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Much effort has been expended in attempts to implement ICZM in Europe during and since the EU Demonstration Program (1996-1999) and the subsequent EuropeanParliament and Council Recommendation (2002). The vast majority of these initiatives have involved non-statutory approaches in which stakeholders agree voluntarily to try to resolve conflicts by working in partnership. Such an approach has much to commend it. There is involvement of all stakeholders, there is exchange of views, enabling different perspectives to be appreciated and stakeholders have the opportunity to air their views. In theory this should then lead to win-win situations in which, through compromise, a consensus view is reached in which all stakeholders are happy, the environment is not damaged and the principles of sustainability are embraced. Experience in voluntary, participatory ICZM to date, however, has not achieved this promise for several reasons. Chief among these is the false assumption that everyone involved is concerned for the common good rather than self-interest. In situations where the law favors particular sectors or activities, it is unlikely that those participating (to their own benefit) in such activities will readily agree to giving up rights simply to please others. This is particularly true in the case of those with major economic interests in, for example, coastal development. There are abundant examples of cases where developers, faced with opposition, push the law to its limits and even beyond. In such instances, no concession is given unless the law demands it. As a consequence, the voluntary model of ICZM has to be content with addressing relatively minor issues. Stemming from this shortcoming is the inability of voluntary approaches to censure unpopular or undesirable activities. This problem lies in the lack of power of such approaches. A further major problem area lies in the typically local spatial scale of voluntary approaches. In such scenarios, the necessary strategic (long term and large spatial scale) perspectives are lost and recommendations have an essentially local focus that may not be in the national interest. The legitimacy of voluntary ICZM groups is also questionable. The rules of engagement are not well defined and the opinions of minority groups versus those of larger, but less vociferous groups are difficult to reconcile in an equitable way.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversité de Lille
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jan 2008


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