Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands

(1998 - 1999)

Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Island States
Arab States and Mediterranean regions
Asian Region
Caribbean and Pacific Regions
South and Central America
Nordic-Baltic Region

Global level
Constraints and lessons learned

Back to table of contents The Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI) intitiative is operationalising the Organisation’s primary comparative advantage: its capacity for integrated action involving Natural and Social Sciences, Culture, Education and Communication. Over 20 inter-sectoral pilot projects have been established involving some 50 countries, uniting decision-makers, local communities, cultural heritage experts and scientists. One additional UNESCO Chair in Integrated Coastal Management and Sustainable Development has been launched (Philippines) and four others initiated (India, Latvia, Papua New Guinea, Uruguay) to provide interdisciplinary training and capacity-building for environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and culturally appropriate development in coasts and small islands. From project and chair activities, a first set of example wise practices has been generated and discussed via the "Virtual Forum".
Back to table of contents In Africa and the western Indian Ocean Island States, communication and education strategies for sustainable coastal development, including through UNESCO Chairs, are the major foci. A strategy for the above has been developed in co-operation with the Education and Communication Sectors and the Dakar, Lagos, Maputo, Nairobi and Pretoria Offices, through the Pan-African Conference on Sustainable Integrated Coastal Management (PACSICOM, July '98). Implementation has begun with new pilot projects established in Lagos (Nigeria) addressing urban flood control with input from the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), and in Maputaland on developing sustainable agro-ecosystems in coastal South Africa and Mozambique, as well as land-locked Swaziland. The Dakar Chair (Senegal) enlarged its geographical coverage to include students from West Africa (Mauritania, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire) and continued its work, in co-operation with the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme, Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, IHP and the Dakar Office, on sustainable livelihoods for peri-urban coastal areas. With support from MOST, co-operation on eco-tourism was also established with the UNESCO Chair at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain).
Back to table of contents In the Arab States and Mediterranean regions, intersectoral pilot projects concerning sustainable human development in historic coastal cities are the major focus. Within the MOST-IHP-CSI Urban Development and Freshwater Resources: Small Historic Coastal Cities project, co-operation has been fostered among a network of some twenty towns in order to develop integrated solutions to shared problems such as chronic freshwater shortage, degradation of cultural heritage and rapid socio-economic transformation (Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, France, Italy, Spain and Field Offices in the above countries). In the Adriatic region (Croatia), the project made a considerable advancement in elaborating, with the Venice Office, general guidelines for the sustainable development of selected coastal cities. Within the Alexandria (Egypt) pilot project, the conservation and development of the on-shore Citadel, the underwater Pharos site and the adjacent urban area has been advanced with international expertise confirming the feasibility of an underwater archaeological park and advocating world heritage status, in co-operation with IHP, the Earth Sciences Division, the World Heritage Centre (WHC), Sector for Culture and the Cairo Office. To help realise these goals, land-based sources of pollution that deface the heritage sites have been evaluated in co-operation with IHP and solutions proposed.
Back to table of contents In the Asian region, the impact of globalisation on coastal communities and assessments of natural and human environments were pursued. To reconcile environment conservation and human development objectives, a project is underway in co-operation with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), its Office for the Western Pacific, the Culture Sector and the Bangkok Office, to strengthen partnership and dialogue between government agencies and indigenous Moken communities living within a national park and future world heritage site (Thailand). An ecologist and an anthropologist, jointly occupy the interdisciplinary UNESCO Chair recently established in the Philippines. The chairholders and their students have developed, with United Nations Development Programme support and in conjunction with MAB and the Jakarta Office, coastal resource monitoring and impact assessment protocols, as well as socio-economic profiles, for the Ulugan Bay pilot project site. Along with MOST, MAB, IOC and the Jakarta Office, alternative income generating activities and environmental education campaigns were undertaken in the Seribu Islands, and a community-based waste management centre was established in the Kapuk Muara coastal area (Indonesia) in the framework of the Jakarta Bay pilot project. An assessment of impacts from the rapidly growing ship-breaking industry in Gujarat (India) has been initiated with IHP and the New Delhi Office, focusing on the transformation of local communities and the coastal environment.
