Coastal Ecosytems contribute significantly to socio-economic development in the Southeast Asia Region. The emerging question is how to achieve sustainable development through innovative thinking, smart planning and better insights derived from an ecosystem-based approach (EbA). Based on experience gained while implementing the Sustainable Management and Governance of Coastal Ecosystems (ENGAGE) project funded by the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN), we contribute to addressing this question by proposing an emerging EbA as a complementary concept for implementing Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). A strong emphasis on strengthening the capacity of development actors and local communities remains pertinent in formulating this eco-centric policy for resource governance. This synthesis is described in three sections presenting an overview of EbA and ICZM in selected countries in the region. The first section reflects the review of coastal management frameworks and institutions, with a focus on policy strengths and gaps in the integration of EbA, particularly in the context of climate change adaptation. The second section explains different procedures adopted or proposed in the region for sustainable development of coastal ecosystems. The third section demonstrates how regional-scale initiatives like ENGAGE can facilitate the exchange of data, information, and knowledge, and stimulate cooperation for realizing the 2030 Agenda for Transformation, and the coastal zone-related SDGs and targets.