Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
colbartn.gif (4535 octets)

Coastal Resources Management Ulugan Bay, Palawan Island, The Philippines
Volume III an integrated management model

M. Fortes, S. Fazi

For the past two decades, we have ignored too many warning signs in the condition of our coastal environment. There are strong indications that we are moving in the wrong direction and that there are few short cuts back. Indeed we have been rapidly foreclosing options for the future. We see widespread degradation, creating issues that are no longer the monopoly of science to address, but are in need of socio-cultural and institutional considerations as well.

In the last decade environmental activities undertaken and the accolades received by the City Government of Puerto Princesa City made the city a bastion of sustainable coastal development not just in the province of Palawan but in the entire country as well. Puerto Princesa City became a catalyst of changes in coastal environmental concerns, playing an active role as “development manager” more than simply a policy-maker and regulatory body.

This is where the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)/ United Nations Development Program (UNDP)/ Puerto Princesa City Project (“Coastal Resource Management and Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay”) comes in. The project has shared with the city the knowledge, the skills and, to some extent, the values of an Integrated Coastal Zone Management, setting up a pilot case in Ulugan Bay.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) implemented the project with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Furthermore, the Government of Puerto Princesa City and a number of national scientific institutions and non-governmental organizations have been deeply involved as on-site executing agents.

Within UNESCO, the project has been implemented by the Intersectoral Platform for Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI). In line with CSI’s overall objective – to achieve culturally appropriate, socially balanced and environmentally sound development – CSI is implementing pilot projects throughout the world with the aim to develop a set of tested wise practices for sustainable human development in coastal regions and in small islands. (Box I.1).

Box I.1. UNESCO Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands

CSI was initiated in 1996 to contribute to environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, culturally respectful and economically viable development in coastal regions and in small islands. All UNESCO Programme Sectors are involved. CSI has adopted three complementary and mutually reinforcing maodalities:

  1. Field-based pilot projects which provide a framework for collaborative action on the ground.
  2. UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN (University Network) arrangements, which support and enhance the field project activities through training, capacity building and awareness raising.
  3. A multi-lingual, internet-based forum on “Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development”. (user name = csi, password = wise)

Today 23 field projects are in operation worldwide. Three university chairs have been formally established, and others are being set into place. The internet-based discussion forum, which now includes some 6,000 participants from around the world representing a wide range of domains, has developed a series of 52 example wise practices that guide sustainable development action on the ground.

Through continuing interactions between field projects, university chairs and the internet-based discussion forum, the CSI initiative will continue to develop a set of tested wise practices addressing priority coastal concerns. These wise practices will provide guidance as to “what can be done under prevailing circumstances”. They will also contribute to the improvement of (a) interaction between local-global levels, (b) harmonization between top-down and bottom-up approaches, (c) integration among institutional domains, and (d) complementation between societal sectors.  

The primary objective of the project was to generate an empirical model for community-based coastal resource management using a multi-sectoral approach. The core activities of the project include: a scientific collection of data on ecology, culture and socio-economics; the monitoring of the flow of coastal resources; the establishment of sustainable fish farms and community-based sustainable tourism activities as complementary livelihood for coastal inhabitants; and finally, environmental education and training in coastal resources management. Involving national and local institutions, the project centered on coastal and indigenous community development (see figure I.1).


Figure I.1 Flow chart of the Coastal Resource Management and Sustainable Tourism
Project in Ulugan Bay

The project activities have contributed in:

But how did this come about? To answer this question, we need to cull out some specific lessons from the scientific, social, educational, economic, cultural, and institutional aspects of the project.

What was supposed to happen?
What did actually happen?
How can we enhance what went right?
How can we improve on what went wrong? 

