A systematic review of socio-economic assessments in support of coastal zone management (1992–2011)
Cooperation between the social and natural sciences has become essential in order to encompass all the dimensions of coastal zone management. Socio-economic approaches are increasingly recommended to complement integrated assessment in support of these initiatives. A systematic review of the academic literature was carried out in order to analyze the main types of socio-economic assessments used to inform the coastal zone management process as well as their effectiveness. A corpus of 1682 articles published between 1992 and 2011 was identified by means of the representative coverage approach, from which 170 were selected by applying inclusion/exclusion criteria and then classified using a content analysis methodology. The percentage of articles that mention the use of socio-economic assessment in support of coastal zone management initiatives is increasing but remains relatively low. The review examines the links between the issues addressed by integrated assessments and the chosen analytical frameworks as well as the various economic assessment methods which are used in the successive steps of the coastal zone management process. The results show that i) analytical frameworks such as ‘risk and vulnerability’, ‘DPSIR’, ‘valuation’, ‘ecosystem services’ and ‘preferences’ are likely to lead to effective integration of social sciences in coastal zone management research while ‘integration’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘participation’ remain difficult to operationalize, ii) risk assessments are insufficiently implemented in developing countries, and iii) indicator systems in support of multi-criteria analyses could be used during more stages of the coastal zone management process. Finally, it is suggested that improved collaboration between science and management would require that scientists currently involved in coastal zone management processes further educate themselves in integrated assessment approaches and participatory methodologies.