Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM)

Integrated Coastal Area Management - Definition

"Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM) can be defined as a continuous and dynamic process by which decisions are taken for the sustainable use, development and protection of the coastal and marine areas and resources. ICAM acknowledges the interrelationships that exist among coastal and ocean uses and the environments they potentially affect, and is designed to overcome the fragmentation inherent in the sectoral management approach. ICAM is multi-purpose oriented. It analyzes and addresses implications of development, conflicting uses, and interrelationships between physical processes and human activities, and it promotes linkages and harmonization among sectoral coastal and ocean activities" (Cicin-Sain & Knecht, 1998).

ICAM - Background

Economic, environmental and demographic pressures converge sharply in the world's coastal areas. Coastal waters are highly biodiverse, and support a large percentage of the ocean's life while coastal lands are, almost universally, intensely populated. Taken together they constitute the 'coastal area' and support all levels of economic activity that are both the preconditions for, and the result of, these unique circumstances. Furthermore, the interactive dynamics between economic, environmental and demographic pressures are complex. As the stresses on the world's coastal areas intensify, there is an increasing need for governmental and management regimes that are aware of and sensitive to the multi-dimensional nature of the issues in coastal areas. Specifically, the scientific communtiy, the private sector (developers, industrialists and individual users), legislators and policy makers must collaborate in developing sustainable, long term management policies and strategies that seek to find a balance between resource exploitation, ecosystem health and quality of life in the area. Thus, ICAM is not only a technique, it is also a goal.

ICAM - Mandate and Practice

Every major international convention and agreement concerning the oceans and coasts since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) has mandated an integrated approach to coastal and marine resource management. Moreover, this mandate was strongly re-endorsed during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in 2002, Johannesburg. In recognition of and compliance with this, ICAM programs are being implemented around the globe via partnerships between IGO's (including many UN agencies), national governments, and regional/local institutions. By defintion, ICAM is a process, the details of which are specific to the needs and management priorities of any given coastal area. However, commonalities exist among coastal areas and as such, ICAM guiding principles and tools have been developed by organizations such as the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the World Bank.