Lessons remain simply lessons if no practical learning is derived from them. In the context of this report, the lessons learned from the implementation of the project activities are summarized and proposed as wise practices for the sustainable development of Ulugan Bay. While there are a number of wise practices identified during the project implementation, it is the intention of this report to focus on those that have direct policy implications and impacts with wider (local and national) application. The structural framework of these wise practices hinges on three perspectives:

  1. Examining the project at three levels: 1) Local level (where field operations were carried out); 2) City Government level (where policies are made); 3) National and International level.
  2. Considering this structure in both the short-term (i.e. the coastal villagers operating a cooperative) and the long-term (i.e. capacity building for local institutions).
  3. Focusing the approach at the ecosystem level.

From the lessons learned, strategies are also recommended and these become the subject of the policy guidelines to be formulated. These strategies are designed to fit into the current governmental structure, and they follow an “ecosystemic” approach in order to emphasize the importance of considering all the interconnections among all the compartments (both natural and human) of the coastal ecosystem. 

Obviously, many actions need to be undertaken simultaneously, but the following strategies are restricted to those that the project partners learned from the implementation of the project. While not all of them are entirely new, they are innovative since they adhere to recent paradigms for coastal zone management. Nowadays these new paradigms are emerging from worldwide discussions, lessons from the past, increasing attention to the coastal environment, and from a more careful analysis of signals indicating that major and urgent actions still need to be taken (Box I.2).

BOX I.2. The recent paradigm shift  

The current environmental scenario in the Philippines dictates the need for a reappraisal of existing paradigms and/or a shift to new and more relevant or appropriate ones. In the broader context, the ingredients of such a shift have been made clear by an Internal Assessment of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources in 1994. They declared that:  

Poverty must be eradicated through community movements and people empowerment; the economy must be resuscitated through the broad-based provision of access to and mobilization of resources and investments for higher value, higher multiplier and higher efficiency goods and services; the environment must be rehabilitated and sustainably managed; and the government machinery must be reoriented and restructures towards more democratic, more responsive, people-based, and area-oriented approaches of realizing sustainable development
(Foundation for Rural Economic Enterprise and Development, Inc. 1994. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Internal Assessment: Gearing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Organization for Sustainable Development. Philippines. 73 p.)

  • The conventionally perceived economic growth is no longer tenable as the unquestioned objective of economic development policy. The old concept of growth (‘throughput growth’) with its reliance on an ever-increasing throughput of energy and other natural materials, cannot be sustained, and must yield to an imaginative pursuit of economic ends that are less resource intensive (Goodland, R., H.E. Daly, S. El Serafy and B. von Droste (eds.). 1992. Environmentally sustainable economic development: Building on Brundtland. Belgium: UNESCO.). Instead, we should recognize and accept the new paradigm of economic development where natural resources are sustainably used over a long timeframe (intergenerational equity) and where benefits hit the mass base of marginal coastal populations;
  • Economic logic tells us that we should maximize the productivity of the scarcest (limiting) factor, as well as, try to increase its supply (Daly, H.E. and J. Cobb. 1989. For the common good: redirecting the economy towards community, environment, and a sustainable future. Boston: Beacon Press. 482 pp.). This means that economic policy should be designed to increase the productivity of natural capital (natural resources) and its total amount, rather than to increase the productivity of human-made capital and its accumulation;
  • Natural capital and human-made capital are complements, rather than substitutes (Daly, H.E. and J. Cobb. 1989. For the common good: redirecting the economy towards community, environment, and a sustainable future. Boston: Beacon Press. 482 pp.). The switch from human-made to natural capital, as the limiting factor is a function of the increasing scale of the human presence. Investment must shift from human-made capital accumulation towards natural capital preservation and restoration.
  • In conflicts between biophysical and political realities, the latter must eventually give ground (Goodland, R., H.E. Daly, S. El Serafy and B. von Droste (eds.). 1992. Environmentally sustainable economic development: Building on Brundtland. Belgium: UNESCO.). The environment will transit to sustainability: the choice is between society planning for an orderly transition, or letting physical limits and environmental damage dictate the timing and course of the transition;
  • The newly developing sectors of society need to find a different pathway, shaping their own models of development that bypass the ruinous, resource depleting cycle the older more developed sectors went through. The essential fuels of the transition to sustainability – capital and technology – are scare in these developing sectors, so it is imperative for them to optimize the use of these resources in ways that also take advantage of their main resource: people.
  • Re-processing of the ability of scientists to move away from the objectivity and rationality of science into the more subjective roles of advocacy and policy-making. Nevertheless, there is a prevailing ‘push’ for scientists to perform their role in information dissemination, as well as, to train more future scientists who would actively take part in decision-making processes;
  • Preservation of the functional integrity of resource systems through integrated and holistic approaches. The natural system maintains itself through the close interaction of various key processes in attaining a stage of ecological equilibrium. To ensure the systemic flow of goods and services from the resource systems, human activity should be regulated within the upper biological limits beyond which adverse ecological changes occur and the resource systems fail to maintain normal functions (carrying capacity). Unfortunately, scientists have yet to provide such an index. But in the absence of such values, managers must carefully balance environmental protection with the realities of human needs and expectations. Until then resource managers must use expert judgment and common sense as their guide.

