The coastal marine environment constitutes a biological, geochemical, and physical milieu without which life would not exist. Marine waters provide habitat for 1-2 million aquatic species; ~96% use the coastal zone during their lives. Ocean phytoplankton, converting solar energy to food, produce half the oxygen by plant life on Earth.
Coastal zones are increasingly threatened by a multiplicity of inputs and interactions unmatched by most other ecosystems. Terrestrial inputs from agriculture, urbanization, and pollution affect freshwater run-off. Coastal development leads to loss of coastal habitat. Over-exploitation depletes species and
reduces biodiversity, altering ecosystem structure and function. Climate change further exacerbates the stresses on ecosystem dynamics and resilience. These coastal challenges provide an extraordinary opportunity to undertake fundamental, discovery-oriented, cutting-edge research that will immeasurably enhance understanding of how individual organisms, species, and ecosystems respond to unprecedented directional and increasingly variable environmental change.
The coastal zone includes both coastal waters and the narrow strip of land separating the marine and terrestrial environment. The coastal zone thus offers a myriad of goods and services ranging from production to protection. Despite its relatively small share of the global surface, this zone is highly productive and sustains a high biodiversity. Growing pressure from increasingly diverse human activities coupled with climate change impacts threaten the functional integrity of these coastal ecosystems. A multi-disciplinary approach towards understanding drivers, pressures and impacts in the coastal zone requires effective integration of data and information in policy and management.
The previous three Symposia have been particularly successful in bringing together people representing different disciplines, including managers. All lectures were carried out in plenum, which meant that scientists from different disciplines and managers had the opportunity to listen and learn from each other, resulting in a special atmosphere important for breaking down barriers.
The 4th ICZM symposium will again be hosted by the Institute of Marine Research, Norway in Arendal, Norway, and held on July 2 – 5, 2018. This multi-disciplinary international conference is intended to promote science and integration of knowledge for the sustainable management of coastal resources. It will provide a venue for scientists, engineers, managers and policy-makers to discuss recent advances and innovative ideas, to share experiences and to develop networks.