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

Coasts and small islands: Targets for integrated efforts

Coasts and small islands:
Targets for integrated efforts

A new UNESCO endeavour was launched, on 1 January 1996, for the "Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands" (CSI). The CSI Project's goal is to assist Member States towards integrated coastal planning and management by advancing knowledge, promoting the application of research results and related capacity building.

A holistic approach
CSI is part of the Organization's response to calls for cross-sectoral, integrated approaches to environmental problems. Such calls stem particularly from the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, June 1992). They have been repeated many times, notably in the Programme of Action of the UN Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS, Barbados, April-May 1994).
In 1995 interdisciplinary discussions and preparatory work in the Organization's Secretariat led to the elaboration of a framework of ideas which, in turn, were supported in a statement issued jointly by the Chairpersons of UNESCO's five international/intergovernmental undertakings in the environmental and social sciences: IOC, MAB, MOST, IHP, and IGCP. (*) Shortly thereafter, the Project was voted into existence at the 28th Session of the UNESCO General Conference (Paris, 25 October - 16 November 1995).

In this context, several chapters of UNCED's Agenda 21 are relevant, such as: (8) "integrating environment and development in decision-making"; (17) "protection of the oceans, all kinds of seas, including enclosed and semi-enclosed areas, and coastal areas, and the protection, rational use and development of their living resources"; (35) "science for sustainable development"; and (36) "promoting education, public awareness and training". Chapter 17 includes relevant programme areas concerning: (i) integrated management and sustainable development of coastal and marine areas, including exclusive economic zones; (ii) sustainable use and conservation of marine living resources under national jurisdiction; and (iii) sustainable development of small islands. The 1994 Barbados conference (see para. 2) approved a more detailed programme for small island developing states. CSI will address issues in several of these domains.

Coastal management is now a key task facing maritime nations. Some of the technical and environmental issues to be considered include: (i) loss of biodiversity, (ii) environmental pollution and degradation, (iii) depletion of renewable and non-renewable natural resources and (iv) natural disaster reduction. In addition, there are many social, economic and cultural factors to be considered in arriving at solutions.

CSI - rationale and objectives
Four pilot projects are being developed at sub-regional level, with the overall objective of designing scientific guidelines and methods for the integrated planning and management of coastal regions and small islands towards sustainable development. The projects aim at securing the effective cooperation among environmental and social specialists, local stakeholders (people actually living in these areas or having vested interests there), educators and others concerned with the problems.

The projects concern:

At present, the pilot projects focus, respectively, on sites in the Pacific island countries, East Africa, South-East Asia, and Caribbean regions. Each pilot project supports activities in three areas: (i) cultural and socio-economic dimensions, including traditional management practices; (ii) technical and scientific analyses; and (iii) training, community education and public awareness.

Actions will be taken jointly by UNESCO programmes in different sectors, in cooperation with other bodies. With Member States they will study the various problems and come up with recommended guidelines and policies. UNESCO's field offices will play an important role in this process.

What about other coasts and islands?
As indicated above, the pilot projects necessarily focus on specific regions. Other areas will be involved on a worldwide basis where particular situations can be addressed in a manner allowing progress towards one of the pilot-project objectives, as a model or example.

The CSI programme is currently in its initial development. It is expected that the materials and guidelines emanating from the various activities, to be widely disseminated, will have a catalysing or carry-on effect towards enhancing the choices that may pertain in the case of similar problems in other geographical areas.

The focal point for these activities is:
UNESCO-CSI, 1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris cedex 15, France; fax: (33-1) 4783 5940; e-mail: csi@unesco.orgemail


Priority - Africa

A United Nations System-wide special initiative on Africa dealing with its socio-economic plight, is being launched by relevant UN agencies (primarily and formally by the UN Secretary General and others on 15 March 1996). On its part, UNESCO concentrates much effort in this direction. For example, in the domain of capacity building for the enhancement of coastal management, support is provided for research and training workshops, field studies and publication of results.

Wide-ranging concerns of CSI partners

Below are short contributions from relevant units in various sectors, in UNESCO and outside, which collaborate in the direction of the CSI effort. The objective here is not necessarily to report on CSI activities per se, but to elicit the flavour and breadth of the Project's fields of interest and a few concerns of some of the partners.

Culture and environment in mangrove management
As part of the UN World Decade for Cultural Development (WDCD), networks have been established in South and South-East Asia which bring together members of NGOs, government officials, academics and community representatives to address the interlinked themes of the "Cultural Context of Natural Resource Management" and the "Cultural Dimension of Development in Asia". Representatives from several countries of the region have met to debate this new perspective, to exchange experiences and to share possible solutions.
One major issue addressed by the network has been the rapid depletion of coastal mangrove forests throughout much of South-East Asia. Over the last thirty years, large portions of coastline have been denuded of mangrove forests due to the large-scale cutting of wood for charcoal production and the rapid expansion of intensive shrimp farming. Network participants are investigating a community forestry approach to mangrove management, applying participatory action research methods to elicit local support, unveil local solutions and reinstate traditional management practices.
Source: Culture Sector (CLT/DEC), UNESCO.

Integrated Coastal Zone Management: A practical guide
In the domain of ICZM, most countries are now trying to work out a rational policy to combine "environment and development", a goal difficult to achieve in view of potentially conflicting interests and the lack of an integrated vision of coastal phenomena. The elaboration of a policy in this area implies the participation of all those who are directly and indirectly involved in decision making on CZM.
As most conflicts arise from the lack of objective information, the task of scientists is to provide decision makers with complete and impartial evaluations on the physical and biological complexity of the coastal zone as well as on the changes due to human activities.
In this context, a multidisciplinary working group was set up in France as part of the UNESCO-IOC effort to move towards a more rational approach to the problem. It is a response to the joint statement of the chairpersons of the five intergovernmental or international programmes of UNESCO (mentioned in the preceding article). The aim is to define basic criteria for an adequate understanding of the interaction of physical, biological, demographic and other factors. The working group includes representatives from certain of France's research agencies, such as IFREMER, ORSTOM, BRGM, as well as some French universities.
Source: IOC of UNESCO

People and Plants
The UNESCO Office in Apia (Samoa) has started, in collaboration with the University of the South Pacific, pilot activities on community-based protection of endangered culturally important plants in the Pacific islands. These are building the Pacific network for the global WWF-UNESCO (MAB)- Kew "People and Plants" initiative. The network promotes the protection, enhancement and sustainable use of such plants, which communities value and depend on. It includes ethnobotanical surveys of local communities, preparation of lists of endangered plants, development of protection/rehabilitation strategies, awareness activities, and preparation of simple educational materials. The network will work with governments and NGOs to protect Pacific plants.
Source: UNESCO Office, Apia.

Training environmentalists
A ten-day workshop on underwater videography (as a tool for scientific research and for heightening public awareness) for coastal environmentalists was organized in 1995 jointly by UNESCO and other bodies in Jamaica. Trainees, who had never before held a video camera, were given hands-on training which resulted in their production of three short underwater videos on various topics. An article on this activity was included in the October 1995 issue of the UNESCO Caribbean Newsletter, published by the Organization's Office in Kingston.
Source: Communication Division CII/COM), UNESCO

Satellite Photo This computer-enhanced SPOT image shows the Saloum Estuary (centre/right) and Sangomar Point (upper left).
Green = mangroves
Blue = water and flooded areas
Yellow = uncovered sand
Such imagery is used as a coastal research tool by African scientists.
Source: E. S. Diop (Senegal) and H. Chevillote (France).

From: IMS Newsletter no. 77 (mid-96)

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