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Public Participation Framework

The coastal zone has many different users. Local inhabitants, tourists, fishermen and industry are just a few examples of those involved in the use of the coastal zone and its resources.

It seems reasonable that the actual users, or the public, are somehow involved in the management related to the coastal zone. Where governmental bodies develop the policy for the (re-) distribution of coastal resources, support from society should make it possible to carry out this policy.

Public participation aims to provide a framework for involving the actual users, or the public, in the decision making process concerning the coastal zone in order to get mutual approval and responsibility on the economical, social and environmental development of the coastal society.

Successful public participation in coastal zone decision making should therefore lead to a transparent distribution of coastal resources resulting in a sustainable use of the coastal zone.


From this it may become clear that public participation is a continuous process of interaction between the institution (organisation) responsible for decision-making and the public, whose interests are affected by the consequences of the planned decision.

Such interaction should include, as a minimum:

  • measures promoting the full understanding by the public of the procedure of decision-making used by an authority and mechanisms for studying the environmental and social problems produced;
  • awareness of the public about the status and implementation stage of an activity (a project, plan or programme, policy development or their examination and assessment), also about the possibilities for getting the information, commenting on it and other kinds of participation;
  • collection of the concerned citizens' opinions, their attitude to the project objectives and tasks, as well as the preferred options for using available resources; alternative development strategies and getting any other information related to the taken decision.
    (revised after: Canter 1996)

The way that the general public and interested stakeholders are being involved in ICZM implementation includes aspects such as:
sharing of information; transparent communication, consensus-building under stakeholders and the general public, and informed decisionmaking.

A view from Varna beaches, Black Sea

Northern coast of the Gulf of Finland westwards Vyborg, the Baltic Sea ( BFN )


Islets in the vicinity of Kurgalsky Peninsula, Eastern Baltic Sea ( BFN)


Definition of public participation brings up several important aspects:
a) creating mutual connections between policy makers and the public
b) ceding coastal zone decision making processes to the public
c) creating a structure where the public will have a possibility to join the decision making processes
d) creating a framework where decision makers and public will be responsible for their own parts of coastal zone policy