Formal Capacity Building

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Since 1992, the Integrated approach to Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), was embraced by nations around the world. Nowadays, Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) has been recognized by the European Commission as the tool to achieve the Sustainable Development of European coastal areas.

ICZM implies integration among different coastal and marine sectors (e.g. fisheries, tourism, transportation, etc.) and levels of government (from the international to the local) as well as among the different coastal research and the management entities. However, the reality is that coastal research and management have largely focused on single disciplines and single sectors respectively while at the same time working independently from each other. As acknowledged in the Evaluation Report of ICZM in Europe[1], the challenges to develop and implement ICZM initiatives are considerable:

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

To achieve integrated management, it is very important to provide the appropriate Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes (K/S/As) to a wide range of coastal actors (i.e. scientists and researchers, managers and planners, decision-makers and policy makers, etc). ICZM represents a new management paradigm for the coastal professionals and a new way of thinking for the scientists. Therefore, human capacity building efforts need to be made in two areas:

(i) to prepare a cadre of new coastal actors in the K/S/As needed for ICZM; and

(ii) to re-orient existing coastal actors generally entering the ICZM field through single disciplines and sectors

Formal Capacity Building includes education, training and professional development. They are important formal means to contribute to Human Capacity Building, which addresses the preparation of the required coastal actors to carry out ICZM.

It is important to note that these formal efforts can be either academic or non-academic in origin.

ICZM Education and Training

The Historical Context

Since the emergence of the ICZM field in the late 1960s, education and training has developed in parallel with both academic thinking and practical application[2]. The coastal management programmes, which have been carried out since mid-1970s, have further developed conceptual methodological frameworks sustaining research, which in turn can be used to inform the goals and content of approaches to education[3].

There have been a number of efforts in the past several years to assess needs for ICZM training and education, to estimate the demand for coastal professionals, to develop models of ICZM training and education, and to develop strategies for carrying out ICZM capacity building at global, regional, national and sub-national scales (see also Past initiatives to define capacity building needs in ICZM).

The preparatory work to the 1998 Genoa Conference included an extended questionnaire-based investigation carried out by Cicin-Sain et al (2000)[4]. The questionnaire was addressed to academic institutions and non-governmental organisations actually or potentially involved in coastal education. The aim was that of sketching a comprehensive view of what conceptual and methodological approaches, technical tools and curricula were in use.

The results of such investigation resulted on a review of selected education and training international efforts in ICZM worldwide. The international character of education and training in ICZM at that time was summarized in the following points:

  • There are 2 major types of capacity building efforts, often with certain overlapping:

(1) University-based ICZM degrees programmes or with specialization in ICZM (module within the programme), at different levels (under and postgraduate levels);

Perhaps one of the most significant developments in the 1990s was the widespread increase of ICZM related tertiary education degree programmes, which is the result of the university recognition that ICZM is a legitimate field of knowledge accompanied by an actual or potential job market for graduates[5].

It is important to note that the university capacity should be developed -according to one of the Rhode Island workshop[6] key recommendations-, to meet 2 kinds of needs: short-term training needs which provide an orientation to the ICZM field and develop specific skills; and longer-term education programmes that offer more depth and experience.

(2) Specific ICZM courses (generally short courses); these courses can be taught in the context of degree programmes and non-university entities (such as research centres, NGOs, etc.)

  • The knowledge of ICZM concepts and processes was a common feature of the surveyed courses, with some varying degrees of emphasis
  • Most of the surveyed courses were designed to introduce important features and elements of ICZM (e.g. focus on conceptual background, the role of the integration concept, and practical skills for specific management situations); a widely discussed issue was conflicts among coastal users
  • Whereas multiple coastal-related disciplines were utilized in ICZM courses, a relatively less explored area was the role of economic principles of ICZM
  • Case studies were commonly used to reflect what has been learned from ICZM practice. In contrast, international guidelines and agreements received relatively less attention

Five major issues in the further development of ICZM education and training were also identified:

  1. Reaching consensus on core concepts and frameworks in the field (which indicates process of ‘maturation’ of the field);
  2. The need to tailor the content of ICZM courses to fit the varying contexts (i.e. minimum tailoring for elements dealing with physical coastal processes; some tailoring for types of management measures; and detailed tailoring for aspects that involve institutions and their interactions);
  3. Realizing holism in ICZM (through integration);
  4. The need for networking in ICZM education and training (to enhance the sharing and dissemination of current practices of teaching and training in ICZM);
  5. Special issues associated with building capacity in ICZM in the developing world.

