Stakeholder involvement for management of the coastal zone
The European Union (EU) has taken the lead to promote the management of coastal systems. Management strategies are implemented by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), as well as the recent Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Directive. Most EU directives have a strong focus on public participation; however, a recent review found that the actual involvement of stakeholders was variable. The “Architecture and roadmap to manage multiple pressures on lagoons” (ARCH) research project has developed and implemented participative methodologies at different case study sites throughout Europe. These cases represent a broad range of coastal systems, and they highlight different legislative frameworks that are relevant for coastal zone management. Stakeholder participation processes were subsequently evaluated at 3 case study sites in order to assess the actual implementation of participation in the context of their respective legislative frameworks: 1) Byfjorden in Bergen, Norway, in the context of the WFD; 2) Amvrakikos Gulf, Greece, in the context of the MSFD; and 3) Nordre Älv Estuary, Sweden, in the context of the MSP Directive. An overall assessment of the evaluation criteria indicates that the ARCH workshop series methodology of focusing first on the current status of the lagoon or estuary, then on future challenges, and finally on identifying management solutions provided a platform that was conducive for stakeholder participation. Results suggest that key criteria for a good participatory process were present and above average at the 3 case study sites. The results also indicate that the active engagement that was initiated at the 3 case study sites has led to capacity building among the participants, which is an important intermediary outcome of public participation. A strong connection between participatory processes and policy can ensure the legacy of the intermediary outcomes, which is an important and necessary start toward more permanent resource management outcomes such as ecological and economic improvement.