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C2.4 Coastal zone management plans


Integrated Coastal Area and River Basin Management (ICARM) combines two schools of water planning: Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). ICARM is not a new management concept, but a process of linking the management activities in the river basin and the coastal zone, where linked issues make this necessary and appropriate. While the two management approaches have developed more or less separately, the situation of the real world calls for the creation of close links. The types of link are:

  • Natural resource links between coastal and freshwater systems. These are widely recognised and are caused by: changes in stream flows caused by various development projects; land use changes, in particular deforestation and intensive green revolution agriculture, and discharges of domestic wastewater and industrial effluents, have all caused significant adverse impacts in coastal ecosystems. Salinity barrages in coastal zones have destroyed the natural migration patterns for fish and damaged upstream fisheries.
  • Socio-economic links between river basins and coastal zones are equally important, but less visible. Development of the agricultural sector may often create severe impacts on coastal fisheries, where emissions of surplus fertilisers cause eutrophication, oxygen depletion and reduction in fish stock. Water supply needs of the rapidly growing coastal cities and industries create competition with crucial irrigation needs of the agricultural sector in the hinterland.

These links emphasise the importance of Institutional links. Most often, the two areas are managed by separate authorities in different ministries, with weak communication and co-ordination. However, in order to achieve coherent planning and management it is imperative that the institutions and stakeholders in communities and businesses co-operate to overcome differences, through the exchange of information, joint establishment of objectives and strategies, transparent resolution of conflicts, etc.

Depending on local and specific issues, ICARM may be anything from a comprehensive management framework for a smaller region to the addition of a coastal delta or estuary to a large river basin plan. As in IWRM planning, ICARM plans include the actions necessary to develop an effective framework of policies, legislation, financing structures, capable institutions with clearly defined roles and a set of management instruments. The formulation of an ICARM Plan will normally take place at the basin level and can follow a distinct five phase approach:

  • Identify the range of issues (natural, socio-economic and institutional) and links which are of priority in the water body;
  • Highlight the issues that may be addressed without accounting for upstream-downstream links and address these in conventional IWRM or ICZM frameworks;
  • Identify the linked issues at all levels national, basin, local, etc.;
  • For these linked issues, analyse the present enabling environment, the institutional framework and the politically and technically appropriate management instruments to address them;
  • Prepare strategies to develop: the deficient parts in the framework of national policies (A1), legislation (A2) and regulations (C6) for ICARM; the institutional roles (B1 and B2) that allow a co-ordinated implementation of ICARM, and the required management instruments and associated skills. International strategies have to be developed in collaboration with other riparian nations.

Lessons learned

  • A realistic ICARM plan requires the active commitment and joint involvement of both river basin managers and coastal zone managers.
  • Institutional deficiencies are often a significant constraint for establishing an efficient management framework.
  • Functions, structures and procedures need to take into account the political, social, financial and human resource constraints, the existing institutional structures, the management capacity and the capacity for change.
  • Structures should be designed as the need arises and should be flexible enough to meet immediate needs and leave the possibility for expansion open whenever appropriate.
  • Multi-stakeholder involvement (C4.2) is essential in the decision processes in order to formulate a plan whose outcome is acceptable.
  • Maintenance of ecosystem productivity is an essential element in the planning process.

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