The strategies here proposed are clustered under five headings: research and economic analysis, local community participation, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral approach, enforcement of laws, exchange of experiences. 

  1. Gather high quality data and communicate the results to policy makers  

The project tells us that high quality information and data obtained through scientific research, upgraded extension materials, and increased public support through communication of the results are crucial for the correct coastal zone management practice. The purpose is primarily to reach policy and decision-makers with adequate and correct information as bases for decisions.  

It is essential that research policy is developed and research management improved to upgrade the information generation and delivery systems to the grassroots. Successful conservation and development depends on strengthening the capacity of local, national and international institutions to collect scientific data/information and to disseminate them in an appropriate way to both policy makers and the general public. This is effective only if the research explores and refines processes that involve local communities and institutions. Research on indigenous culture should also be strengthened so that optimal use can be made of traditional knowledge.  

Whenever possible, the work undertaken should be field-orientated and should cover both technical and social aspects. Particular attention should be paid to:

  1. Resource systems and ecological processes (i.e. destruction of coastal areas threaten the breeding and nursery habitats of many ecologically and commercially important species).
  2. Physical and biological processes (i.e. water quality and nutrient fluxes) and their relation to land use and climate.
  3. Appropriate technologies for protection, conservation and sustainable use.
  4. Economic analysis to demonstrate the value of natural coastal resources.
  5. The need to integrate conservation and development by improving methods and approaches for the management and protection of coastal and marine environments (especially through the development and refinement of sustainable-use systems and integrated approaches).
  1. Enhance local community participation

The project is telling us that coastal habitats can best be managed and protected by the local communities as they possess profound knowledge of the environment and are the key users of its resources. This is the fundamental principle of community-based management. A strong political will is needed from local institutions to likewise provide economic incentives to sustain the community efforts. In Ulugan Bay the City Government is providing this important support. 

We realized that resources management and tourism in Ulugan Bay deal with resource systems (i.e. interactions between the resource and its user). A prerequisite for the integrated management of the bay is the acceptance of the management plan by the National, Provincial and Local Government, and its support by all the stakeholders in coastal areas (balance between the top-down legislative authorities and the bottom-up community involvement approach). the planning phase of the project started with consultations at National-Provincial-Local level (Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, Department of Tourism, National Economic and Development Authority, UNESCO National Commission for the Philippines, Palawan Provincial Government, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, and Puerto Princesa City Government) and at Community level (five Barangays and Indigenous Communities of Cabayugan and Kayasan, and Local non-government organizations).  

After assistance in the planning exercise, the community should be assisted in the implementation phase. This is often not the case. Attention is required for community confidence building, technical training for drafting legislative inputs to support the management plan, as well as, the training for the joint community and government implementation of the plans. Joint planning and implementation through the stakeholders and legislated agencies fosters a joint stewardship of the coastal resources within the community and government services.  

