Science and Policy Integration for Coastal System Area (SPICOSA)

Project leader

Funding source

EU Sixth Framework Programme - Sustainable development, global change and ecosystems

Project Details

Start date: 01/02/2007
End date: 31/01/2011
Funding: 10000000 EUR


We are trying to assist Europe in its goal of achieving Sustainable Development by developing and testing a conceptual methodological framework for this transition in coastal zones. The Spicosa initiative originates from the fact that coastal systems are under increasing human pressure and policy has not been able to respond properly to the resulting negative impacts on ecological, social and economic systems. As a consequence, we have realized that more innovative effort is needed to treat the coastal zone as an integral functioning system (the CZ System), to focus more on how to provide prognostic information or this integrated system, and to improve the ways in which research information about this is utilized for decision making, The Spicosa working hypothesis is that our present approach to managing our CZ resource needs a much improved, interactive link between the best interests of the natural-resource system and the society that benefits from it. This is illustrated explained further in the figure to the right. The figure to the right illustrates two Coastal Zone system Information Feedback Loops. The default loop is shown as a thin green line, and the Spicosa loop as thick purple line. The default loop only slowly forces policy to be reactive to problems by waiting for the general public to become aware that the benefits derived from the CZ ecosystems have changed. Because many of these changes are often irreversible, on any realistic time scale, such that much greater costs are incurred than if precautionary changes had been made earlier. The Spicosa loop provides scientifically defendable information, on a realistic time-scale, to decision-makers in order that policy can be precautionary regarding serious losses and that these decisions can be based on cost-benefit analyses that optimize social and ecological long-term benefits. The Ecological-Social-Economic (ESE) Assessment box represents the central activity of Spicosa. The small diamond boxes represent critical threshold constraints on the interactions between components of the system, which need to be properly represented for successful forecasting of policy scenarios.

External Partners

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:54