The role of international cooperation and coordination on a bilateral basis and, where applicable, within a subregional, interregional, regional or global framework, is to support and supplement national efforts of coastal states to promote integrated management and sustainable development of coastal and marine areas.
Specific environmental threats to coastal zones relate to sea level rise, changes in hydrological cycles of major rivers, pollution including contamination through waste dumping, loss of habitats and erosion. The main challenge for the future consists in developing and implementing regional seas programmes. An integrated approach to monitoring and managing marine areas and coastal zones could help to overcome the difficulties which arise from the different uses of seas and coastal zones. It would also bring together national and local bodies with legislative and regulatory responsibilities for specific tasks in marine and coastal zone management. The main target should be to identify specific goals for sustainability in strategic planning and to design instruments for achieving these goals.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
Coastal management acquires a special priority for Europe as it experiences significant pressures for development. Europe has a coastline of 143,000 km with a great number of islands known for their particular and sensitive environment. The Environmental Programme for Europe recommends: (1) improving international cooperation, including cooperation between joint bodies established by the respective coastal States, on the collection and assessment of information on the quality of Europe's seas in order to establish a pan-European marine water quality database and unified reporting schemes; (2) designing criteria for determining priorities for action, taking into account environmental aspects and the economic value of marine areas and coastal zones, including the terrestrial parts of coastal zones; (3) introducing measures and institutional arrangements promoting the integration of environmental, social and economic concerns in coastal management and improve the collection of data and their use for the assessment of the quality of coastal zones; (4) strengthening measures to protect the marine environment, in particular by reducing discharges to the seas from land-based sources, taking into account the entire hydrological network of the European continent and its coastal waters; and (5) strengthening existing international cooperation to improve the environmental quality of coastal zones, in particular coastal zones of high ecological value, and review and revise existing policies and programmes in terms of their impact on coastal resources.