A continuous and dynamic process by which decisions are made for the sustainable use, development and protection of coastal and marine areas and resources. ICM acknowledges the interrelationships that exist among coastal and ocean uses and the environments they potentially affect (http://www.egreenideas.com/glossary.php?group=i).

ICZM is a dynamic, multidisciplinary and iterative process to promote sustainable management of coastal zones. It covers the full cycle of information collection, planning (in its broadest sense), decision making, management and monitoring of implementation. ICZM uses the informed participation and cooperation of all stakeholders to assess the societal goals in a given coastal area, and to take actions towards meeting these objectives. ICZM seeks, over the long-term, to balance environmental, economic, social, cultural and recreational objectives, all within the limits set by natural dynamics. 'Integrated' in ICZM refers to the integration of objectives and also to the integration of the many instruments needed to meet these objectives. It means integration of all relevant policy areas, sectors, and levels of administration. It means integration of the terrestrial and marine components of the target territory, in both time and space.

Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) is a process for the management of the coast using an integrated approach, regarding all aspects of the coastal zone, including geographical and political boundaries, in an attempt to achieve sustainability.
This concept was born in 1992 during the Earth Summit of Rio de Janeiro. The policy regarding ICZM is set out in the proceedings of the summit within Agenda 21, Chapter 17. The European Commission defines the ICZM as follows:

Principles of ICZM (from TVLink Europe)

The principles at the heart of ICZM are simple and straightforward.

First of all, coastal zones are influenced by a range of piecemeal but interconnected policies. The ICZM strategy provides for a holistic approach which will study the cause and effect of each of these. The aim is to ensure that the environmental, social and economic impact on the coastal zone of each policy is closely looked into. To be successful, a coastal zone management strategy must be forward looking and anticipate potential problems. It is not a one-time fix approach and will naturally evolve over time as the need arises. The ICZM process brings together all interested parties of a coastal area into designing a strategy for their region. Harnessing the involvement and the knowledge of local actors is vital in identifying and resolving the real issues faced by the coastal region. It promotes a sense of shared responsibility and reduces potential conflicts when implementing this strategy.

A multi-tiered strategy

ICZM is not a policy but a strategy. It is a strategy that must involve all segments of society, all economic sectors, and all administrative levels. The role of local administrations is best adapted to provide information on local conditions and involve local interested parties. Regional administrations can co-ordinate and provide a broader and long-term outlook on initiatives at local level while national administrations must provide the legal framework and support which will lead to coherent ICZM strategies.

Coastal Zone Management: International Regimes

Today, more than half or the global population or in absolute figures well above 2½ billion people, and many of the world's major cities are located in coastal areas. Although estimates vary considerably, UNCED's Agenda 21 suggests that up to three-quarters of the global population could be living within 60 km from the coast by 2020. Increasing population density, industrial development, and economic growth have given rise to a variety of additional economic activities, the combined effects of which increase the pressure on coastal areas and their resources. This frequently results in cumulative and complex impacts on the environment, depletion of resources and intensified conflict between competing user groups (http://www.iczm.sabah.gov.my/Reports/Introductory%20note/mst-ICZM.html).
Within the past 30 years there has been a growing recognition of the need for coastal zone management at national as well as international levels and the development of coastal management programs and plans are on the increase world-wide.
The earliest significant efforts in the 1970s were given in Europe and USA out of concern over the quality of coastal and marine environments prompting amongst others the US Coastal Zone Management Act in 1972.
The 1980s saw a number of CZM programs take off in developing countries some associated with technical assistance from  

  • UNEP´s Mediterranean Action Plan
  • USAID/URI programmes in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Ecuador and USAID/ICLARM programme in the ASEAN Countries including the development of the Johor Bahru CZM Plan) and
  • some evolving independently (Brazil, Costa Rica, China, Argentina, Colombia and others).

In the 1990s the progress continues and today CZM Programs offer a wide range of examples in terms of policy goals, approaches and techniques. Especially within the past decade an increasing number of fora have been focusing on CZM issues.
Important international events include UNCED (1992), and World Coast Conference (1993). The World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and African Development Bank (AfDB) all recognize the special importance of coastal areas and resources by dedicating efforts towards developing guidelines for coastal project development (i.e. Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines for coastal and marine resources) and all are involved in coastal zone management programs).

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Organizations that have explored conceptual approaches to ICZM in addition to many others include;

    • UNEP
    • UNDP
    • FAO
    • OECD
    • EC

An increasing number of bilateral development agencies are adopting CZM strategies in project development in coastal areas are

    • SIDA
    • USAID
    • Danida
    • DANCED and others

The trend in these efforts have been towards more comprehensive and integrated coastal programmes considering the coastal zone as a distinct region with resources and activities that require special attention.

