ICAN is a project of UNESCO IOC´s IODE Programme, and ICAN members seek to play a leadership role in forging international collaborations of value to the participating nations, thereby optimizing regional governance in coastal zone management and marine spatial planning.


We live on a blue planet, with oceans and seas covering more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface. Oceans feed us, regulate our climate, and generate most of the oxygen we breathe. Some 37 per cent of the world's population lives within 100 km of the coast. (UNEP)


CWAs are "...collections of digital maps and datasets with supplementary tables, illustrations, & information that systematically illustrate the coast, oftentimes with cartographic & decision support tools, all of which are accessible via the Internet."  O'Dea et al., 2007


Membership in ICAN is open to all interested parties who agree to the mission & objectives of ICAN, including those with an operational coastal web atlas, as well as those hoping to design and build a coastal web atlas in the future.
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ICAN 4: "Formalizing the Network, Engaging the Mediterranean," Trieste, Italy, November 2009

>Submitted by dawn on 17 March 2010 - 1:08am

The International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN) is pleased to report the completion of ICAN 4: Formalizing the Network, Engaging the Mediterranean. This event took place at the Adriatico Guest House, UNESCO International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy, 16-20 November 2009, in association with the European Environment Agency (EEA)/Environmental Information and Observation Network (EIONET) Workshop on Maritime and Coastal Information Systems, which took place on 18-19 November 2009. The main objective of the EEA/EIONET workshop was to inform the participating countries of the EIONET National Reference Centre (NRC) network and to allow for a first exchange of views on scope, and roles in the new formation for this entity. EEA/EIONET participants also explored opportunities that are becoming available as a result of ICAN.

The ICAN 4 workshop in Trieste followed on last year’s successful workshop, ICAN 3: Building on the Interoperable Approach, hosted in July 2008 by the EEA in Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as the two previous workshops held in Cork, Ireland and Corvallis, Oregon, USA in 2006 and 2007 respectively. ICAN 4 was sponsored in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as the EEA.

ICAN has grown from an idea to the cusp of a formal virtual organization/community of practice which has captured the interest of local and state governments, non-governmental organizations, universities, NOAA, the European Environment Agency (EEA), and UNESCO. However, much more work needs to be done, and for this workshop the objectives and activities included:

  • Roll out final implementation structures on governance (including formal procedures for receiving new members), strategic planning, and technical activities so that ICAN can formally incorporate as an organization.
  • Presentations on emerging atlases in European countries (especially the Mediterranean) that are making themselves relevant through policy, environmental and socio-economic indicator work and related themes.
  • Continued progress on our ontology and semantic interoperability work, but with an eye also toward articulating the benefits of semantic interoperability at a broader scale, to non-specialists. In this we look forward to the advice and assistance of MMI and SeaDataNet, who have already developed conceptual framework documents in this area. Both groups plan to have representation at ICAN 4.
    - A small “workshop within a workshop” for atlas administrators on how to become a new node in interoperability prototype.
    - Strategize on developing further improvements of all those nodes (according to the SEIS principles of sharing information for multiple purposes, using data and systems that are accessible and interoperable).
    - Discuss further work needed on partnerships, infrastructure and data exchange formats, all with the overall objective of enabling the nodes to share and communicate with each other, avoid duplication, and streamline information management.
  • A focus on users: better knowledge of our users, their needs, and on continued inventory, assessment, and evaluation of atlases.
  • A small “workshop within a workshop” general atlas users, how to function effectively in CWAs, especially as the technology continues to change.
  • Coordination of research agenda and proposal teams for submissions to the National Science Foundation.
  • Revisiting the main recommendations of the ICAN 1 workshop, picking up where we left off there in 2006 and addressing the recommendations that have not yet received adequate attention. One recommendation was the needed emphasis on users, already mentioned above. Others would include evaluating atlas impact, and developing analysis and decision-support tools in atlases.

ICAN 4 was co-organized and co-chaired by Prof. Dawn Wright of Oregon State University, USA and Dr. Ned Dwyer of the Coastal and Marine Resources Centre, Ireland.


Organizers and Sponsors

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  For our Coasts

Newsletter, Vol, 8, Nr 1 - Now Available!

We are now entering our 8th year publishing the ICAN newsletter. Many thanks to our Editor Andy Sherin!

Please consider preparing an article for the next newsletter that will likely be published in the fall of this year.
Happy New Year!

Photos from CoastGIS 2018

Our friends from CoastGIS 2018 have posted a wonderful gallery of photos, including the recent ICAN mini-workshop:

See how many ICAN members you can spot!