DeCyDe for Sustainability Policy tool

Sustain project


The DeCyDe for Sustainability tool is a spreadsheet based set of indicators and decision support tool that allows coastal communities and Authorities to self-assess their progress towards sustainability goals. The tool examines strategic targets within existing policy, applying sustainability indicators and applying the decision support tool. Indocators are based on the themes of Governence, Economics, Environmental Quality and Social Well-being

July 2012
Application in MSP: 
Applied in an MSP process
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Economic aspects
Environment aspects
Social aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 

Questions this practice may help answer

How can policy makers assess the sustainability of coastal policy?

Implementation Context

The Sustain Project aimed at developing a tool that can ensure that integrated management of Europe’s coastal areas will be more sustainable in the long term. It can contribute to delivery of Europe’s renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy which was adopted by the European Council in June 2006 and aimed at bringing about a high level of environmental protection, social equity and cohesion, economic prosperity and active promotion of sustainable development worldwide.

Aspects / Objectives

Create a fully implementable policy tool to help coastal authorities and communities throughout Europe to deliver sustainability on Europe’s coast.


DeCyDe-for-Sustainability is a user-friendly, spreadsheet-based, self-assessment, decision-support tool which gives a numerical value to individual indicators. It comprises three separate components: setting strategic targets from within existing policy; applying a sustainability indicator set; and applying the decision support tool. Thereafter, the strategic targets can be re-visited and the process repeated every few years.

The following steps need to be taken to fill in the tool:

  1. Policy-makers must first agree their strategic goals and targets in order to determine if they are being reached and, if not, adjust them accordingly or make additional efforts.
  2. The second step is to find the data for groups of indicators. SUSTAIN offers two sets of Indicators differing from the more traditional approach of applying a fixed, standard indicator set. More info can be found in the link. These are:
    1. CORE indicators which should be used at all times where relevant data is available. They are considered to cover essential aspects of coastal sustainability.
    2. OPTIONAL indicators which reflect local/regional specificities and which can be implemented and adjusted according to the local/regional circumstances.
  3. Once the data has been collected – and this is the most time-consuming aspect of the work – it can be entered into the DeCyDe-for-Sustainability scoresheet.
  4. Decision makers can predict how the existing situation can be changed if, for example, they want to change the score of one or more Issues.
  5. Alternatively, they can forecast what will happen if they change the importance among the four main pillars e.g. putting more resources into Economics and less into Environmental Quality through a change in their policy. Through this exercise, the decision makers can evaluate and assess a large range of ideas and actions within different policy options.
  6. The first time the exercise is completed, the number can be regarded as a reference value against which all future exercises can be compared, provided the same indicators are used each time. It can be seen that if the exercise is repeated in the future, a comparison can be made between the two applications to determine if progress is being made towards a more sustainable future.

Main Outputs / Results

Partners of the Sustain project have measured their sustainability efforts applying the DeCyDe-for-Sustainability tool in a specific area. A summary of the specific case studies can be found in the report.


The practice can be applied for in all coastal areas.

Funding Source

Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC. Direct costs of this practice elaboration are unknown. 

Responsible Entity

Alan Pickaver

Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC)