Coastal erosion

What is coastal erosion and when is it a problem?
What can be done?
Key concepts
Indicators and monitoring
Potential interventions
Setback lines
Use of models
EU policies and Directives
The way forward
How to do it?
Systematic approach
Decision loop
Relevant Web links


  Systematic approach to implementation of erosion management



A sustainable solution for coastal erosion problems should be based on an understanding of the sediment dynamics, framed in a policy context with explicit objectives and an institutional environment in which each stakeholder has a clear role. The CONSCIENCE project introduces the Frame of Reference as an aid to formulate this policy. Through this Frame a transparent erosion management policy becomes possible.

  1. Basic questions
  2. Decision loop
  3. CONSCIENCE guidelines
  4. Be SMART

1. Basic questions

The development and implementation of coastal erosion management requires an answer to a set of basic questions:

WHY ?, WHAT, HOW ?, WHERE ?, WHEN ? and crucially, WHO ?

Basic Frame-of-Reference to support policy development and implementation.


WHY ? -   explains the strategic background to the problem. It indicates the need to consider the values and functions of the coast in a broader context. What is the strategic objective, we are striving for ?
WHAT ? -  invokes the definition of one or more objectives describing in more detail what has to be achieved in order to comply with the strategic objective. As this implies the choice between different tactics, the related goals are tactical objectives.
HOW ?, WHEN ? and WHERE ? – show what  needs to be done in order to make the tactical objective operational. The Framework implies an operational decision recipe, consisting of four elements.
WHO ? - draws attention to the problem of responsibility and power relationships between different actors, influencing the process by which several decisions in this framework are being taken.


2. Decision loop

A simplified expression of the Frame-of-Reference is a simple decision loop :

3. CONSCIENCE guidelines

Elaborated into 5 questions, this decision loop represents the basis for  the CONSCIENCE  guidelines for implementation of sustainable coastal erosion management  in local and regional initiatives :



It is essential to be as specific as possible. A  basic requirement is to make your objectives SMART:

1. Specific :

  • Objectives should specify what they want to achieve.

2. Measurable

  • You should be able to measure whether you are meeting the objectives or not.

3. Achievable:

  • Are the objectives you set, achievable and attainable?

4. Realistic:

  • Can you realistically achieve the objectives with the resources you have?

5. Time

  • When do you want to achieve the set objectives?




A specific targeted research project under the
EU’s 6th Framework Programme for Research (FP6)