SECOA European Commission

Global change, human mobility and urban growth, can be considered as the relevant elements affecting the management and development of coastal areas the world over. The increasing number of persons, houses and enterprises in urban coastal areas determines the pressure on the coastal environment, and its natural and cultural resources. There is a permanent increase in water and soil consumption; a generation of water, air and soil pollution; a waste creation; and there is increased urban carrying capacity demand. There is a competition that generates contrasts in the use of natural resources from all the stakeholders involved in the urban context, i.e. residents, commuters, tourists, and enterprises. The ever changing coastal natural environments affected by climate change are further complicating the situation, often in the direction of negative consequences. The problem is how to manage those contrasts through sustainable urban planning, consisting of environmental protection, economic development, and social cohesion.



SECOA will consider the effects of human mobility on urban settlements’ growth and restructuring in fragile environments, such as coastal areas. Whatever happens at the settlement level has consequences on natural and cultural resources. In coastal settlements every phenomenon is more concentrated and effects are more acute. The problems are also multiplied since climate change is affecting the environmental parameters. The need for controlling and reducing unwanted consequences is contributing to the creation of contrasts among stakeholders belonging to different economic sectors and social spheres. An integrated ecosystem approach incorporating social, economic and natural disciplines is essential in understanding and dealing with the complex and dynamic problems facing the coastal city environments. SECOA aims to: identify the ongoing and possible contrasts, analyze their quantitative and qualitative effects on the environment, create models to synthesize the complexity of the different social, economic and environmental systems.


SECOA will investigate eight metropolitan areas of international/global importance and eight metropolitan areas of regional/national importance in European and Asian countries (United Kingdom, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Israel, India and Vietnam). SECOA will involve end users from most of the areas considered. The composition of the national teams has been finalized in order to guarantee a multidisciplinary approach to the case studies. Four areas of interest will be taken into account: economic factors, social features, natural and cultural resources, spatial organization, characterizing the analyzed coastal areas. An innovative methodology for analysis will be developed, tools for appropriate policies will be created, alternative scenarios will be built, step-by-step results will be disseminated and exploited for specific users’ needs.


SECOA is expected to contribute to an advancement of knowledge in terms of institutional development, conflict mitigation, more effective and fair distribution of scarce resources. Short term advances can be expected with regard to creating consensus and trust and establishing policy and management approaches for cooperation with stakeholders. Long term advances can be expected with regard to solution of contrasts, gradual reduction of conflicts and benefits for the environment. SECOA will contribute to the design of new measures, plans and programs for ICZM. The general effect of their implementation will be to develop stepwise a long-term process of sustainable resource management that can be continually improved and redirected by new scientific knowledge and practical experience of the relevant actors. This “openness” of the approach and possibility of continual improvement seems essential for the success of resource management policies. It cannot be expected that sustainable development can be done with “once and forever” knowledge. Major impacts in the long run are the reduction of environmental conflicts and improved resource use practices.

Project n°: 244251 FP7-ENV.2009.