Friday Jul 30, 2021

ICZM Concepts and methodology



 The Concepts and Principles of ICZM

   Various definitions for ICZM have emerged from conferences and international agreements such as Agenda 21 (Chapter 17). The literature produces several definitions:

• “ICZM is a resource management system which employs an integrative, holistic approach and an interactive planning process in addressing the complex management issues in the coastal area” (Chua, 1993: 81). Planning is usually included in the concept of management in ICZM.

• In Canada, ICZM is a “dynamic process in which a coordinated strategy is developed and implemented for the allocation of environmental, social, cultural, and institutional resources to achieve the conservation and sustainable multiple use of the coastal zone” (Environment Canada, 1994).

• ICZM may be described as "a dynamic and continuous process of administering the use, development, and protection of the coastal zone and its resources towards common objectives of national and local authorities and the aspiration of different resource user groups" (Coastal Area Management and Planning Network, in Knecht and Archer, 1993).

• The OECD stated that the overall purpose of ICZM is to maximize the benefits provided by the coastal zone and to minimize the conflicts and harmful effects of activities upon each other. Its goal has been defined as the production of the optimal mix of products and services from a coastal system, with 'optimal' being the mix that results in maximum social benefit (OECD, 1993). ICZM focuses on the interactions between activities that take place within the coastal zone and activities in other regions. It can guide the sustainable development of coastal areas by reducing the degradation of coastal ecosystems, providing a common framework for the management of multi-sectoral activities, and maintaining options for future uses of coastal resources.

• Integrated management provides policy direction and a process for defining objectives and priorities, and planning development beyond sectoral activities. It adopts a systems perspective and multi-sectoral approach which takes into account all sectoral interests and stakeholder interests, and deals with economic and social issues as well as environmental and ecological issues (Sorensen, 1993). Local, regional, national, and international goals and objectives should be integrated. By employing a holistic, ecosystem perspective recognizing the interconnections between coastal systems and uses, ICZM avoids traditional sectoral management approaches.


It is generally agreed that an ICZM program has the following characteristics (Sorensen,1993):

• It is a dynamic process that continues over time;

• It has a governance arrangement to establish multi-sectoral policies and make allocation decisions;

• It uses one or more management strategies to rationalize allocation decisions;

• Its management strategies recognize the relationships between coastal systems; and,

• It has a geographic boundary with seaward and inland limits.

ICZM is built on the essential elements of coordination and integration Chua (1993). Both horizontal and vertical integrations are required, and this integration can occur over five possible pathways (Ehler and Basta, 1993):

• Across the management of regional economic sectors, such as agriculture and fisheries;

• Among agencies responsible for coastal zone management;

• Among authorities and resources of federal, state, regional, and local institutions;

• Within the management tasks themselves;

• Across the disciplines of management, including science, engineering, economics and law.

There is no unique recipe for ICZM. The process can be triggered by concern over sectoral issues, as in the case of Thailand, Barbados, and Malaysia, or by regional issues as in the Netherlands,  and can be implemented through a number of different institutional schemes and management instruments (OECD, 1993). The very definition and delimitation of the coastal zone varies considerably among coastal States, as does the extent to which integration is desired; the scope of issues, environments, and stakeholders involved in the management process; and, the approaches and methods employed to achieve management objectives.

Diverse factors such as the political and cultural nature of a country or region, the resources available for management, and the existing institutional structure, influence the approach adopted or adapted. As a result, the models do not easily lend themselves to comparison.

Nevertheless, there are common features characterizing the national approaches which can provide insight into the trends and current practice of ICZM internationally.

Coastal management efforts can be divided into two types: single issue versus comprehensive models. Single issue initiatives focus on a single or a limited number of coastal problems. For example, Sri Lanka,Barbados,Queensland,and the United Kingdominitiated their respective coastal zone management programs to address erosion control and shore protection.

Many of these initiatives expanded their scope over time to address a wider array of issues and sectors.

Comprehensive coastal management models adopt a cross-sectoral approach. These models strive to incorporate a variety of issues in order to achieve sustainable development in the coastal zone. For example, New Zealand,10 most U.S. state governments, and the developing federal initiatives in Australia, address a number of issues and activities in the coastal zone under a coordinated and comprehensive management regime. The scope of these management initiatives is often constrained by the mandate and responsibilities of the lead agency.

Although the history of the concept of ICZM in the literature relating  to coasts goes back to two to three decades ago, it is still a relatively little explored topic. Therefore, to advance the purpose for which ICZM is designed, it is imperative to seriously promote it in the public and in the expert levels.

