Summary (see below for links to full text)
Our coastal zones are of strategic importance to all Europeans. They are home to a large percentage of our citizens, a major source of food and raw materials, a vital link for transport and trade, the location of some of our most valuable habitats, and the favoured destination for our leisure time. Yet our coastal zones are facing serious problems of habitat destruction, water contamination, coastal erosion and resource depletion. This depletion of the limited resources of the coastal zone (including the limited physical space) is leading to increasingly frequent conflict between uses, such as between aquaculture and tourism. Coastal zones also suffer from serious socio-economic and cultural problems, such as weakening of the social fabric, marginalization, unemployment and destruction of property by erosion. Given the coasts critical value and its potential, these problems must be solved. And, as many of the problems of the coastal zone have a European dimension, the response must include action at the European level.
The Commissions Demonstration Programme on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) has looked at the many inter-related biological, physical and human problems presently facing these zones. Their cause can be traced to underlying problems related to a lack of knowledge, inappropriate and uncoordinated laws, a failure to involve stakeholders, and a lack of coordination between the relevant administrative bodies.
There is no simple, legislative solution to these complex problems. Given the diversity of physical, economic, cultural and institutional conditions, the response must be a flexible strategy focused on addressing the real problems on the ground. An integrated, participative territorial approach is therefore required to ensure that the management of Europes coastal zones is environmentally and economically sustainable, as well as socially equitable and cohesive. For these reasons, and to meet prior commitments, including the EUs obligations under international agreements such as Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, this document announces a European Strategy for ICZM.
The Strategy aims to promote a collaborative approach to planning and management of the coastal zone, within a philosophy of governance by partnership with civil society. The Strategy defines the EUs role as one of providing leadership and guidance to support the implementation of ICZM by the Member States, at local, regional and national levels. The Strategy also underlines the need for continued collaboration between the services of the Commission.
Where possible, the Strategy builds on existing instruments and programmes, many of which were not conceived exclusively for the coastal zones. These will be complemented by certain new activities, particularly with regard to the development of best practice and information diffusion. In order to encourage ICZM action at other administrative levels, the Strategy includes a proposal for a European Parliament and Council Recommendation to the Member States. The Strategy is expected to lead to improved management of coastal zones. It is furthermore expected to improve the implementation of a wide range of EU legislation and policies in coastal zones. It is intended that the approach outlined in this Strategy could also serve as a model for introducing sustainable development in other parts of the European territory.
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