The need for ICZM can be recognized as a result of an environmental crisis – existing or projected -, or as result of perceived economical opportunities and the decisions that have to be taken. The realization that ICZM needs to be started can be enhanced by external influences such as international consensus to promote ICZM.
Eventually, political decisions are needed to initiate ICZM. Therefore, the decision-makers must be provided with information which shows them the urgency and benefits of such an integrated approach. The level of the decision makers to approach – local, provincial, national – depends on the geographical scope of the problem(s) on which the process will focus.
This is also the stage to involve the users and the public; ICZM will be designed to obtain sustainable and ‘democratic’ use of the coastal resources for them and it is best to involve them as early as possible. A possibility to involve them is to create a coastal users group; a NGO body which is informed about the progress of projects and which can inform and advice politicians about the decisions to be taken. Such a group consists of delegates of all users of the coastal zone under consideration. Thus the group might contain people representing large industry, commercial fishery and tourist resort developers. In addition, producers of handicraft, artisanal fishery and tourists themselves should be invited to include as much as possible.
There is discussion whether ICZM must or should have a top-down or bottom-up approach. IPCC93 mentions a study of 23 cases and concluded that the majority were initiated by a top-down approach. This occurred in urban and rural settings, and traditional and modern cultural settings. Areas with market economies all featured top-down approaches, areas with subsistence economies had both top-down and bottom-up approaches. The research suggests that local groups are most willing to act when they perceive themselves to be direct stakeholders.
The environmental problems and social conflicts prompted numerous initiatives, activities and projects aimed at the improvement of the situation in the Kastela Bay in the last 30 years. These initiatives mostly came from the scientific community, but also from the local authorities and affected population.
The most important initiative was the National Project Environmental Management of the Kastela Bay initiated in 1989. In the same year, the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) and the Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance Programme (METAP) joined the national initiative.
The general objectives of the national project were (1) to identify the causes of the present situation and trends, (2) to assess their impacts and significance, and (3) to develop alternatives for sustainable development. The University of Split in co-operation with the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Zagreb under the assistance of PAP/RAC were assigned to implement it.
The MAP aimed to integrate environmental concerns into development planning. Here PAP/RAC, MEDPOL, and the BP/RAC, in co-operation with the Institute for Oceanography and Fisheries in Split, and the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Split took up the assignment.
The METAP agreed to support the programme of implementation of the Integrated Ecological Project Split-Solin-Kastela-Trogir: Infrastructure Programme. This programme of construction of urban infrastructure was proposed by a number of local institutions, headed by the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Split, and in co-operation with the Enterprise of Construction of Split.