International approaches to sustainable coastal management and climate change



Publication Details

R. Ambrose. Kenchington, B. Pokrant & J. Glasson, 'International approaches to sustainable coastal management and climate change' in R. Ambrose. Kenchington, L. Stocker & D. Wood(ed), Sustainable Coastal Management and Climate Adaptation: Global Lessons from Regional Approaches in Australia (2012) 57-73.


Traditionally, the management of marine areas under coastal state jurisdiction has been based on management of territorial seas by what is described as 'sectoral planning'. This approach is characterised by fragmentation oflegal and administrative responsibilities and actions between jurisdictions and spheres of government, and within and between agencies.

Until the mid twentieth century the internationally accepted marine jurisdiction of nations was the Territorial Sea extending three nautical miles from low water around their coasts and islands. This provided the basis for regulation of the most heavily used and affected coastal waters. Consequently the tactical issues of management of the land-sea interface are largely matters of national jurisdiction. The expected effects of climate change and rising sea levels, particularly for low-lying island states, have become a matter of international concern, and resulted in international and bilateral programs to assist nations whose existence is threatened by projected sea-level rise.

By the mid twentieth century, before the implications of climate change and expected sealevel rise were widely appreciated, new technologies were confronting the limitations of the three nautical mile territorial sea. The United Nations established a process to address the issues arising from the capacity, potential benefits and impacts of new uses of marine space and resources. This led to a protracted series of negotiations that started in 1958 and resulted, in 1994, in the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC).

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