Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Two representatives from Trinidad and Tobago attended a regional workshop (co-sponsored by CSI, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission’s Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (IOCARIBE) and the Caribbean Development Bank) on management of beach resources in small Eastern Caribbean islands (Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, October 1996). Their contributions, along with contributions by other countries in the region, were published as CSI Info 1 (1997): ‘Integrated Framework for the Management of Beach Resources within the Smaller Caribbean Islands: workshop results’ and Coastal Region and Small Island Papers 1 (1997): ‘Managing Beach Resources in the Smaller Caribbean Islands: workshop papers’. A practical guide for stakeholders, presenting methodology for coastal development setbacks in the Eastern Caribbean Islands was published as CSI Info 4: ‘Planning for Coastline Change’ and distributed.

One laboratory in Trinidad and Tobago takes part in the ‘Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity (CARICOMP)’ field project. It monitors coral reef, mangrove and seagrass sites at Buccoo Reef and Bon Accord Lagoon (Tobago). The collected output of such monitoring, throughout the region, was published as CSI Papers 3 ‘CARICOMP. Caribbean Coral Reef, Seagrass and Mangrove Sites’. In addition to continued support for systematic biological monitoring, a particular effort is being made at a number of selected sites to analyse the socio-economic and cultural dynamics of natural resource use. A national site director attended site directors meetings, in Cancún, Mexico in November 1996 and Blackrock, Trinidad and Tobago in May 1998, for information exchange with, and technical assistance from, the CARICOMP steering committee. A specialist from Trinidad and Tobago attended the project’s sub-committee meeting on CSI pilot project development in Jamaica in September 1996. In co-operation with the National Commission for UNESCO, the preparation and dissemination of fact sheets on coastal environmental matters was initiated in December 1996 within the ‘Associated Schools Programme’. An expert from Trinidad and Tobago attended a workshop in Jamaica in May 1998 on ‘The Use of Natural Coastal Resources at CARICOMP sites: monitoring community-based management and socioeconomic/cultural aspects’. A summary of the CARICOMP project, its goals, achievements and future direction was produced in March 2001.

Various publications from the ‘Managing beach resources and planning for coastline change, Caribbean Islands project’ (formerly ‘Coast and Beach Stability in the Eastern Caribbean (COSALC) project’) have been distributed in Trinidad and Tobago. A summary report ‘Coast and Beach Stability in the Caribbean Islands - COSALC project activities 1996-97’ (published as No.6 in the CSI Info series) and a report ‘Planning for Coastline Change - COSALC project review, 1998’ were submitted to the Trinidad and Tobago authorities. Public information material distributed in 1998 included: a poster ‘The Sea at your doorstep’, three articles in the Sea Grant in the Caribbean Newsletter (January-December 1998), and ‘Coping with Beach Erosion’ (published as Coastal Management Sourcebook 1). A follow-up ‘Coping with Shoreline Erosion in the Caribbean’ was published in Nature & Resources vol.35 no. 4 in December 1999. A video production expert from Trinidad and Tobago ran a sub-regional workshop on ‘Video Production for Broadcast and Exchange’ in Grenada in November 1998 to produce a series of video clips to ‘bring to the living room’ an environmental message based on local material. A second workshop was held in Grenada in May 1999 in co-operation with UNESCO’s Communication, Information and Informatics Sector and the UNESCO Jamaica Office. One person from the Republic attended as a resource person.

The Port of Spain Office supported preparation of a source book on the Caribbean Sea and Islands for schools in the region, in co-operation with the Caribbean Sea Project (CSP) of the Education Sector’s Associated Schools Project. This was published as CSI papers 5 ‘Glimpses of the Blue Caribbean’ (2000). In July 1999 a UNESCO representative visited Trinidad to launch the Sandwatch project. This is a joint CSI CSP initiative. Its aim is to improve environmental education in thirteen Caribbean countries. Children will be taught scientific method by observing and monitoring changes, activities and processes at local beaches. Teachers, parents and local communities will then assist the children to design and implement projects to solve problems specific to their beaches; so improving the environment while studying it. A UNESCO mission visited Trinidad and Tobago in April 2000 to evaluate ongoing activities and plan with local counterparts for 2000-2001. The particular focus of attention was the joint CSI-Associated Schools Project ‘Sandwatch’. A field workshop, for school children, on beach monitoring was held in December 2001. A teacher and two other people from Trinidad and Tobago participated in a Sandwatch teacher training workshop in St. Lucia in 2001; schools in the country are now undertaking beach monitoring activities.

The Small Islands Voice project started in January 2002. Its goals are to overcome the isolation of small islands by providing their citizens, including young people, with opportunities to voice their opinions on environmental and development issues in a variety of ways: radio, television, print and Internet-based debate. In this way they will: be able to contribute to the 10-year review of the ‘Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Islands Developing States’ adopted in Barbados in 1994; and play a more effective role in decision-making in their islands. 

The Small Islands Voice Internet-based global forum was launched in October 2002. Its aim is to engage the general public in small islands in an on-line debate on issues relating to environment and development. One discussion topic was beach access in Tobago: Beaches for All: Let the People Decide’ (November 2002); ‘Support from Around the World for Keeping Beaches Open to the Public’ (December 2002); ‘Providing Public Access  to the Beach’ (January 2003); ‘Safeguarding Freedom of Choice’ (January 2003); and ‘Sharing Beach Resources’ (February 2003). A quantitative summary and a complete compilation of the responses to the beach access debate were produced. 


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