National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Government of India

KGP Research

ICZM Process: A Roadmap towards Coastal Sustainability

The coast is a high priority area for development activities spurred by globalization and trade requirements. Since most development activities are sectoral and highly competitive, there is often conflict for space and resources. The pressure on natural ecosystems is high and has resulted in extensive destruction and degradation of coastal ecosystems in the recent past. In order to achieve sustainable development of the coast, integrated coastal zone management [ICZM] has been recommended as a tool. ICZM is a planning and coordinating process, where the primary purpose is to bring together various concerned agencies to work towards common objective [s].

In India, since 1991, the Notification issued under the Environment [Protection] Act, 1986 has been used for coastal protection by classifying a 500m zone from the high tide line as the Coastal Regulation Zone, [CRZ] where [development] activities are severely restricted. The notification was reissued in 2011. While managing the coastal area has to be firmly rooted in the legislation, the 500m boundary is not always practical or meaningful for managing the coastal area as impacts on the coast can originate beyond the 500m that is regulated. ICZM provides a larger perspective for development-related activities as well as conservation of coastal ecosystems. The coast is also a highly vulnerable area especially with reference to impacts of climate change and sea level rise. There is also conflict for space and resources. Working within the constraints of limited space for competing resources, ICZM can help by providing a mechanism along with tools that allow development activities underscored by the precautionary principle while ensuring rational resource allocation and conservation of ecosystems. It also ensures incorporation of environmental and social concerns in the developmental activities.

The process of preparing an ICZM plan is discussed (Fig. l) under the following five phases:

  • Phase I Inception
  • Phase II Coastal Profiling
  • Phase III Visioning and Strategy Formulation
  • Phase IV Planning and Integration
  • Phase V Implementation, Monitoring & Evaluation

Capacity building is built into each phase and would vary depending on the stakeholder and the task to be performed. Similarly, various tools are available that can be used in supporting the different tasks in the preparation of the ICZM Plan.

Phase I

The "Inception" Phase is designed to provide the foundation for the development of an ICZM Plan. It begins with the formation of a Facilitation Team [FT] by the nodal department [e.g. Department of Environment], which coordinates the activities through the entire process. The FT may take the assistance of external agencies/institutions at various stages in the process. The initial activity carried out by the FT is to outline the plan boundary [ICZM planning area], the preparation of a background note on the major problems in the plan area as well as a brief profile of that plan area [resources, livelihoods, developmental activities [such as ports, industries] and a list of stakeholders which includes the local coastal communities. Since a variety of stakeholders with different levels of knowledge and understanding are to be involved, an awareness campaign and capacity building exercise has to be organized for each group of stakeholders before holding a combined stakeholder consultation that discusses the key issues in the plan area, broadly defines goals and objectives and the plan boundary. An inception report is then prepared.

Phase II

The second phase is 'Coastal Profiling'. The first activity here is collection and collation of information on the physical features of the coast, coastal processes, resources, land use and land cover and socio-economics with special focus on coastal livelihoods and the dependence of local communities on natural resources. This information would provide a broad overview of the land-people-ecosystem interactions and enable derivation of the important issues, their causes, priorities, and consequences, in order to provide a scientific basis for developing a strategic management plan for the area. This would be prepared in a GIS format to enable the development of a "Decision Support System" during plan preparation as well as implementation. The second activity in this phase is a review of the legal and institutional framework governing the region. The outcome of this review would help analyze and identify if possible, the key stakeholder institution for plan implementation. This would also help ensure the capacity of the institution/ organization to further implement the ICZM Plan. The third activity in this phase is the collection of department/agency-wise [sectoral] plans for the region. The entire process is reviewed by an ICZM Committee [ICZM-C] constituted by the Nodal department.

Phase III

The activities in Phase III, Visioning and Strategy Formulation' are geared towards the development of a stakeholder vision based on which a "coastal strategy" is formulated. The visioning process is a step-wise activity that ensures the involvement and eventual consensus of all stakeholders in the plan area on the development, socio-economics and conservation priorities. Once a vision is agreed upon, the stakeholders could work on how to realize the vision. This would result in the development of a coastal strategy. The goals and objectives as well as the plan boundary that were outlined in Phase I, are redefined/modified [if necessary] and formally accepted. The issues to be addressed by management sub-plans that focus on addressing the issue identified as being of priority. Examples of such sub-plans would include those for shoreline management; pollution management and conservation are identified and listed. These would be reviewed by ICAM Committee

Phase IV

In Phase IV, 'Planning and Integration', continues from Phase III and first involves the development of management sub-plans with input from the departmental/agency plans for the area. Gaps identified are filled to prepare individual sub-plans. For areas with multiple issues, it is expected that there will be multiple sub-plans. Preparation of sub- plans involve detailed analysis of issues [through collection of field data] and development of solutions to solve problems including the cross-sectoral impacts. These sub-plans are now integrated into a single draft ICZM plan by examining them for congruence, and overlaps after resolving inter-departmental conflicts. The plan is also aligned for financial/budgetary allocations. An institutional structure for implementing ICZM Plan is developed and a strategy to monitor the plan implementation is formalized. The integrated plan for the chosen area is presented to the key stakeholders/ community and the feedback is incorporated into the draft ICZM plan. The draft plan is reviewed by ICZM-C before realisation. The plan also recommends appropriate legal coverage/ Notification to ensure its implementation. This is submitted to the State Government as well as to the MoEF for approval.

Phase V

The final Phase, 'Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation', includes Implementation of the ICZM plan by respective departments / agencies, Monitoring and Evaluation using appropriate indicators and adaptive management, to take corrective steps where required. Thus, ICZMP also provides flexibility for change.