Integrated coastal zone management in Germany

National ICZM Strategy

The Federal Cabinet adopted the National Strategy for Integrated Coastal Zone Management in German (ICZM) in Germany on 22 March 2006 upon recommendation of the Federal Minister for Environment. In a parallel report to the European Commission , the Federal Government therewith acted upon the recommendation of the EU, Recommendation 2002/413/EC (of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2002 concerning the implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe).

As both a process and an instrument, ICZM seeks to balance the various economic and social claims to the use of coastal areas (fishing, shipping, port operation, industry and commerce, land-based transport infrastructure, agriculture and forestry, wind energy, settlement development, tourism, etc.) with the objectives of coastal zone protection (avoiding pollution, efficient use of the resource land, nature conservation, flood protection in German ). It brings these interests together and develops plans, detects potential for conflict and offers solutions to resolving conflicts at an early stage. In view of the increasing demands on land, the coastal zone at sea and on land must be developed in both an environmentally and economically sustainable way. The delimitations to this objective are determined by the capacity and resilience of the coastal environment.

At the core of ICZM philosophy is the dialogue between public and private sector stakeholders in local governments, regions, at federal government level, and with neighbouring states as necessary.

The Federal Environment Agency commissioned BioConsult Schuchardt & Scholle GbR in Bremen to draft a strategy for ICZM. The final version of the strategy was worked out in close collaboration with the competent authorities at Federal and Länder level responsible for environment, spatial planning, transport, agriculture, fishing, business and finance and the relevant local authorities, business and environmental associations.

A task force for a national ICZM strategy was put together, which convened on 26 April and on 25 August 2005 in Berlin. The task force ensured that prior experience with problem-solving and existing initiatives to develop the coastal region were taken into account in the national strategy.

The Federal Ministry for Environment, through the support of the Federal Environment Agency and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, presented the national ICZM strategy to the public at a conference in Bremen on 27-28 April 2006. The ICZM Strategy was acknowledged as an important step in the further development of coastal zones in Germany. The current task at hand is to follow through with the general recommendations made in the Strategy, to engage in dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders in the respective areas of activity and to implement measures. The Federal Environment Agency is involved in this process through pilot projects, by providing technical assistance and information, an in committee work.

The website Integriertes Küstenzonenmanagement (ICZM) in Deutschland in German sponsored by the Federal Environment Agency provides detailed information about ICZM initiatives in Germany and at EU level.

Spatial planning in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and in coastal waters

Federal Government

The North and Baltic Seas currently face the challenge of balancing economic use and protection of nature and the environment. Because of new uses, e.g. the planned installation of off-shore wind energy farms, the seas have become an area of development whose direction must be future-oriented and sustainable.

The amendment of the Federal Regional Planning Act in German ( ROG ) of 2004 extended the scope of spatial planning according to the guidelines of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to include the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and allocated planning powers for the EEZ in the North and Baltic Seas (beyond the 12-nautical mile zone (territorial waters) outward to up to 200 nautical miles) to the Federal Government. This was the first time the Federal Government was assigned a concrete task in overall spatial planning. Section 17, Para 3 in German of the amended ROG of 2008 stipulates that spatial plans must identify provisions concerning

  • economic and scientific uses,
  • security and ease of shipping traffic, and
  • protection of the marine environment.

Certain areas may be allocated for these uses and functions – as is done for spatial planning on land.

In light of the multitude of uses and the expected increase in demands placed on the German EEZ (e.g. shipping traffic, raw materials extraction, pipelines and submarine cables, wind energy farms, fishing, environmental protection and conservation) the goal is to alleviate conflicts and competing interests and to develop solutions for the sustainable use and for the protection of the maritime environment.

Spatial planning for the EEZ is carried out by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) in cooperation with corresponding federal agencies. The German Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), in the remit of BMVBS,  is responsible for preliminary work in the process. Section 9 Federal Regional Planning Act in German (ROG) requires that an environmental impact assessment be carried out.


A resolution adopted as early as 2001 by the Minister Conference for Spatial Planning in German (MKRO) required Germany’s coastal Länder to extend the scope of their regional development plans to include Germany’s territorial waters (12-nautical mile zone) and to adapt the objectives and principles of spatial planning accordingly and thus take into account the special circumstances at sea. This resolution established an important foundation for coordinating planning of sea and coastal areas that takes account of land space availability and competing use interests.

