Although the coastal ecosystem of Bangladesh contains a highly functional and structurally diverse ecology, this ecology is gradually being degraded. As a consequence, the quality of life of a large section of the coastal community is in economic decline. This poses a daunting challenge to the sectoral coastal management programmes, active since the 1960s, aiming at simultaneously ameliorating people's livelihood and supporting the ecosystem. These programmes have been reasonably successful in managing the ecosystem, but in many cases, the situation has become worse. The limitations of these programmes include the tendency to adopt an exclusionist approach, a narrowly departmentalized administration and weak management. Currently, the integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) approach is espoused as the main strategy. With the adoption of Bangladesh's Coastal Zone Policy of 2005, the foundation for integrated management was laid. The next realistic target will be to bring about changes in culture and mandate among coastal institutions in favour of integrated management.