Coastal information system Oder estuary

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ICZM-Oder: Background

Regional problems in the Oder estuary region

The Oder estuary is located at the border between Germany and Poland and is characterized by a high nature potential with multiple forms of landscape and formative large coastal waters. The whole region is suffering from massive economic problems and high gradients between east and west as well as between coast and hinterland. At present the increasing tourism development is the major hope for the future. For this reason tourism development on one hand and nature preservation on the other hand are most important regional issues, but are, at the same time, in conflict with numerous other utilizations as well as social and economic activities. Remarkable is the increasing cross-border tourism and traffic between Germany and Poland. Through Poland’s entry in the EC, it is expected that these activities will grow even further. Because of Poland’s membership it will become essential to intensify the German-Polish cooperation and to agree on all planning and management activities as well as to exchange know how and experiences.

When aiming at a sustainable development of the region, tourism and environmental quality can only be regarded in the context of all other regional activities and utilizations. A regional integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) is therefore imperative and has to link the German and Polish coastal region. It is necessary to agree on methods and structures between these two countries.

The coastal waters are highly polluted by the river Oder (in Polish: Odra). The Oder has a 120.000 km² large catchment area, from which 90 % are on the Polish territory. Heavy eutrophication and water quality problems are a consequence of the continuous inputs of nutrients and contaminants. They both are a problem for the tourism development as well as nature conservation im Germany and Poland. The Oder river is a major driving force, especially for the coastal waters. The necessity to link the catchment area with the coast is obvious. In this region river catchment management is at the same time coastal water management. Coastal waters have been neglected in regional planning and ICZM up to date. The systematic integration of the inshore and coastal waters into the planning process plays a vital role in this region, as they are central elements of the landscape. The scientific background is well documented by numerous projects and several tools have been developed to enable coastal zone management.

What is integrated coastal zone management (ICZM)?

According to the definition of the European Commission the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) is a dynamic, multi-disciplinary and iterative process to promote sustainable management of coastal zones. ICZM seeks to balance between the advantages of

All this should happen within the limits set by natural dynamics and load capacity. ICZM covers the full cycle of information collection, planning (in its broadest sense), decision making, management and monitoring of implementation. Thus ICZM is not only restricted to management.

The term “integrated” refers to the simultaneous integration

Simplistically it means the simultaneous integration in time and space as well as in horizontal and vertical direction.

These definitions make clear, that ICZM aims for the sustainable development of the coastal zones. Therefore, this objective is identical with the objectives of the Agenda 21. ICZM can be regarded as a Agenda 21-implementation strategy for the coastal region.

Agenda 21 and Integrated Coastal Zone Management

The Integrated coastal Zone Management (ICZM) is closely connected with the Agenda 21 process for sustainable development.

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the year 1992. The resulting “Agenda 21” or “Rio Declaration on sustainable development” was signed by 178 nations. Among other topics the integrated management and the sustainable development of coasts and seas are explicitly mentioned.

As a result, different regional initiatives like the “Baltic 21” (the Agenda 21 for the Baltic region) were established. On the Seventh Ministerial meeting of the Council of Baltic States (CBSS) in Nyborg, Denmark the Baltic 21 was signed. Its main focus is on regional cooperation, environmental aspects and their influence on the economic and social sustainable development. Within the spatial planning section the following aspects are mentioned:

Another regional Agenda 21 is the “Agenda 21 - Oder Lagoon - Region of two nations” for the German-Polish Oder estuary region. It is based on a co-operation agreement between the Ministry of Environment of the State Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Vojevodship Western Pomerania, dated September 2002. It comprises 10 fields of action, among them:

Both regional Agendas 21 clearly underline that Integrated Coastal Zone Management is part of the Agenda 21 process. On a regional basis in coastal areas ICZM and the Agenda 21 become largely synonymous. On a smaller, local level some discrepancies between ICZM and Agenda 21 occur. However, regional Agenda 21–processes and structures can be successfully used for ICZM. The “Regional Agenda 21 – Oder Lagoon – Region of two nations” forms an excellent basis for regional ICZM activities in the Oder estuary. Against this background, the research project “ICZM-Oder” was chosen as a national project for ICZM and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Germany (BMBF).

