Integrated Ocean and Coastal Management

The management of multiple uses and expectations from ever more crowded oceans and coasts is a major challenge for developed and developing countries alike. Faced with increasing resource and user conflicts over sectoral and political boundaries, there is a need to take a more comprehensive, holistic, and integrated approach to natural resource management policies. Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) is a process for accommodating multiple uses in coastal and ocean areas to achieve sustainable development of coastal and ocean areas. Similarly, Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) incorporates the full range of interactions within an ecosystem (including social systems), rather than focusing on individual uses, species, or ecosystem services, with a focus on maintaining ecosystem service functions. The two practices will both be needed in concert to address the huge challenges facing the world’s coastal and ocean areas.

The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) recognized the importance of integrated ocean and coastal management. Chapter 17 (the oceans chapter) of Agenda 21 presented a comprehensive blueprint for the management of the world’s oceans, emphasizing that the oceans can no longer be managed as they had been traditionally, through a sector-by-sector, use-by-use approach. Instead, as Chapter 17 put it, approaches that are “integrated in content and anticipatory in ambit” must be adopted. The 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) followed with more specific targets and timetables, calling for “the application by 2010 of the ecosystem approach,” and “promotion of integrated coastal and ocean management at the national level and encouragement and assistance to countries in developing ocean policies and mechanisms on integrated coastal management.”

The Global Ocean Forum has made the promotion, adoption, and improvement of ICM/EBM approaches a key area of focus, and especially supporting the implementation of the major global commitments related to ICM/EBM emanating from the 1992 Earth Summit and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

For more information on the Global Ocean Forum’s work on Integrated, Ecosystem-Based Coastal and Ocean Management, please click here.