Coastal setback zones, a well-entrenched tool
The establishment of setback zones is a tool that is increasingly used worldwide as part of coastal policies because that meets many different policy objectives: it contributes to biodiversity preservation, helps maintaining ecosystem services and, by protecting populations against the risks of submersion and erosion, is a relevant option for adaptation to climate change.
A flagship provision of the ICZM Protocol
Article 8-2 of the Mediterranean ICZM Protocol, laying down the establishment of a 100 metre setback zone in Mediterranean coastal areas, is undeniably a flagship provision of this new legal instrument that was adopted in January 2008. This article reveals how regional Mediterranean law in this case filters into the traditional sphere of domestic law to govern an area, regional planning, which is usually the sole competence of national and sub-national authorities.
Article 8-2 of the ICZM Protocol was the subject of heated debate during negotiations due to the fact that its implementation raises many challenges for an integrated and sustainable management of Mediterranean coastal zones. It is therefore not surprising that the building ban is accompanied by possibilities for adaptation. As the Protocol is about to enter into force, it seems necessary to study the precise content and scope of this emblematic provision of the Protocol in order to determine the exact obligations falling to States.