The definition of the policy problem can be defined as a detailed and operational description of the difference between the existing situation and the desired situation. This description should be made as concrete and detailed as possible, as to allow for a good referencing. When a quantitative description is not (fully) possible, the differences should be expressed qualitatively.
The most favourable approach is to describe the zero-situation and the desired situation separately.
The zero-situation is the current situation in the coastal zone plus its development when no further policies/projects are implemented. For the description of the zero-situation, two subsequent activities need to be carried out:
The desired and zero situation should as much as possible be described in coherence, as to allow for a sound comparison. Therefore it is required that the often vague and abstract formulated wishes are translated into concrete terms. For instance, the wish 'healthy coastal ecosystem' could be specified in number of different species, concentration of pollutants and the turbidity of the water.