Coastal Governance

Coastal regions provide multiple and important benefits to society. Often, these benefits are sustained over time through the active and passive management of coasts and coastal infrastructures. These may be ‘hard’ infrastructure such as concrete dikes that should provide protection against floods. However, it may also refer to ‘soft’ or ‘natural’ infrastructure such as dune areas or mangrove areas, which combine flood protection with contributions to biodiversity or recreation. Whatever their character, these infrastructures are shaped by the (in)action of human society over time.

Various actors in society decide on the construction, maintenance or abolition/degradation of infrastructures. This involvement of multiple actors adds a challenge to decision-making on coastal infrastructures. Actors have different interests, positions and roles, which leads to a complex net of interactions. Also, different actors have access to different types of information and they may hold different worldviews. How actors use available knowledge and information influences how a decision-making process is framed, which in turn determines the range of possible outcomes.

As time progresses, actors can improve their knowledge and information base by obtaining feedback from the biophysical systems they seek to manage. Sometimes actors directly observe consequences of their choices, but often information is obtained through strategies for monitoring and evaluation that are formalized and explicitly designed. A wealth of data are being collected, and yet it seems that there is always a lack of information, or monitoring data, to make informed decisions.

The workshop proposed here specifically examines the connections between decision-making amongst actors and the feedback from the (biophysical) coastal systems in the governance of infrastructures. Do actors use the feedback they can get from the biophysical coastal systems as a basis for their decisions? Can one say that actors are learning over time, using such feedback information? The proposed workshop will look into this governance of infrastructures in coastal regions, with a focus on the interactions between actors and their learning about systems and processes.

Afdeling Kust ANB Coastal & Marine IOC IODE FOD Marine Board - ESF Coördinatiepunt Provincie West-Vlaanderen Oostende VLIZ
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