The success and sustainability of the SDS-SEA implementation is the ‘scaling-up’ of on-the-ground initiatives from local, to national, and on to the regional level using ICM. By demonstrating to local governments that the ICM framework and process not only results in environmental benefit but economic gain as well, a number of local communities and governments in the region have begun to institutionalize ICM programmes within their regular operations. Xiamen, PR China is a good example of the positive impact that an ICM programme has on the social, economic and environmental fabric of a city. By adopting an urban ecosystem management approach, Xiamen placed public health at the center of economic development, set up effective nutrient reduction programmes, rehabilitated habitats, improved shorefront management, and reduced adverse impacts on ecosystem health, thus creating a more conducive and healthy environment for its residents.
But as benefits and confidence build up, the scope of the challenge also widens. It becomes apparent that individual local governments cannot completely solve environmental problems on their own. Transboundary issues, such as pollutant loadings from river discharges, ocean currents, sea-based activities or atmospheric deposition, require interventions at a higher level. This is where national governments play a vital role, to ensure that the necessary policies, programs and capacity-building activities are in place for the expanding ICM coverage to all coastal communities.
At the sub-regional and regional levels, where conflicts across national boundaries are even more pronounced, a similar scenario is being played out. Countries acting independently cannot achieve sustainable development goals on their own. They need the cooperation of their coastal neighbors, some of whom may not have the same understanding or level of resources to commit to such programmes. The SDS-SEA and ICM, respectively, provide the strategic framework and platform as well as a systematic process for countries and stakeholders to work together.