Initiatives and activities of the Federal Government and Länder

Federal Government

The decree issued on 22.09.2009 by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) on spatial planning in the German EEZ in the North Sea (Federal Gazette I, p. 3107) entered into force on 26.09.2009. The BMVBS decree of 10.12.2009 on spatial planning in the German EEZ in the Baltic Sea (Federal Gazette I, p. 3861) entered into force on 19.12.2009. Go to the website of the German Maritime and Hydrographic Agency in German (BSH) to read the decrees, the corresponding regional plans and justifications, and environmental report (in German).

Spatial planning schemes for the EEZ in the North and Baltic Seas contain guidelines for the spatial development of the EEZ and stipulations for the following uses and functions: shipping, raw materials extraction, pipelines and submarine cables, scientific marine research, energy production (especially wind energy), fishing and mariculture, and protection of the marine environment. A strategic environmental assessment served as the basis of an environmental report which reported and evaluated the predicted considerable impact of the plan on the marine environment. One of the key challenges of spatial planning in the EEZ was to determine priority areas for offshore wind energy while taking account of the special conditions of the marine environment and nature reserves.

The participatory process of spatial planning allowed local authorities and associations, including the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), to state their positions on plans for the German EEZ.

UBA commissioned the drafting of a criteria catalogue of environmental requirements for spatial planning in the EEZ to support the environmental sector in its work in the planning process.

The Federal Government energy scheme of September 2010 makes provisions for spatial planning in the German EEZ to be designed so as to secure the long-term development of offshore wind farms. An update to the scheme will be based on an evaluation report due for publication in 2012.

In addition to the spatial planning work in the EEZ, the federal government, Länder , local governments and other organisations have launched a variety of measures to implement the national ICZM strategy adopted in March 2006. Key lines of action include:

  • Optimisation of legislation and strategies geared towards sustainability

  • implementation of best-practice projects and

  • improvement of dialogue and coordination processes.

New regulations in nature conservation law of 2009 should be mentioned in this context as they extend the scope of the law to include the exclusive economic zone. The prospects for coastal development and management are also laid out in current Federal Government strategies such as the National Strategy on Biodiversity (2007), the National Marine Strategy (2008) and the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (2008). Legislation, programmes and spatial and regional planning proposals have also been expanded at Land level in recent years to include aspects of coastal zone management.

In addition, Germany has registered more than 30 practice-based ICZM case studies for listing in the database of the EU project OURCOAST. These include initiatives of the Federal Environment Agency such as the pilot project ‘ Küsten-Kontor ’ (contact point for coordination of efforts and to improve knowledge exchange) which ended in 2010.

The interdisciplinary and supraregional ICZM Advisory Council established in 2008 deserves special mention. The Council is made up of members from relevant federal government departments, the five Länder on Germany’s coasts, and the three central municipal associations. The ‘ Lust op dat Meer ’ contest sponsored by the Land Schleswig-Holstein with funding and technical support from the BMU and UBA in 2010 and 2011 is also of note.

The Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) submitted the national report on the implementation of integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) in Germany in March 2011. The study, drafted with the technical support of UBA, provides an account of the progress made in the 2006-2010 period. The ICZM reports of individual coastal Member States provide an important foundation on which the EU Commission can base options for the further development of ICZM in Europe (Follow-up to Recommendation 2002/413/EC).


Priority in spatial planning for Germany’s coastal areas is given to including the coastal zone (12-nautical mile zone) into plans ( Länder planning in German ) and to introducing cross-sectoral coastal zone management (ICZM) .

Back in 2006, Lower Saxony amended its spatial planning programme to regulate offshore wind energy use in territorial waters and to integrate the wind parks planned in the EEZ into the power grid. The programme takes into consideration the competing interests of nature conservation, tourism, shipping, and fishing. Lower Saxony also established a non-binding statement of planning principles for key stakeholders in 2005 ( Spatial Planning Concept for Lower Saxony’s coastal area (ROKK) in German .

