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Assessment Model for the Sustainable Development of European Coastal Zones


This tool is aimed at validating essential methodological tools that foster the strategies of integrated coastal zone management. The assessment model summarises the lessons learnt in the Deduce project regarding two main aims:

  • To propose a common methodological framework for calculating and reporting indicators (MFISD). This proposal is based on the availability of data, calculation experiences and the analysis of the weaknesses and strengths of the development and testing process.
  • To illustrate the usefulness of the coastal Indicators of Sustainable Development (ISD) approach to develop ICZM in EU, national and regional strategies and planning


Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
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Questions this practice may help answer

  • How can I ensure a sound decision making regarding integrated coastal management?
  • What type of indicators can I use in order to asses and evaluate the sustainable development of European Coastal Areas?

Implementation Context

The assessment model was intended to demonstrate, that the coastal policy framework at the time did not define a consistent and common approach to the measurement and evaluation of the levels of sustainability in EU coastal and maritime zones. Despite this, some emerging and existing (at the time) integrated policies, such as the EU Green Paper on Maritime Policy and the European Strategy for Sustainable Development do consider this approach.

The assessment model developed under the DEDUCE project contained five main actions:

  1. Calculation of indicators for a sustainable development of the coast. This consisted of defining and agreeing on the suitable methodologies and carrying out the calculation of the indicators of all the decision levels (European, national, regional and local), with the objective of identifying gaps in the information and the use and compatibility of the indicators.
  2. Strengths and weaknesses of an integrated information system based on a GIS. This consists of analysing the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) as tools for storage, presentation and analysis of the coastal data and analysing the use of the website as a tool for disseminating data (SIGWEB) and the joint work between partners.
  3. Report on the state of the sustainability of the coast. Assessment of common models for drawing up reports on the state of the coast at European, national, regional and local levels, which assess the changes and the effects of human activity on the coast.
  4. Guides on the use of the indicators for decision making. Drawing up guidelines for the use of European, national, regional and local governments on the indicators of sustainability in carrying out decision making on the coast, through examples.
  5. To study the possibilities of creating a European regional coastal observatory

Aspects / Objectives

The main objective of the assessment model was to improve the tools and the information systems necessary for optimal decision making about the coast, at all levels: European, national, regional and local.

The specific objectives were:


  1. To calculate and compare the 28 indicators of sustainable development agreed.
  2. To evaluate and compare the geographical information systems (GIS) for the analysis and viewing of the state of the environment of each of the coastal areas and the methodologies based on the use of the GIS through the website (GIS-WEB).
  3. To establish common model for reporting on the state of sustainability of the coast, in which the effects of human activities and their impacts are evaluated and monitored.
  4. To draw up a guide for the use of the indicators of sustainability for examining the development of the state of the coast.
  5. To study the possibility of setting a European regional information observatory.


This tool was aimed at validating essential methodological tools that foster the strategies of integrated coastal zone management following the principles and criteria established in the Recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council, concerning the implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (May 2002).

The main decision-making tools which were used for experimenting data-management were:

  • Indicators for the integrated management of coastal zones
  • Geographical information systems of the coast
  • Reports on the state of sustainability of the coast
  • Networking the information on the coast

Main Outputs / Results

The main output is the elaboration of the assessment model, which presents a methodological framework for indicators of sustainable development for coastal and maritime zones. This model is structured into three main components corresponding to the following three main questions:

  1. How can we calculate indicators according to a common methodology?
    45 measurements have a standard format that is suitable for all EU regions and countries
  2. What are the main problems and obstacles for the calculation process?
    180 reports on different scales describe the difficulties, strengths and weaknesses in obtaining and handling data for a particular measurement,
  3. How can we start integrating results and conclusions and what is the outcome of the calculation process?
    25 fact sheets demonstrate the benefits of a comparative analysis between and across different geographical levels.


The intensive and growing use of natural coastal resources has a negative effect on the quality of the waters, the availability of water resources, the stability of the beaches, the marine and coastal ecology, the landscapes and the atmosphere, very frequently meaning that these zones are found in a at risk condition. This intensive use can lead to a devaluation of the natural capital of these zones and the resulting negative social and economic effects.

Within this context, at the time, the European Parliament and the Council, approved the Recommendation concerning the implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management with the aim of encouraging all coastal Member States and Candidate Countries to draw up in 2006 coastal strategies based on integrated management principles intended to guide European coastal zones towards more sustainable scenarios.

Within this framework, an Interreg IIIC – South DEDUCE project was initiated, which was aimed at validating essential methodological tools that foster the strategies of integrated coastal zone management in all European coastal areas, meaning with this that the project and the assessment model were both conceived with a clear transferability and capitalisation purposes.

Contact Person

Mr. Xavier Martí (Department of the Environment and Housing, Government of Catalonia)

Responsible Entity

The project was lead by the Department of the Environment and Housing, Government of Catalonia, Spain. 

Costs / Funding Source

Costs:  1.7 million euro

Funding Source: INTERREG IIIC