The project implementation confirms the need of enhancing local community participation in coastal environment conservation both directly (e.g. community patrol) and indirectly (e.g. enhancing the capacity of the local community in the sustainable uses of coastal resources with associate economic benefit. It is also important to emphasize the active involvement of the coastal communities at the earliest stages of planning and management. The actual implementation of resource management has to be carried out at community level. Not only does this ensure the active participation of the community but it also makes use of the fact that local and indigenous communities often possess substantial accumulated specific knowledge on how best to manage resources. Management should make maximum use of this traditional knowledge. 

There is also a need to study local and indigenous management structures, experiences and socio-cultural values (with specific attention to gender issues), in order to understand the potentials of the communities, their true demands, and to ensure their full commitment. Very little is known about the way in which indigenous experiences offer potential and can be applied more widely both to support and implement development programs. Some projects have failed because of insufficient understanding by planners of the socio-economic determinants (i.e. local traditions, knowledge-base and socio-cultural values of people) or because no use was made of the opportunities offered by proven indigenous practices. 

The project confirms that the most promising approaches to coastal and marine conservation involve an adaptive management scheme at the municipal level, where community-based development specialists, cross-trained in environmental and natural resource monitoring, assist the municipality in the development of regulations for local community development (McManus, J.W. 1988. Coral reefs of the ASEAN region: status and management. Ambio 17(3): 189-193).  

  1. Adopt an interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral approach at all levels

New problems are becoming increasingly complex and demand inter-sectoral coordination. At present, responsibilities for policy-making and implementation are generally dispersed among several agencies or offices, consequently, it is not clear to which agency or office certain mandates are allocated. The result is an overlap in competence. Hence, when something goes wrong, no specific agency can be pinpointed to resolve the issue and the entire sector suffers. Integrated management seeks to reduce the social costs associated with sectoral activities accruing both inside and across sectors (Scura, L.A.F., T.-E. Chua, M. Pido and J. Paw. (In press). Lessons from integrated costal zone management: the ASEAN experience. In: T.-E. Chua and L.A.F. Scura (eds.), Integrative framework and methods for coastal area management. ICLARM conference Proceedings). Towards the 1990s, after decades of disciplinary research, we have begun to move into a multidisciplinary mode, with various disciplines working separetly on the same issues. To resolve the complex environmental and developmental problems we now face, an interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral approach is instead needed wherein disciplines and different sectors of society work cooperatively on the same issues.  

The project enhanced this interdisciplinary approach in Ulugan Bay by assisting local groups in defining poilcies in an integrated way, providing inter-sectoral training and managerial support, and synthesizing integrated guidelines. The Master Plan for Community Based Sustainable Tourism developed and implemented during the project is a good example. It was built on the local communities’ expectations taking into account the results of all the studies, researches and consultations. The studies ranged from ecology to social science, from satellite imagery analysis to the role of mangroves in the bay’s productivity, from local community participatory appraisal to national institution’s consultations. Bringing together different local institutions in developing the Master Plan, the project also enhanced interdiscipliarity at the level of local institutions. The City Council Resolution adopting the Master Plan for Ulugan Bay was a clear sign of the commitment of the Local Government to sustainable development and to the interdisciplinary approach. The implementation of the First Phase of the Master Plan was a successful initiative to put interdisciplinarity into practice. 

  1. Enforce the laws and regulations

Effective enforcement of laws through local community participation, is indeed a crucial instrument for coastal area protection and management. Through training in ecology and paralegal aspects, the project succeeded in enhancing local community involvement in the protection of their coastal resources. The case of the illegal fishing vessel filed in court by a local community in Ulugan Bay and the illegal hunter arrested with the assistance of the indigenous community in the national park are two examples of the success of the project regarding this strategy.

