What is the CPN?
The Coastal Partnerships Network (CPN) exists to encourage the exchange of information and debate between Coastal Partnership Officers and to establish links with other coastal stakeholders. In this way the CPN offers increased opportunities for learning and influence, strengthening and supporting Coastal Partnership Officers and encouraging stronger representation of the value of the work of Coastal Partnerships to their supporting partners and other coastal stakeholders and initiatives.
Initially called the Coastal Partnerships Working Group, the CPN was established in 2006 to increase communication and collaboration between Coastal Partnerships, to share good practice, to provide a collective voice for Coastal Partnerships at national level and to seek to influence the development of Integrated Coastal Zone Management strategies and the marine planning process. Over 50 Coastal Partnerships, many with up to 20 years experience exist around the UK coast implementing voluntary coastal and estuary management plans and strategies.
CPN is run by a small committee of Coastal Partnership Officers who operate on a voluntary basis and report to the annual Coastal Partnerships Forum. Officers of the committee, including the Chair, are elected at this annual event, with other members volunteering their services on a larger Steering Group. Several meetings are held each year and this ensures that momentum on CPN work is kept up between the annual Coastal Partnerships Forums.
What do Coastal Partnerships offer?
Coastal Partnerships (CPs) play a vital role in the integration and management of actions and activities on our coasts, targeting their work towards local or specific communities and sectors through a ‘bottom-up’ approach. With CPs now regularly being used by statutory organisations to deliver stakeholder engagement, the value of their role has proved to be significant.
One example of the many areas that CPs can provide support is within Marine Planning and coastal management, where they are perfectly placed to become key delivery agents, offering professional, reliable and neutral stakeholder engagement, whilst delivering services within tight time-scales and providing significant value for money. By investing in the mechanisms already in place within the CPN, we can avoid the creation of unnecessary new measures to deliver aspects of Marine Planning, thus preventing the ‘reinvention of the wheel’.
The benefits of Coastal Partnerships are diverse, reflecting the distinctive qualities within each Partnership, but will generally include some or all of the following:
- Impartiality and a proven role in conflict resolution and consensus building;
- The ability to work across sectors and between all levels of decision-making;
- Raising awareness of issues and a mechanism for community engagement;
- Horizon scanning to inform organisations of coastal issues;
- Attracting project funding and initiating collaborative ventures;
- Providing a gateway service and ‘one-stop-shop’ for information and contacts;
- Filling gaps where there are no sectoral responsibilities and mobilising voluntary support and involvement;
- Providing a (bottom-up) conduit to regional and national government.
As well as ‘traditional’ Coastal Partnerships, the CPN also encompasses the work of other groups such as AONBs and European Marine Site management groups. These groups still offer a service within coastal management, although their roles and structure may differ somewhat. Coastal Groups are also involved in the CPN, although they do not offer many of the core services that CPs do, such as neutral stakeholder engagement and conflict resolution. Whilst CPs depend on funding from Partners, many of these other groups have their own statutory funding.