Relentless population growth, potential hurricanes and typhoons, and rising sea level threaten to create unsustainable coastal areas. Coastal zone management policy aims for a sustainable coast: one that meets present needs while not constraining the needs of future generations. Sustainability depends upon a working balance among environmental, social, and economic needs. In pursuit of sustainability, a sometimes elusive goal, contemporary coastal planners and managers rely upon an approach called integrated coastal management (ICM), a process that recognizes interrelationships among coastal and ocean environments and tries to reduce fragmentation from single-sector management, overlapping governmental jurisdictions, and the land-water interface. Recognized formally in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development, the concept of ICM has spread worldwide. Many types of applications have been developed to meet the needs of coastal populations in both developed and underdeveloped nations. As ICM programs mature, analysts are documenting their lessons, benefits, and costs. Meanwhile, the programs continue to adapt and evolve as they attempt to integrate science and policy in a complex and challenging coastal setting.
Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences, Volume 6, 1 January 2019,