In Europe, there are a high number of ICZM related courses. However, fragmentation of the training and educational effort has been identified in many European official reports as one of the main concerns regarding the planning and implementation of ICZM initiatives. As these efforts are developed in isolation, existing resources are not fully exploited.

In fact, the aforementioned Evaluation Report of ICZM in Europe[7] carried out in 2006, acknowledged that there is little systematic comparative information on the growing number ICZM related courses in Europe, making it difficult to reach an overall assessment of what is being taught and with what success. At present, although there are a number of specialized websites belonging to European institutions that offer information on existing ICZM related courses, this information is neither exhaustive nor up-to-date. In fact, one of the actions proposed in such evaluation report under the title Review, endorse and promote academic courses on ICZM is to establish a European database for comparative analysis of education and training courses and corresponding materials.

Types of Education and Training efforts in Europe

Academic and non-academic courses

  • Accredited / Not Accredited Courses

There is a wide range of academic certifications both at the under- and postgraduate levels (from PhD to BSc) for educational courses, although coastal management is most frequently found in Europe in the format of MSc courses. No official academic accreditation corresponds, in general, to training courses (such as participation certificates or the equivalent to exam credits).

  • Undergraduate (Basic) and Postgraduate (Advanced)

Although the MSc is the most common format to deliver ICZM related courses, in some European countries (such as UK and The Netherlands), there are also university degrees at the undergraduate level entirely dedicated to coastal management.

  • Others: Distance Learning, E-Learning, Access Courses (Basic/Advanced), Exchange Programmes, Internships, etc.

Besides, with the incorporation of new information technologies in education, a number of computer-based learning tools are being developed alongside ICZM programmes. Although face to face teaching is still the main method of delivering ICZM related courses, the percentage of distance-learning and e-learning courses is increasing.

Student mobility is promoted through the establishment of educational exchange opportunities. Internships –as a pre-professional period of work experience- provide students with the opportunity to gain ‘real-life’ experience in the field of ICZM. Internships supplement academic classes and, in some cases, earn college credit (Ballinger and Lalwani 2000).

Both educational exchange programmes and internships appear as common practice in many European countries.

Associated Services

  • Centres of Excellence / Thematic Researchers
  • Education and Training Networks (European / Global)
  • Funding and Grant Opportunities
  • Work Experience Opportunities
  • Career Case Studies (Sharing Experiences, Career Pathways)
  • Others: Employer Input and Feedback, Case Studies, Skill Requirements, Forum, Platform

See also

ICZM Professional Development

Professional development refers to the enhancement of personnel working in ICZM related fields by providing them with new Skills, Knowledge and Attitudes (S/K/A) for performing new tasks strictly related to the ICZM Policy Cycle (see also Capacity Building Needs Associated to the ICZM Cycle). This includes Continuous Professional Development (CPD) activities for new and existing coastal professionals.


  1. Rupprecht Consult & International Ocean Institute 2006. Evaluation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe -Final Report, Cologne, Germany
  2. Smith H., 2000, Education and training for integrated coastal area management: the role of the university system. Ocean & Coastal Management 2000; 43:379-387.
  3. Vallega, A., 2000, Introduction: Coastal education –a multifaceted challenge. Ocean & Coastal Management 2000 (Editorial); 43:277-290.
  4. Cicin-Sain B, Knecht R, Vallega A, Harakunarak A. Education and training in integrated coastal management: lessons from the international arena. Ocean & Coastal Management 2000; 43:291-330.
  5. Chircop, A., 2000, Teaching integrated coastal management: lessons from the learning arena. Ocean & Coastal Management 2000; 43:343-359.
  6. Crawford, B., Cobb, J.S., Ming, C.L., 1995 (editors). Educating Coastal Managers: Proceedings of the Rhode Island Workshop, W. Alton Jones Campus, University of Rhode Island, March 4-10, 1995.
  7. Rupprecht Consult & International Ocean Institute 2006. Evaluation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe -Final Report, Cologne, Germany

Related articles

Capacity Building in the frame of EU ICZM related policies
Capacity Assessment in ICZM
Past initiatives to define capacity building needs in ICZM
Capacity Building Needs Associated to the ICZM Cycle
Assessment of training needs
Methodologies for assessing the capacity needs in ICZM

External links

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 (2021): Formal Capacity Building. Available from [accessed on 23-07-2024]