Activities of the European Commission in the field of Integrated Coastal Zone Management

Coastal zones are characterized by a high population density, an extraordinary ecological importance and a high economical value. Thus, there are intensive and multiple uses and various actual and potential conflicts. At the same time, the coastal zone shows a great dynamic and a further intensification of the activities in the future is predicted, especially in the Baltic Sea. Furthermore coastal zones are severely threatened by global climatic changes and a subsequent increase of sea levels.

Thus, problems are focused in coastal zones. At the same time, severe short-comings with respect to a sustainable management of the coasts is observed all over Europe. This is often caused e.g. by the lack of information, coordination and participation. This applies for Germany, too and several aspects are criticized, e.g.:

Due to these problems, the European Commission published a first reflection paper in 1999 ”Towards a European Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Strategy: General Principles and Policy Options”. In May 2002, concrete recommendations of the European Parliament and the European Council concerning the implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe (2002/413/EG) followed. In 2006, which is 45 months after the acceptance of this recommendation, the member states have to report to the European Commission about the implementation experiences. With these initiatives the European Commission took a lead in role in European ICZM.

The evaluation of 35 demonstration programs for coastal zone management in Europe (1999) revealed two important und partly unexpected aspects: The importance of science in ICZM and the necessity of regional approaches. For the European Commission the task of science in ICZM is not only to carry out applied research, to develop management-tools and models or to give advice and support, but scientists are also asked to initiate ICZM and coordination of activities. However, ICZM itself is not a science, but science plays an important and permanent role in the ICZM process.

Only a regional approach allows the realization of an efficient ICZM, because structures and spatial scales are appropriate and have the potential to coordinate and solve conflicts. The experiences of regional approaches are usually specific enough to be transfered to other coastal zones and to allow the deduction of realistic, overriding strategies. This is the background why the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Germany (BMBF) funded two regional research projects on sustainable coastal management in Germany.

Tender for ICZM

With effect from May 2004 the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Germany (BMBF) supports two national case studies (research projects) on Integrated Coastal Zone Management: “ICZM-Oder” and “Coastal Futures”. Coastal Futures which is located at the wadden sea of Schleswig-Holstein.

Following, the background for this tender after the funding guidelines of July 2002:
Worldwide the coasts are exposed to constantly rising human requirements for use. The danger exists, that the coasts not only lose their natural value but also their ecological and socio-economic function. Therefore, future-precaution principle requires a development and application ofconcepts, which ensure a sustainable development of the coastal areas. A system-approach that meets this requirement is Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). ICZM is increasingly applied on an international scale.

The ICZM pursues political, economic, social and ecological interests on the basis of the sustainability-principle. One of the goals is to support a sustainable coastal development supported by consensus and at least to minimize and/or avoid conflicts of interests between the multiple requirements for use.

In Germany, Coastal Zone Management on the national and federal state level is predominantly spread into sectoral competences. The development and implementation of integrative coastal management concepts will require supporting scientific work. This is the background for the BMBF-funding within the framework of the German program “Marine research”. Aim of this tender is to fund science in support of ICZM, and to tackle scientific questions which arise from the specific situation in Germany. The projects are based on already existing extensive knowledge of the different coastal research disciplines. The project results should be suitable for the development of a national ICZM-strategy as recommended by the European Parliament and Council (Document 2002/413/EC).

Project basics

The overriding documents for the project are:

In addition, the project is based on concrete regional pre-activities and documents, stipulating the status quo, the requirements and the demand. Based on this and additional discussions with ministries and regional authorities, the objectives and concrete tasks of the project were defined.

Regional activities shall benefit from the project results of the project and shall. The results shall support the national ICZM strategy and provide a concrete German contribution to international ICZM. For this reason the recommendations and guidelines of several organizations are taken into account, such as:


The projekt ICZM-Oder/Odra is supported during three phases by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as well as by further organisations. For details please follow this Link.