Whilst based on a variety of methods and techniques, there are common principles for ICZM. All countries have chosen their own principles to carry out their ICZM plans on. The main principles of the ICZM are as follows:

  • The coastal zone is a unique system of resources which requires special planning and management methods.
  • Water is the main force integrating resources in the coastal zone.
  • Planning and management for the exploitation of resources at sea and in land is important.
  • The coastline where the land and the sea meet is the focal point for ICZM programs.
  • The management borders of the coastal zone must be drawn based on local issues and problems , and should be adaptable.
  • The main emphasis in the management of coastal resources must be on the conservation of common resources.
  • Prevention of damage from natural disasters and the conservation of natural resources are important goals of ICZM.
  • All levels of government in a state must be involved in planning for the coastal zone.
  • Methods of development which are based on natural processes are more suited to the needs of the coastal zones.
  • It is important to assess the economic and social benefits of public participation.
  • Conservation.
  • Multi-purpose management.
  • The participation of multiple sectors.
  • Attention to traditional methods.
  • The importance of environmental impact assessment programs.


The most important goals of ICZM area as follows:

  • .Improving the quality of life of human communities which rely on coastal resources Conserving biodiversity
  • Increasing the productivity of coastal ecosystems
  • Maximizing the social benefits derived from coastal areas 
  •  Minimizing both clashes among users and the destructive effects of human activities in the coastal zone

CZM programs must seek to address one or more of the following problems:

  • Excessive exploitation of renewable resources through changing or disrupting ecologic relations.
  • The clash of interests stemming from human activities or exploiting various resources located in a specific area.
  • Internal damage including the loss of productivity and biodiversity stemming from the cumulative impact of various activities.


The need for ICZM must not be solely driven by coastal problems. It must be equally due to the necessity of exploiting existing opportunities. In most countries the experience, growth, and application of ICZM is part of sustainable development.

ICZM programs are after achieving the following minor objectives:

  • Conserving valuable environmental resources and facilitating economic growth.
  • Managing the results of human activities along the coast in order to conserve and when possible enhance coastal resources.
  • Maximizing the exploitation of resources through management of resource extraction and productivity.
  • Managing non-renewable resources with a view to making long-term exploitation possible.
  • Improving and strengthening the general use of coastlines.
  • Ensuring the continuity of traditional indigenous use of resources.
  • Ensuring that the public has easy access to the coast for pleasure purposes.
  • Conserving and improving the sanitary conditions on the coasts in line with the interests of the local population and the tourism industry.

ICZM must be based on an ecosystem method. It is an analytical management method which looks at the chemical, physical and biological interaction between the various parts of the system with respect to natural and human factors which act both as system inputs and outputs.

      It must be based on two principles of coordination and integration. It must be a dynamic, just, and transparent process acceptable to all members of the society. In fact a successful ICZM program must reconcile cultural, economic, and environmental concerns, and strike a balance between conservation of the environment and economic development with the least possible reliance on regulations.

       Although ICZM is a cohesive and integrated process, it takes a variety of shapes. Based on international experiences three elements are always present in ICZM programs. They are as follows:

  1. A comprehensive spatial-PHYSICAL program
  2. A coordination program
  3. A capacity building program


All the three elements are important. Weakness in each of these will undermine the entire planning process.

            The experience of developing and developed countries shows that the average time for completing an ICZM program is between eight to twelve years. Completing a planning cycle can be called a generation of program. In some countries like the United States  ,and Australia or Sri Lanka the third generation of ICZM programs is being implemented.

"ICZM is a dynamic process in which a constant strategy for specification of natural, social and cultural sources is so procured and performed that the multiple purposes of coastal zones' constant development and protection are achieved. (Sorensen 1993)"

"Integrated Coastal Zone Management is a flexible process, coincident with resource management for environmental development in coastal zones. The Integrated Coastal Zone Management is not a substitute for social programming. However, emphasizes on correlations between social activities to reach the principal and comprehensive aims. (UNEP, 1993a)"

"The Integrated Coastal Zone Management is one of the most appropriate processes recognized for current and long term issues related to coastal management like: extermination of animal and herbaceous species, diminish in water quality, changes in hydrologic cycles, demolition of coastal resources and increase in water level. (Awosika et al. 1993)"

"Integrated Coastal Zone Management is a dynamic process via which decisions are made for utilization, development and protection of coastal areas and resources to reach goals determined by resource beneficiaries and national, regional and local authorities. The ICZM regards coastal zones' specifications as a worthwhile resource for present and future generations. The ICZM is a multi-purpose process which analyses practical effects of development, common utilization and correlations between physical processes and human activities and takes the relations between sectional activities in coastal zones into account. (Knecht and Archer 1993)"

"The general purpose of ICZM is to maximize obtained benefits from coastal zones and minimize conflicts and destructive human activities. However, it emphasizes on the optimum production of materials and services from coastal systems to acquire the greatest social advantages. (OECD 1993)"