The Solent Forum is just one of numerous coastal partnerships around the coast of the UK. Coastal partnerships bring together an area's coastal community to address issues of concern, share best practiceand resources, and facilitate communication. Most partnerships have a small staff that are based in the offices of one of the organisations with a coastal remit, they organise regular events and meetings and run partnership projects.
The boundary of each partnership is set by a distinct geographical unit rather than man-made administrative boundaries. This enables the section of coast in question to be managed in a coherent comprehensive way. For example, the Solent Forum encompasses the East and West Solent, all its constituent estuaries and the Isle of Wight coast.
Since the early 1990's over 50 Coastal Partnerships have been set up around the UK coast. These partnership initiatives have evolved from a 'bottom-up' approach, with people involved from local communities, clubs and user groups to local authorities, statutory agencies, industries, water companies, port & harbour authorities and NGOs. They have existed on ad-hoc funding contributions from local partners. On this basis they have provided significant value for money, levering in support, in-kind benefits and the goodwill of many partners. Many of the benefits are intangible; improved communication, understanding and awareness of coastal issues; access to information and contacts; new collaboration opportunities and research, advising on policy and planning, mobilising community involvement in decision-making; and providing a neutral platform for debate.
There is huge diversity in their approach, but they all have similar unique selling points which make them well placed to deliver Integrated Coastal Zone Management:
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. It offers increased opportunities for learning and influence, strengthening and supporting Coastal Partnership Officers and encouraging stronger representation of the value of their work to their supporting partners and other coastal stakeholders. 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.