The coastal zone is a space where many social, economic, and political activities intersect with natural processes. In this paper, we present an adaptation of the method of ‘Circles of Sustainability’, used to provide a visual assessment of indicators that define sustainability profiles for cities. It is used as a basis for a ‘Circles of Coastal Sustainability’ (CCS) framework that can be used at multiple spatial scales to assess indicators of critical processes that facilitate/constrain sustainability of the world’s coastal zones. The development of such a framework can support management by identifying key features that influence environmental sustainability and human well-being. CCS presents a holistic assessment of four interdependent boundary domains: Environment and Ecology, Social and Cultural, Economics, and Governance and Policy. This approach improves its utility and usability for decision-makers and researchers. CCS adds to existing assessment frameworks that are often focused on particular themes and/or domains that confine their utility to the context of sustainable development and the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which demand an inherently holistic and integrated evaluation. CCS is a holistic framework designed to assess the boundaries to sustainability for socio-ecological systems at multiple scales for the world’s coasts.
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