System of Indicators for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the Balearic Islands

About the project

In 2005, the Government of the Balearic Islands (DG Research, Technological Development and Innovation) and the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (IMEDEA) initiated the R+D+I (Research, Technological Development and Innovation) ICZM project in the Balearic Islands. The overall objective of this project was to generate scientific knowledge to help achieve sustainability using ICZM as a framework, with specific focus on the Balearic Islands as a case study. The objectives were (1) to generate scientific knowledge related to coastal social-ecological systems, (2) to develop techniques, frameworks and tools to help implement ICZM, and (3) to enable the transfer of scientific knowledge and innovation to society and decision-makers. Since 2009, research related to ICZM (follow-up of past projects and new initiatives) is being continued by the SIAS Division of SOCIB. 

One of the major outcomes of the R+D+I ICZM project was the development of a System of Indicators for ICZM in the Balearic Islands. This project, which was initiated in 2006, was carried out by IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB) in partnership with the Economic and Social Council of Mallorca (CES), an organization with legal competence to represent the opinion and the needs of civil society and relate these opinions to government through official opinion papers (Dictamen). The project was carried out through a participative process with a multidisciplinary team of scientists (social and natural scientists from IMEDEA and SOCIB) and the CES as a group representative of civil society. The participative process was strategic (i.e. minimum groups to limit logistical complications with high level of representation to ensure maximum needs are represented) and incremental (i.e. started out with two core partners and built in more over time). 

The first step of this project was the definition of locally relevant sustainability objectives. In this way indicators were selected that reflect the core dimensions and challenges to sustainability in the Islands. Objectives were also prioritised and evaluated by a variety of stakeholders using social science research methods. This approach was taken to ensure the most efficient dedication of available time and resources (i.e. targeting priority areas and challenges). The indicator system is interdisciplinary, requiring data from many different sources for its implementation. Wherever possible, efforts have been made to select indicators that have been tried and tested at international/national/regional levels and where data are already available. In other words, the focus has been more on the coordination of existing data and methodologies as opposed to the generation of new material.

The initiative did not end with the proposal for the indicator system. Significant efforts are being made to implement the system in the Islands. Since resources are limited, the approach to implementation has been incremental, starting with the indicators that require minimal time and resources to implement, that reflect the most important sustainability challenges, and working with partners already working in the field of indicators and sustainability.

In December 2007, the system and implementation plan was formally adopted as a Dictamen by the CES, and presented to the Government at the end of 2008. In 2009 a pilot link project was initiated on the island of Menorca by SOCIB in collaboration with the Balearic Statistics Institute (IBESTAT) and the Socio-environmental Organisation of Menorca (OBSAM). Efforts are also underway to integrate the system into a broader ICZM governance structure for the islands through the development of a proposal for a Directive to Implement ICZM in the Balearic Islands.