25 years have past since a group of committed experts, concerned by the need for a better science-policy interaction, founded the European Union for Dune Conservation (EUDC) at the occasion of the 1st European Dune Conference, in Leiden (NL). Founded in 1989 with the aim of promoting coastal management by bridging the gap between scientists, environmentalists, site managers, planners and policy makers, it has grown into the largest network of coastal practitioners and experts in Europe. The organization has evolved over time to widen the area of work and considering integration in a larger sense. Thus, the name evolved to Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC).
Looking backwards we like to think that we have succeeded on promoting sustainable, integrated policy approaches to land, sea and coast and actively stimulating interaction, communication and bridges between science, society and policy.
It is now a crucial moment for coastal management with a new EU directive being discussed, where Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) risks being belittled or even dismissed. This is why EUCC released a position paper last 3rd February and mobilized its wider network, advocating for ICM towards EU parliament and Member States.
With occasion of our 25th anniversary we like to highlight some EUCC milestones in contributing to wiser coastal and marine management in Europe. One of the most crucial ones is the 1st European Coastal Conservation Conference in 1991, organised by the EUCC and the Dutch government, which marked the start of the development of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) as a policy approach in the European Community. It led to the EC Demonstration Programme for ICZM and to the adoption of the European Council and Parliament Recommendation on ICZM (2002). EUCC was then invited by the European Commission to join the EU ICZM Expert Group; Dr. Alan Pickaver was EUCC’s representative in this expert group until August 2013. As a result, a novel means for Member States to measure the progress they are making on ICZM implementation through the use of indicators was developed. This method was presented to the Working Group on Indicators and data and accepted by the Group of Experts in 2006. In recent times EUCC has placed efforts on the practical implications of ICZM implementation, developing practical tools as DeCyDe for Sustainability and the use of ICZM and Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) as tools for climate change adaptation.
Information exchange (with e.g. OURCOAST and ENCORA) and capacity building (with e.g. French field workshops and CoastLearn) have also been crucial means to achieve our goals.
We are especially proud of the most applied, hands-on and visible face of EUCC, our field projects, implemented through our network in a variety of countries such as Poland, Baltic States, Russia, Ukraine, Morocco and currently in Montenegro. These projects have achieved coastal nature areas restoration and recognition, erosion control and the recovery of stable subtidal and intertidal mussel beds, among others. In this setting it is also worth recognising the EECONECT Action Fund, a joint venture of EUCC, Eurosite, Euronature and ECNC which between 1996 and 2012, supported financially 96 projects resulting in the protection of more than 160.000 hectares of land in 15 countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Finally, the most important recognition is for our EUCC members, the backbone of our organization, and who has admirably organized conferences and workshops during these years. Now, it is important to announce two major events for our membership and the wider coastal and marine community in this year: the EUCC workshop and conference on Dunes management in Merlimont (FR), 17-19th June, and the Littoral 2014 Conference in Klaipeda (LT). I wish to convey my gratefulness to our national branches in France and Germany, as well as for the Baltic States Office, for taking the lead on these events.
These will represent outstanding moments to blow out our 25 candles and we hope you will join us then!!
Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC) Management Team and Staff