Back to table of contents In the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean and Pacific Regions, human development for sustainable island living, poverty alleviation, planning for changing coastlines and freshwater security are the major foci. In the Caribbean, two new pilot activities were launched: with the Communication Sector and the Kingston Office on creating environmental videos and with the Education Sector (Associated Schools) and the Port of Spain Office on coastal observation and clean-up campaigns for secondary schools. Both are carried out as part of the regional project Planning for Coastline Change. This project involves national planning agencies and stakeholders in Antigua-Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St.Kitts-Nevis, St.Lucia, St.Vincent & the Grenadines, Turks & Caicos Islands, and has received financial support from the Caribbean Development Bank. In the Gulf of Gonave pilot project (Haiti), a survey of the ecological knowledge held by local fishers has provided the basis for a Creole guidebook on sustainable resource use. In Jamaica, jointly with MAB, data collected on fisher harvesting strategies and socio-economic baselines are contributing to the elaboration of a management plan for the recently declared Portland Bight protected area. Local fisher associations in both Haiti and Jamaica have been strengthened, with the Port-au-Prince and Kingston Offices, including through bilateral exchange visits to build awareness of shared environmental and social concerns. In the Pacific, pilot projects have now been launched in Papua New Guinea with the University of Papua New Guinea, the MOST project on Growing Up in Cities for Children and Youth, the Apia Office and local Associated Schools. One project addresses the social and environmental problems facing the Motu-Koitabu peoples whose villages are increasingly encapsulated within the rapidly-expanding Port Moresby urban area. The other establishes key social, cultural and ecological baselines needed for community-based development in the Moripi Cultural Area. In the Sanaapu-Sataoa pilot project (Samoa), activities have been launched with the Education Sector and the Apia Office, to integrate indigenous and scientific knowledge into local environmental management practice, and to enhance environmental education curricula in local Associated Schools.
Back to table of contents In South and Central America, elucidating coastal ecosystem functions and services is the major focus in co-operation with IOC, MAB and the Montevideo Office. As contribution to the ECOPLATA project (supported by the International Development Research Centre-Canada), an information and consultation system on the biodiversity of the Rio de la Plata and adjacent waters is under development and a first CD-ROM has been issued. In northeastern Brazil, a partnership has been established with the interdisciplinary Programme for Coastal Studies of the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi (MPEG) in Belem. As a first collaborative action, a publication is being prepared summarising natural and social science research by MPEG and its partners. The Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Project (CARICOMP) has begun to address, more directly, human-environment interactions with respect to coral reef, sea-grass and mangrove ecosystems.
Back to table of contents In the Nordic-Baltic region, a network on Sustainable Development of Coastal Resources was established involving UNESCO's five intergovernmental/international scientific undertakings and the National Commissions of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, and links were made with the Mediterranean coastal cities network. As part of the network, a UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Human Development in Coastal Regions has been elaborated at the University of Riga, following the memorandum of understanding between Latvia and UNESCO. In co-operation with the Sectors for Culture and Education (Associated Schools), an exhibit on sustainable living in coastal regions has been elaborated for presentation at the Museum of the World Ocean in Kaliningrad (Russia) and subsequent travel to other countries in the Baltic Region.
Back to table of contents At the global level, example ‘wise practices’ for sustainable coastal development have been formulated and compiled on the basis of lessons learned from intersectoral pilot projects and associated UNESCO Chairs. Further conceptual development is ongoing at local, regional and global levels through Web-based discussion groups, as well as face-to-face workshops. Through a thematic session on 'traditional ecological knowledge', CSI provided a strongly intersectoral component to the World Conference on Science. Information on pilot project and Chair activities has been disseminated through the CSI website. Two free-of-charge publication series have been continued (six issues published since end 1997) and a UNESCO Press sales series entitled Coastal Management Sourcebooks launched (one issue published; second issue in press).
Back to table of contents Constraints and lessons learned: Development of UNESCO Chairs has been slower than expected, in part due to the additional time required for partner institutions to accept novel interdisciplinary arrangements that do not conform with existing disciplinary structures. Bringing together stakeholders who are not accustomed to co-operate has been a particular challenge for pilot project development, but steady progress has nevertheless been made. In the framework of the World Science Conference, for example, intersectoral issues such as 'traditional ecological knowledge' encountered scepticism from some scientists, but keen interest was generated among country delegations that recognised its significance for local communities and for attaining development goals. While the demand for interdisciplinary training is on the rise, graduates of the intersectoral Dakar Chair have experienced difficulties in finding jobs.

The virtual forum on 'wise coastal practices' for sustainable human development has worked most effectively after its establishment as a multi-lingual Web-based discussion group. For participants who did not have easy web access, circulating contributions via e-mail proved to be a satisfactory manner to ensure their continued involvement. By providing counterparts in Field Offices and Member States with easy-access to descriptions of existing projects and chairs, as well as example 'wise practices', the task of establishing new intersectoral initiatives has been greatly facilitated. Funding continued to be a contributing factor to success, with certain pilots projects and UNESCO Chairs progressing quickly, having attracted extrabudgetary and associated funding support, and others suffering delays due to unanticipated funding cuts.

For further information: csi@unesco.org

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