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Bedall, P., Biener, F.. Partizipation im Integrierten Küstenzonenmanagement am Beispiel des Solent Forum in GroÃbritannien. In: Schernewski, G., Glaeser, B., Scheibe, R., Sekścińska, A., Thamm, R. (eds.). Coastal Development: The Oder estuary and beyond. Coastline Reports (8), pp. 297-307. EUCC - The Coastal Union, Leiden, 2007.


Participation in Integrated Coastal Zone Management – the case of the Solent Forum (GB)

It is not only from a historical point of view that coastal zones have a specific significance for human societies. Coastal zones and their natural resources (marine as well as terrestrial) play a strategic role in satisfying the needs and ambitions of present and future European populations. As a resource and an area for development the sea is of increasing importance – especially in the offshore area dramatic changes can be expected. This increasing anthropogenic pressure of utilisation meets with the existing natural dynamics characteristic of coastal zones. So it seems  necessary – if a sustainable coastal zone is to be achieved – in regional planning to take into account these dynamics and to understand coastal zones as a continuum and not to make a dichotomic division between land and sea. In this context the present article focusses on the participatory claim of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management approach (ICZM) which has the overall concept of sustainable development as its normative basis and is laid down in a number of fundamental documents referring to coastal zone management. We can speak of a sustainable development of the coastal zone if society as a whole encourages and supports this development. So the claim of ICZM to integrate the interests of different stakeholders will be taken into account. Participation aims at a reduction of existing or future conflicts: confrontation is to be counteracted by cooperative forms of participation. So the participatory approach of ICZM can be seen as a means of conflict management. Conflict areas that can be handled along the lines of ICZM are the utilisation of the coastal zone as well as subjective and psychological factors in the communication between different stakeholders. The main difficulties of participatory planning seem to have their origin in the integrated character of ICZM, i.e. the inclusion of different groups with their varying ways of thinking, languages and points of view. All these can lead to communication problems, to difficulties in the description of the issue and the selection and application of methods, to prejudices and group-dynamic problems which may complicate a consensus-orientated planning. So decision-making is one of the basic difficulties of participatory planning. As a case study of the concrete realisation of the participation claim - also at the stage of decisionmaking – the present article analyzes the ‘Solent Forum’, one of Great Britain’s first coastal zone management initiatives located in Southern England. To focus on Great Britain seems to make sense as in that country so-called “coastal partnerships“ have been established for some time in the planning of coastal zones and so by way of comparison can stimulate the national discussion and strategy implementation. In particular we want to find out how the Solent Forum complies with the idea of stakeholder participation, i.e. if it meets with the claim implicit in ICZM. While doing so we will only deal with the internal structure of the Forum, leaving aside its role in the local or regional administrative structure. In order to assess the existing participatory processes we will draw upon a “progression of engagement“ where the first steps refer to the level of awareness, while those in the middle refer to the level of consultation. The last steps describe the active participation and integration into processes of decision-making. Our analyzes can be summed up as follows: The 'Solent Forum', as a broadly based advisory Forum aims at enhancing the communication and integration of the different stakeholders in order to give a voice to the Solent Region. The Forum wishes to actively support authorities and politicians by contributing to policies, programs and strategies. Although the equality of the Forum members is made an explicit goal, one of our results is that the practice of the forum is not achieving it. On the one hand, an unequal distribution of power already results from the fact that a membership in the steering-group implies costs, which privileges financially strong institutions. So it does not come up to the claim implicit in ICZM for an involvement of all those concerned in processes of coastal management. On the other hand, the role of the members beyond the steering-group  concentrates on a kind of informed or rather consultative participation. The structure and organisation of the Forum prevents an active participation, which means an involvement in  decision-making. But only an equal participation of all stakeholders can create socially robust decisions, which are core elements of a sustainable way of management.

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