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Coastal Zones are facing an increasing ecological, economic and social pressure due to the increasing economic utilization and human activities in these regions worldwide. Beside the fact that there is an increasing number of various interest conflicts, the coastal zones have to cope with missing or insufficiently used integrative decision making structures concerning

  • Land and sea integration
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • holistic, non-sectoral approaches
  • Sustainable development, including the spatial dimension.

The need for an international initiative for a sustainable and integrative coastal zone development becomes evident in the case of the Baltic Sea, where similar problems occur:

  • The increasing utilisation of the coastal zone (land and sea) leads to high pressure and interest conflicts
  • Sectoral decision-making structures within planning and development hamper a sustainable coastal zone development
  • Integrative tools for spatial development in the coastal zone, including land and sea do not exist, or are used insufficiently 
  • Participation of the public within planning and development in coastal zones does not or rarely happen.
  • Cooperation between coastal regions of the Baltic Sea within planning and development is not sufficient.

Within planning and development in the coastal zone, the enormous exchange dynamic of the water and the resulting, transborder ecological (and thus economic and social) consequences are often underestimated. The seawater creates a connection between coastal areas and even neighbouring countries.Increasing human utilization within the coastal zone (for example: coastal protection, harbour installation, exploitation of sand and gravel, oil platforms, runoff of different substances from land to the sea) lead to consequences in coastal zones, which do not necessarily stay in direct connection with the causing region.  Within the Baltic Sea, the natural network by the sea can be retraced quite well, since it is a marginal sea and almost completely enclosed by economically very dynamic and active neighbouring states. The Baltic Sea water therefore connects the municipality of Trelleborg in southern Sweden with Rügen in Germany, thus both regions are causers of, but also do suffer from the problem of eutrophication.  On the other hand, the installation of oil-platforms in the coastal waters of Lithuania affects the hydrological and ecological condition of Latvia´s coast. Pollutants and substances that enter the Baltic Sea cause damage not only in the emitting locality but also in other coastal zones, which do not seem to be connected with the origin community at first sight. But also structural interventions in the coastal zone can lead to considerable changes in neighbouring or more distant coastal zones. The coastal zone is a continuum of land and sea with a mutual interaction.

A sustainable spatial development in the coastal zone can only be achieved by a cross-border cooperation and with an abolition of the administrative-political and mental separation of land and sea at the same time. This requirement becomes obvious concerning measures in the marine area of the coast (for instance offshore-wind energy). No adequate tools exist despite the fact that various interests are touched across borders and both land and sea are affected.Another, essential component of a sustainable coastal zone development is comprehensive public participation. The increasing utilisation of the coastal zones demands involvement of those who are directly affected by these changes. The implementation of the Agenda 21 since 1992 created numerous local and regional groups, initiatives and networks in the entire Baltic Sea Region, who care for a sustainable development. It is necessary to enlarge the geographical reference of these groups towards the entire coastal zone, that means also to the marine side.

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conet CZA 21 Coastal Network - Coastal Zone Agenda 21