Management Approaches

Each year an estimated 46 million people risk flooding from storm surges. Coasts in many countries currently face severe problems of sea-level rise as a consequence of climate change, leading to potential impacts on ecosystems and human coastal infrastructure. Large numbers of people are also potentially affected by sea-level rise - for example, in the absence of adaptation measures, tens of millions of people in Bangladesh would be displaced by just a one metre increase in sea-level. A growing number of extremely large cities are located in coastal areas, which means that large amounts of infrastructure will be affected. Urbanisation results in increased rates of industrial waste, sedimentation, and wetland loss, which will mean dramatic declines in the health of our oceans.
Hence, new developments in busy coastal areas should not continue unimpeded. Urbanisation should be planned. The direction of expansion, types of development that occur, and effects expansion has on the environment should be monitored etc. For coastline cities the main problems tend to be management of water, infrastructure, protection against flooding (against sea level rise, storms and severe weather) and subsistence, ensuring valuable beaches and waterfront properties are amenable, waterfront and shoreline regeneration, and preventing encroachment onto critically important natural habitats. Monitoring, assessment and management of all these potential problems is attempted across the world.
For the oceans themselves the Law of the Sea Convention established a foundation for sustainable ocean management. In 1994 the Convention afforded all states the right to manage marine resources within their 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). However most developing countries do not have the means to enforce regulations over such a vast expanse of sea. In 1998 the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) prepared a blueprint for sustainable management. Their suggested approach involves six principles:
  1. Plans for conserving marine biodiversity must take account of human needs.
  2. Educating the public and raising awareness must play a role in better marine management.
  3. Communities must have the opportunity to protect and manage their own coastal resources.
  4. Social and economic incentives must be created for conservation and sustainable use of ocean resources.
  5. Policies must reflect the fact that the world's oceans are connected.
  6. Governments must take the lead in managing their own waters, while co-operating with neighbouring states.

    Coastal resources are not easy to manage. Around the world, 177 nations have coastlines, but only 92 have coastal management plans. While this number is nearly twice that of 1992, most countries have yet to move from planning to implementation.

    Here we discuss some of the elements effecting management of human settlements on the coast.