Links:   a. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/iczm/biblio.htm
Management Boundaries

Ideally management area boundaries should delimit the area which includes all relevant biophysical, economic and other social interactions. This would imply a coastal zone extending at least from the oceanward edge of the exclusive economic zone, usually 200 nautical miles, to the inland limit of climatic influence.

For most but the smallest countries however the scale puts a practical limit on the extent of a manageable area and other boundaries have to be defined as far as possible incorporating all relevant factors. Planning for such an area should take into account the biophysical, economic and social linkages with the outside. There are a number of landward and seaward boundaries which may be considered using geophysical, political, economic, ecological, institutional and organizational criteria as indicated in the figure below. The high degree of overlap between delimited areas provides no obvious choice and management programmes have adopted a wide range of definitions according to the issues triggering the management process.
Physical criteria such as a certain isobath or the edge of the continental shelf have been used as well as physical landmarks in the landward direction. Political and administrative boundaries have the advantage of being easily understood, readily representable and legislatively viable. Delineation using environmental criteria such as tidally influenced areas, may have sound ecological and scientific basis but would often prove difficult to define accurately

Property Rights and Control in the Coastal Zone

In international waters outside the EEZ control is pursued through a number of international conventions many of which may affect the jurisdiction closer to the shore or even on land.
Within the
territorial sea and the EEZ
, national government control is exercised. Some authority is frequently delegated to coastal sub-national governments.
For the
intertidal zone
, the public trust is asserted, which in turn carries predominant government control.
shore lands
, are often subject to extensive government control.
For the
coastal uplands
, the tradition in most nations is to exercise less control than in the more shoreward areas.
Finally, areas which have traditionally enjoyed no government control with respect to coastal resources are usually located inland of the coastal watershed boundary or beyond the most ocean-ward jurisdictional claim.

Almost all developing nations apply several of the management strategies identified below.

National economic planning

Broad-scope sectoral planning of coastal uses or resources

Regional seas

Nation -or state-wide land use planning and regulation

Special area plans or regional plans

Critical area protection

Environmental impact assessment of coastal development proposals

Mandatory policies and advisory guidelines

Acquisition programmes

Shore lands exclusion or restrictions

Coastal atlases and data banks

International conventions

Table:   Selected examples of coastal area boundaries from coastal zone management programs
(Source: http://www.iczm.sabah.gov.my)


Landward boundary

Seaward boundary


New Jersey USA

30 m - 30 km depending on urban

Tidal, bay and ocean state waters

State Coastal Programme

Rhode Island

200 feet from shoreward boundaries of coastal features specified actions likely to damage coastal environments

Territorial sea (3 mile) excluding fishery

State Coastal Programme


All land except state forest reserves

State waters

State Coastal Programme


All land and water areas 1 km inland from MHWM and areas inundated by tides any time of the year

From MHWM to 200 m isobath



Administrative and selected environmental units

60 m isobath



District boundaries

Up to 20 km off shore to include islets off Mersing



Boundaries of coastal municipalities inland municipalities with brackishwater aquaculture

100 fathom isobath



Inner regions on marine dependant systems or 1 km whichever is the greatest

Outer reaches of fisheries resource systems which are associated with or influenced by the coast



Entire island

Territorial waters and offshore islands



District boundaries

Shallow continental shelf


Costa Rica

200 m from MHWM


National Coastal Programme
Law of the Marine and Terrestrial Zone 6043

Sri Lanka

300 m from MHWM

2 km from MLWM

URI CRMP. Coast Conservation Act 1981.


Variable line depending of issues in five special management areas.



Links:   http://www.iczm.sabah.gov.my/Reports/Introductory%20note/mst-ICZM.html#fn6
Legal provisions for integrated coastal zone management
(Source: http://www.ciesin.org/TG/PI/TREATY/unced.html)  

    • CZM – CZM Act, USA, 1972
    • 1980s – Term Integrated added
    • 1992 – ICZM as principal recommendation of Agenda 21, UNCED
    • ICM – limitations of the term zone. Need for a more holistic approach

Development_(UNCED), _Rio_de_Janeiro,_Brazil


Current Status of ICZM
Dealing with the Issues:      
A common framework for NEW INTERREG Programme area International Framework:     
e.g. WSSD, 2002; UN & FAO Voluntary Code of Conduct for Sustainable Fishing, 1995; UNCED, 1992; UN Framework on Climate Change, 1992; UNCLOS, 1982; Bonn Convention, 1979; Bern Convention, 1979; MARPOL, 1978; Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, 1971 Regional Framework:          
e.g. OSPAR Convention, 1992 – NE Atlantic       European Framework:
e.g. Structural Funds, CAP, CFP, EAPs, ESDP, TEN-T, EU Strategy for ICM. Legislation: Horizontal – EIA Directive; SEA Directive (to be transposed 2004). Sectoral – Bathing Water Directive, Shellfish Water Directive, Waste Water Directive, Nitrates Directive, Birds Directive, Habitats Directive, Water Framework Directive.