Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Sea, land and people: finding the right balance By the year 2010, 80 per cent of the world's
population will live within 100 km of the shore.
Coastal areas are exceptionally productive environments, rich in natural resources, biological diversity and potential for commercial activity. In addition to fish, salt and minerals, marine resources include complex ecosystems like mangroves, coral reefs, estuaries and wetlands. But coastal areas - in Africa as elsewhere - are increasingly vulnerable to stress from both human activities and the forces of nature. In the face of conflicting uses of coastal regions, the best solutions often come from taking an integrated management approach.
Already some 60 per cent of the world's population lives in the coastal belt, and by the year 2010, some 80 per cent will live within 100 km of the shore. Three-quarters of the earth's megacities are located next to the sea. Population pressures, combined with natural processes, expose these environments to multiple forms of pollution, erosion and sea-level change. Along the Gulf of Benin, for instance, large stretches have been washed away, carrying with them villages, sacred sites, all-weather roads, tourist hotels and resorts. Along the east coast, beaches in the vicinity of Dar es Salaam, Mombasa and Malindi have also receded. Coral reefs are increasingly vulnerable to pollution and tourists

In coastal areas an integrated approach is needed to achieve development without destruction of the resource base

Until the end of 1995, UNESCO's Coastal Marine Project (COMAR) worked in nearly all African coastal states to develop scientific and management capacity. The first all-continent mangrove inventory was published in 1993. That same year, African specialists joined a global network for coastal remote-sensing and contributed to the development of distance-learning modules in this domain.

Extract from: Voices, values and development: reinventing Africa south of the Sahara, UNESCO, 1996

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