  1. Stimulate the exchange of experiences

Given the largely similar issues faced by coastal communities all around the world, more effort should be invested to encourage the exchange of experiences and successful examples and models. The UNESCO-CSI internet-based forum on ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development (user name = csi, password = wise)’ is an instrument to this end. Wise practices for coastal zone management are discussed and shared among scientists, managers, policy makers and local communities from different parts of the world. Participants of the Ulugan Bay project actively took part in this discussion sharing their experiences and results.    

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization / United Nations Development Program / Puerto Princesa City Project project is providing us with lessons that could guide similar efforts in other coastal areas. But it also tells us that in the effort, there are tremendous sources of uncertainties, which pose as challenges to set actions. Indeed the project demonstrates that we are moving into the proper mode – the inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral mode – wherein disciplines and societal sectors work cooperatively on the same issues.  

In this volume we report a critical analysis of all the activities implemented during the project: Training and Capacity Building (Chapter 1); Community-based Sustainable Tourism (Chapter 2); Sustainable Mariculture (Chapter 3); Fisheries Database (Chapter 4) and an empirical model for the integrated management of Ulugan Bay. The empirical model presents a conceptual framework and describes a multi-scalar and multi-hierarchical approach for community-based coastal management. It also summarizes available information on the stakeholders of Ulugan Bay and on the legal and institutional context (Chapter5). 

Under the same series Coastal Resource Management, Ulugan Bay, Palawan Island, the Philippines, Volume I: Ecology, Culture and Socio-economics contains results and findings from the studies and campaigns carried out in the context of the project: 1) ecological assessments of coastal resources; 2) studies on the use of traditional resources and on the culture of the indigenous communities; 3) socio-economic profiles and assessments of the potential for sustainable tourism.  

Volume II: Master Plan for Community Based Eco-tourism describes recommendations for the initiation, development and management of Community Based Eco-tourism activities in Ulugan Bay. The Master Plan, which operates at micro-, meso- and macro-levels, aims to set-up a strategy capable of ‘evolving’ directly from the planning phase into subsequent implementation, management and monitoring phases. In line with the community-based approach, the plan adopts a ‘bottom-up’ strategy, empowering communities through participatory methods.  

BOX I.3. Special Thanks  

The Project Team wish to acknowledge with grateful appreciation, the support that Mayor and Mrs. Edward S. Hagedorn together with his staff has given for the successful implementation of the project. We would like also to express our thanks for all the support given to the project during all the field activities in Ulugan Bay and in Rita Island.  

Furthermore, we would also like to thank, for their continued suport for this undertaking, the leadership of the City Government of Puerto Princesa as well as the City Agriculture Office under Ms. Melissa U. Macasaet, and her staff, Ms. Tutu B. Almonte, Mr. Roy Magbanua, Ms. Glenda Gol-lod and Mr. Daniel Cajilo, the City Tourism Office under Ms. Edna Darjuan and her staff Ms. Melinda Mohammed and Mr. Eduardo Nale and the National Park authorities under Mr. James Mendoza and the logistic support of both Naval forces West (NAVFORWEST) and Western Command (WESCOM).    

It was a very deep honor for the UNESCO Jakarta Office, on behalf of the project team, to receive the Mayor’s Award 2001 in recognition of the productive collaboration between UNESCO-UNDP and the Puerto Princesa City Government. During the last five years UNESCO and the Puerto Princesa City Government have been working together on different important issues such as the nomination of Puerto Princesa City Subterranean River National Park as a World Heritage Site and on the sustainable development and protection of a unique bay, Ulugan Bay. UNESCO-UNDP were able to work in Ulugan Bay only thanks to the close collaboration and the willingness of the Puerto Pricesa City Government, the commitment of the Mayor and the splendid people of Ulugan Bay. The project was very successful and is now an example that could be followed and replicated in other areas in the Philippines and the Region.  


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