• by Anne Bouyssou

Along with people migration towards cities, there is a global movement of human communities towards the coasts (Blackburn & Marques, 2013). The coastal zone is the interface between the land and the ocean. Coastal areas support more than 40 % of the world’s population. It is expected that the number of coastal mega-cities, containing ten million or more people, will increase (IOC-UNESCO, IMO, FAO & UNDP, 2011). In 2013, among the nineteen largest cities of the world were counted fourteen port cities (United Nations Human Settlements Programme, 2013).

WCT 2016_Week 2_Anne Bouyssou 2.JPG

There are several reasons for this phenomenon, among which are natural beauty, mild climate, the ability to exchange and trade with remote communities thanks to maritime transport and the development of ports, and the exploitation of marine resources (United Nations Human Settlements Programme, 2013). Indeed, coastal areas are the most productive areas of the oceans, accounting for 95 % of global marine fisheries, since they receive nutrients from land through rivers and estuaries (Duda & Sherman, 2002).

More people, more human activities in the coastal zone give rise to new needs in terms of management.

WCT 2016_Week 2_Anne Bouyssou.JPGFor example, increasing population and development along the coasts induce an increase in the demand for land. Owing to their extension, some human activities require more space to operate. In the specific case of ports, a geographical shift is taking place from the inner to the outer cities in order to adapt to the present size of ships with deeper draft. In a globalized world, increased demand for maritime transport – in conjunction with the containerization boom – leads to some ports acting as hubs where containers are handled, stockpiled and then distributed throughout the hinterland. As a result, today’s port facilities require a larger amount of land (Stopford, 2009).




Blackburn, S. & Marques, C. (2013). Mega-urbanisation on the coast : global context and key trends in the twenty-first century. In M. Pelling & S. Blackburn (Eds.), Megacities and the coast : risk, resilience and transformation. Earthscan.

Duda, A. M. & Sherman, K. (2002). A new imperative for improving management of large marine ecosystems. Ocean & Coastal Management 45 (2002) 797-833. Elsevier.

IOC-UNESCO, IMO, FAO & UNDP. (2011). A Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability. IOC/UNESCO. Paris.

Stopford, M. (2009). Maritime Economics. Third Edition. Routledge.


United Nations Human Settlements Programme. (2013). State of the world’s cities 2012/2013 : prosperity of cities. Routledge.





Malta (Anne Bouyssou, 2011)


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