The increasing impacts and effects of climate change are making our coastlines more vulnerable to risks, such as erosion and flooding. This thematic issue explores research to help policy makers reduce the negative impacts of coastal change and guide successful coastal management. The articles offer easy-to-read summaries of key studies in the field, to give a comprehensive view of the latest developments. They explore topics including: • How can we protect our coasts from flooding and erosion? • What is the economic value of our coastlines and marine areas? • How can we effectively engage stakeholders in coastal governance? Since 1996, the European Commission has intensively worked to promote Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) as an approach to integrated planning and management, in which all policies, sectors and interests are properly taken into account to achieve sustainable coastal development. EU coastal Member States are requested to set up ICZM strategies for their shorelines. This special issue of Science for Environment Policy stresses the importance of full integration and participation of all stakeholders for effective coastal governance. Science for Environment Policy is a free news service designed to strengthen links between environmental research and policy. Coastal Management is the nineteenth in a series of special Thematic Issues which take an in-depth look at issues high on the policy agenda. It is guest-edited by Prof Raimonds Ernsteins of the University of Latvia.