Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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CSI info 4


On the eve of the 21st century, some 60% of the world's population lives within 60km of the sea, and this figure is likely to rise to 75% by the year 2025. Of the world's 23 megacities, 16 are in the coastal belt. Coasts have always served as cross-roads for peoples of many origins, and as a result these areas harbour intricate social and cultural mosaics. As for their ecological systems, the latter are among the most diverse, complex and productive on Earth. notwithstanding this enormous socio-cultural and ecological wealth, many coastal areas have become flashpoints for conflict as a result of an ever increasing demand for limited resources.

Addressing the variety of problems facing coastal regions and small islands requires transdisciplinary research and the careful formulation of policies for integrated action towards improved management of coastal resources. The UNESCO endeavour, 'Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands' (CSI), was launched in 1996 in response to these needs. Its goal is to serve as a platform for cross-sectoral action in order to assist Member States towards environmentally sound, socially equitable and culturally appropriate development in the regions concerned. The CSI info series offers an informal vehicle to disseminate pertinent information to managers and others in their search for solutions to coastal region and small island problems.

This volume contains guidelines for builders and other stakeholders, addressing the important aspect of coastal erosion. Coastlines, and beaches in particular, are dynamic fast-changing systems which are vitally important to the tourism-orientated economies of the smaller Eastern Caribbean Islands. The prudent use of coastal development setbacks, which establish a safe distance between the upper limit of wave action and new development, provides for beach conservation, reduction of erosion as well as improved vistas, access and privacy for beach users and property owners. These guidelines are based on various shoreline types and follow a methodology developed by the project entitled "Coast and Beach Stability in the Lesser Antilles" (COSALC).

  This restaurant is a victim of coastline retreat.
Construction setbacks should take adequate
account of such potential encroachment of the sea.
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