ICZM in Lower Saxony is to be implemented in the long term on the basis of ROKK. The principles and objectives of integrated development of coastal areas, islands and the sea formulated in the spatial planning law of the Land Lower Saxony ( Niedersächsisches Raumordnungsgesetz in German - NROG) in the version dated 07.06.2007 (Nds. GVBl. p. 223) and in the Land’s spatial planning programme ( Landes-Raumordnungsprogramm Niedersachen in German - LROP) in the version dated 08.05.2008 (Nds. GVBl. S. 26) provided the foundations of the initiative in Lower Saxony (see requirements for the 12-nautical mile zone of the coastal sea in German ).

The establishment of an ICZM information platform for Lower Saxony is part of the Land strategy. Its objective is to support the players in the coastal region with planning and is intended as an informal means of information exchange between all the players with activities in the coastal region. It provides information about major projects, plans and processes relevant to ICZM in Lower Saxony’s coastal zone.

Background information:

Schleswig-Holstein sees ICZM as a dual opportunity:
Firstly, it is a means to better identify the diverse potential of the coastal zone and use it more sustainably; secondly, it is a chance to take a closer look at the problems and conflicts of interest of use of the coastal zone and to develop adequate solutions.

The Land government already outlined a framework concept for ICZM back in 2003 which acted on the European Union recommendation on ICZM (2002/413/EC of 30 May 2002) and takes into account the national ICZM strategy.

The regional planning report for the coast and sea ( Raumordnungsbericht Küste und Meer 2005 in German, PDF / 5.43 MB ) lists all the uses made of the coastal and maritime area of Schleswig-Holstein and lists the potential conflict posed by each form of use. The regional development plan of Schleswig-Holstein 2010 in German, PDF / 1.91 MB identifies for the first time the principles and goals of spatial planning of the coastal zone and of integrated coastal zone development.

The Ministry of Interior of Land Schleswig-Holstein, with support from the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) and the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), held the ICZM contest ‘Lust op dat Meer’ in 2010 and 2011. The contest drew attention to some exemplary pilot schemes in Schleswig-Holstein in which municipalities and regions can optimise the development potential on the coasts and what opportunities will result.

Further information about the contest Lust op dat Meerin German .

Schleswig-Holstein is also supporting the priority region Kiel under the Future Economic Programme ( Zukunftsprogramm Wirtschaft ) until autumn 2012 in its development of a framework plan for the Kiel Fjord. For more information go to Rahmenplan Kieler Förde in German .

Background information:

The spatial development programme of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in German (LEP M-V) of 2005 has a chapter devoted to ICZM and spatial planning in coastal waters. Its goals and principles are based on knowledge gained in a number of different regional projects and initiatives on the coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (bottom-up approach). The INTERREG project ‘BaltCoast’, in which Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania played a key role, also produced significant recommendations for action in integrated coastal zone management in the Baltic Sea.

The city-states Hamburg and Bremen have only a small land area on the northern German coast, but both are involved with their sea ports and maritime economic infrastructure in ICZM and maritime planning. It is therefore useful to collaborate with neighbouring coastal Länder . Bremen took a part in drafting the spatial planning concept for the coastal area of Lower Saxony in German (ROKK). Lower Saxony’s ICZM Internet platform also features all the major projects that it carries out together with Bremen. There are a number of different projects in Hamburg which implement the goals and substance of integrated coastal protection. Examples of this include the Tideelbe Concept in German and the creation of an integrated development plan for the Elbe in collaboration with the neighbouring Länder of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein.

Further information:

Regional plans flesh out the spatial planning objectives relevant to coastal areas of the Land . These plans may also include territorial waters.


  • Principles of spatial planning:

    Statements concerning the development, planning, protection the areas as standards to be complied with in subsequent decision making processes.

  • Objectives of spatial planning :

    Prescribed standards (binding) in the form of texts or drawings in regional plans which are governed by or can be reconstructed on the basis of area-specific or functional features and which have been finally decided upon by state authorities responsible for regional planning; they serve to develop, organise and protect the respective areas.

  • Priority areas:

    Areas which are planned for specific, spatially-significant functions or uses, thus excluding other regionally significant uses in this area provided that they are inconsistent with the priority functions or uses

  • Reserve areas:

    Areas where special importance is attached to specific, spatially-significant functions or uses when balanced with competing regionally significant uses

  • Suitability areas:

    Areas which are suitable for specific, spatially-significant measures as per Section 35 Federal Building Code and which do not contravene other interests significant to spatial planning and are excluded elsewhere in the planning region.


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 Integrated Coastal Zone Management