ICZM Strategies, Plans or Programmes

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What is an ICZM strategy, plan or programme?

The ICZM strategy, plan or programme should be a logical output of the preceding stages of the ICZM Process. More specifically, the ICZM strategy, plan or programme is identifying the preferred "trajectory" of change in the coastal area based on the approved objectives, securing its materialisation through concrete actions following an action plan for its implementation, and measuring its success by using a set of indicators. Behind this technical description, the ICZM strategy, plan or programme is simply an integrated set of desired and integrated outcomes - the "what", along with an action plan to realise them - the "how". ICZM complements and fills gaps in spatial planning and other sectoral plans or strategies in coastal area. Most importantly, it provides an action plan and a governance structure for delivery.

The Mediterranean ICZM Protocol is very clear on what an ICZM strategy, plan or programme should be. In its Article 18, the strategy should "... based on an analysis of the existing situation, ... set objectives, determine priorities with an indication of the reasons, identify coastal ecosystems needing management, as well as all relevant actors and processes, enumerate the measures to be taken and their cost as well as the institutional instruments and legal and financial means available, and set an implementation schedule." Regarding plans and programmes, the Protocol states that "...coastal plans and programmes, which may be self-standing or integrated in other plans and programmes, shall specify the orientations of the national strategy and implement it at an appropriate territorial level, determining, inter alia and where appropriate, the carrying capacities and conditions for the allocation and use of the respective marine and land parts of coastal zones."


Beyond the generalities of governance, environment and socio-economics, there is no predetermined set of parameters for the specific issues that an ICZM strategy, plan or programme should (or should not) encompass. This will be determined according to the local political and socio-economic context, and the scope and contents of the existing sectoral plans.

The ICZM strategy, plan or programme should be produced with a clear awareness of the local political and financial opportunities and constraints for implementation.

The proposals should encompass the four levels of outcome, namely:

  • The proposals creating an enabling framework - the preconditions required to successfully implement the plan of action.
  • The changes in behaviour: changes in the behaviour of target user groups, changes in the behaviour of key institutions, and changes in how and where financial investments are made.
  • The practical results and benefits including financial investments and motivations for stakeholders and institutions to make the changes in their behaviour that sustained success requires.
  • The appropriate balance between environment and human society, in other words, the sustainable development. These are likely to be more long-term, high-level in nature, embedding the outputs as outcomes and fully embedding integration.

Importantly, the ICZM strategy, plan or programme should be holistic and avoid being single-sector led (for example: coastal erosion, water, nature conservation, spatial planning, etc.).

Action Plan

The ICZM strategy, plan or programme will contain an Action Plan which will set out the management actions for a specific period, usually between three and six years. The Action Plan will specify responsibilities for action, how costs will be shared, lines of accountability and channels for exchanging and distributing information. The ICZM strategy, plan or programme will most likely contain a mix of infrastructure, maintenance and non-structural tasks, such as changes to laws and procedures, regulations, pricing, institutional development, training and other "soft" interventions – it should not be a wish list of projects.


The practical scope of the ICZM strategy, plan or programme and the issues covered should be locally determined. The ICZM strategy, plan or programme should, however, include the following:

  • The Endorsement – the statement of adoption by the appropriate levels of government;
  • The Context - derived from the Analysis and the Scoping Report;
  • The Strategic Vision and Objectives - elaborated through the preferred long-term scenario for the area and its ecosystem context;
  • Long-term Policies – based on the Objectives;
  • Governance Structure – to achieve integration and effective delivery;
  • Institutional framework for implementation;
  • Action Plan and Investment Portfolio, probably on a 3-6 year basis;
  • Indicators – the pre-selected indicators quantified to enable measurement and monitoring of both the process and outcomes of the ICZM strategy, plan or programme.

National Strategies

Specific guidance drafted for the preparation of National ICZM Strategies consistent with the requirements of the ICZM Protocol for the Mediterranean has been prepared and can be downloaded here [1]. This is still a draft version that has been used within the “MedPartnership” project in Algeria and Montenegro. The experience of these two countries in preparing their national ICZM strategies will be used to finalise the document.

Expert view - Marko Prem, PAP/RAC Deputy Director, underlines some important elements of the ICZM strategy or plan

Marko Prem

Both ICZM instruments – ICZM strategy and plan, should avoid duplicating the already existing contents of other sectoral or spatial planning documents. Therefore, a thorough analysis in the Establishment stage of the existing documents and their contents should be done, followed by a comparison with the ICZM objectives for the instrument in question. This gap analysis would inform the ICZM Process what is missing, what does not work, and alike. This would also reduce a sort of negative stand of some stakeholders that should be involved in the ICZM Process but may understand the ICZM strategy or plan as something competing with their own instruments.

On the contrary, the ICZM Process should focus on integrative issues, better coordination among institutions and stakeholders; it should create conditions for discussion and consensus building. This should always take the marine and terrestrial parts of the coastal zone into account.

The integrity of coastal landscapes and ecosystems is a crucial objective of the ICZM Protocol and should be materialised through the preparation of ICZM strategies and plans. First, by the definition of the spatial scope and second, by the definition of the planning units that can be ecosystem based, problem or issue related, could have functionality principle as the basis, socio-economic grounds, statistics or any other communality relevant for the objectives of the strategy or plan. Here, interdependencies between the uses and activities on the land and marine parts of the coastal zone should be underlined.

See Also

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