs, business, media and opinion formers etc., providers of tourism services, private developers, and those engaged in agriculture and fisheries. Based on these consultations options for action will be drawn up.

The same groups need to be consulted once these options have been evaluated technically to get their feedback. The final plan will be based on a consensus that includes opinions from these key stakeholders. As the IMF document recommends, a simple communication strategy should be produced during or shortly after the establishment stage outlining how these different participatory activities will be carried out and what other, wider, communications will be undertaken.

The national ICZM strategy will include the preparation of the broad communication strategy and identification of key stakeholders. The details of the communication strategy and groups or individuals to be invited will be spelt out in the national and local plans.

IMF document on "engaging the stakeholders"

Proposing the vision

The vision is prepared at this stage with the objective of ensure the smooth running of the project and a common understanding of the time constraints, and to allocate resources efficiently over the plan period. There is not much special to add here about integrating climate change into the vision. It will give rise to specific actions and activities, which form part of the whole structure. Some of the analytical measures identified in may give rise to outsourcing studies that provide technical material which has to be integrated into the main planning framework. This may also be the case with some other components of the ICZM. All such subcontracts have to be seen as part of the overall input into the preparation of the plan and there has to be enough capacity within the core team to be able to understand the results of these studies and to use them in drawing up the main integrated coastal zone management plan.

IMF document on how to propose a potential vision

Decision on Strategic Environmental Assessment

As defined in the IMF document, a strategic environmental assessment is: “a systematic process for evaluating the environmental consequences of proposed policy, plan or programme initiatives in order to ensure that they are fully included and appropriately addressed at the earliest stage of decision-making, on a par with economic and social considerations.” [5]

A number of countries have a statutory requirement to carry out an SEA when a major project or policy change is being considered. The tool can be useful when there are actions being proposed across a number of sectors, or where actions in one sector are likely to have impacts across several sectors. It can also be useful when the time frames for different actions are different – for example some land use measures in the short term may conflict with climate adaptation objectives in the long term. If a decision is taken to carry out an SEA for the whole ICZM, then this will include of course any policies and measures for the climate component. At the outset it has to be noted that the exercise is a complicated one: to examine a combination of policies across a range of sectors for their impacts on the environmental resources. It can only really be done at of the ICZM and will require considerable resources and time. At the end of the day it is a decision that the steering group has to take in the light of national policies concerning SEAs.

In any event, if a SEA is not done, some assessment of the cross effects of the different policies will be needed. Development programmes that expand land use in coastal areas have to be undertaken with the consequences for future climate costs in mind. Expansion of tourism that does not take account of the impacts of climate change on visitors or of changes in water availability on the water balance could result in failure. Hence such cross effects should be accounted for at the analytical stage, whether it is through a SEA or through other more ad hoc methods, which may prove easier to carry out.

The decision on an SEA has to be taken at the strategy stage. Its application will be within the national plan (it is unlikely that the local plans will have the resource to prepare an SEA).

IMF document on how to deciding on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

See Also

This article has been drafted by PAP/RAC
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.


  1. For details see: Annex One countries (i.e. those that have a target reduction of GHGs under the Kyoto Protocol) also have to provide information on polices and measures that have been introduced.
    The CIRCE Integrated Project, funded under the European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme, aims to reach this objective, highlighting impacts and possible adaptation actions of the climate change in the Mediterranean region that includes Europe, North Africa and Middle East.
    Using detailed disaggregated, bottom-up approaches, combined with top-down aggregated analysis, this project aims to provide a comprehensive and consistent analysis of the full costs of climate change. It covers the member states of the EU as well as India and China.
    The objective of the PESETA project (Projection of Economic impacts of climate change in Sectors of the European Union based on bottom-up Analysis) is to make a multi-sectoral assessment of the impacts of climate change in Europe for the 2011-2040 and 2071-2100 time horizons.
  5. Evaluating Socio Economic Development, SOURCEBOOK 2: Methods & Techniques. Strategic environmental impact assessment. EU Regional Policy, INFOREGIO, December 2009