Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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November the 25th was dedicated to work and the presentation of projects to the different Working Groups. The sessions were distributed according to the following themes:

Working Group 1 : Management of water resources in the coastal zone
Working Group 2 :
Impact and consequences of coastal erosion
Working Group 3 :
Socio-architectural revitalization of the historic urban fabric
Working Groups 4 and 5:
Socio-economic activities and tourism and: An integrated approach to development

A group of recommendations and concrete proposals on the future of the town of Essaouira and on the identification of inter-town partnerships was drafted at the end of each Working Group session.

A number of recommendations and specific supplementary actions were drawn up at the second session of the Project Steering Committee, held at UNESCO, Paris, 30-31 March 1998. This meeting allowed those responsible for the project, the members of the Steering Committee, the experts who took part in the seminar in Essaouira, and representatives of Alghero and Saint-Malo, the two towns in partnership with Essaouira, to assess the development of the project and to determine a frame-work and working methods for the various activities underway.

6.1 Working group 1 : Management of Water Resources in the Coastal Zone

Chairman: Mr. Abdelaziz El Hebil, Director of the Hydraulic Zone of Tensift
Rapporteurs: Professor Giovanni Barrocu, University of Cagliari, Representative of the Italian Committee of the IHP
  Dr. Kees R. Menardi, Netherlands National Institute of Public Health and Environment
UNESCO Follow-up: Alice Aureli, International Hydrological Programme

General Recommendations

In the framework of the recommendations of the conferences of Rio 92 and Istanbul 96, Working Group 1 recommends, above all:

  1. The application of an integrated management of water resources as a working methodology in the Essaouira region. The participants recommended considering the city in the context of its natural environment so as to integrate management of the historical urban environment into that of the natural resources on which the social and economic development of Essaouira depends. Accent was particularly placed on the integrated management of surface water resources, subterranean water resources, treatment of waste water and the impact of liquid discharges into the sea.
  2. The participation of the local community and the civil society in decision-making. Given the sustained methodological effort through the UNESCO project, the participants in Working Group 1 stressed the importance of the participation of the local population and civil society in decision-making. The experience of Saint-Malo in this regard was considered as being of great interest, and it was suggested that it could be shared with Essaouira and other cities in a spirit of partnership within the network of small coastal cities created during this seminar.

Following the general recommendations stated above, the Working Group then decided that certain urgent priority actions were necessary:

For the technician training programme, the following themes were considered:

To make such projects operational, it is necessary to analyse specifically the real possibilities for financing. In this regard, UNESCO could help Essaouira's partner cities to present proposals for the various projects to the European Community, bilateral co-operation agencies, and various other agencies and development banks.

The seminar judged it necessary to define the work tools and methods that would ensure the integration of the management of the city with that of the natural resources available. The development of an integrated approach methodology for the historical coastal cities of Europe and the Mediterranean was considered to be the main component of the project now underway. The participants in the Working Group 1 called on UNESCO to support the execution of the following studies, which were also considered to be of equal priority:

Considering the amount of data available in Essaouira, Working Group 1 recommended, as suggested by the Monographs on the water resources, prepared by the Ministry of Public Works, the collection of all existing and supplementary data, with a view to elaboration of a rigorous operational programme for the adequate management of the water resources.

The rehabilitation of the drinking-water supply network and the wastewater drainage system in the old town is therefore considered to be a leading priority or of equal importance with the building and historical monument rehabilitation measures and the implementation of new money-making activities.

Several proposals and offers were made by the towns present at the Working Group 1. These proposals will be the subject of discussions between the Essaouira authorities, the project technicians and the representatives of the coastal towns. These proposals were submitted to UNESCO for transmission to the competent authorities for the preparation of possible bilateral agreements.

Following the second session of the Steering Committee, the following proposals were made:

6.2 Working group 2: Impact and Consequences of Coastal Erosion

Chairman: Mr. Abdelslam Messoudi, Director of Operations of the Port of Mohammedia
Rapporteurs: Professor Wolfgang Rosenthal, Oceanographer, Member of the UNESCO project Steering Committee
  Professor Arno Schmid, President of IFLA (International Federation of Landscape Architects)
UNESCO Follow-up: Dirk Troost, Chief CSI

General Recommendations

In the framework of the UNESCO project Urban Development and Freshwater Resources: Small Coastal Cities, and in the light of the recommendations of the conferences of Rio 92 and Istanbul 96, Working Group 2 proposed the design of a project on the restoration of the historical north ramparts of the town of Essaouira and the specific analysis of the local environment to explain the causes and consequences of the main damage to these ramparts. The Chairman, rapporteurs and discussion leaders examined in detail the present state of degradation of these ramparts and drew up a number of proposals and priority actions to be undertaken.

(i) State of the ramparts
  • ramparts and adjacent houses are in an advanced state of decay
  • the foundations of the ramparts are crumbling in places
  • rampart pavements are in a state of decay
  • the departure of people from houses built against the ramparts entails the need for extra housing
  • part of a coral reef, that formed a natural protective barrier for the ramparts, has been lost
  • sediment around the ramparts is depleted
  • run-off, waste water and rain water have infiltrated the ramparts
(ii) Technical and financial situation
  • urgent action to plug the leaks has been taken
  • there is no maintenance
  • municipal budget increase to cover the cost of resettlement
  • lack of capital to safeguard the ramparts
  • lack of technical co-ordination amongst those involved
(iii) Causes of damage to the ramparts
  • action of the sea (swell)
  • chemical action of wastewater discharge on the ramparts and the rocks
  • local wind action

Proposals and priority actions to be taken were thus decided. An order of priority was considered.

(i) Proposals and actions of top priority
  • rational exploitation of the mission reports and the studies made by Messrs. Rosenthal, Ropert and Perrot, and by the LPEE (Public Test and Design Laboratory)
  • necessity of technical co-ordination and concerted action among those involved in the project to protect the ramparts
  • start as quickly as possible the restoration of the ramparts, including the protective barrier (breakwater)
  • exploit Saint-Malo's experience
  • fill the cavities observed at the base of the ramparts
  • study the suitability of restoring the beach at the foot of the ramparts by the addition of sand
  • increase knowledge of the sea-level data (statistics and in situ measurements)
  • provide routine pH measurements of the sea water at the foot of the ramparts.
(ii) Short-term action
  • consider ways of protecting the ramparts (construction of a breakwater)
  • mobilize the funding needed for the implementation of the proposals and recommendations.
(iii) Medium-term action
  • avoid the discharge of waste water into the sea close to the ramparts
  • inform the people inhabiting the houses along the ramparts
(iv) Long-term action
  • restoration of the old town under the integrated development project
  • protection of the benthic algae, which are overexploited but which help to maintain a certain stability of the sea bed along the ramparts.

At the second session of the Steering Committee, new proposals were put forward. Various scientific exposÚs on the problem of coastal erosion off the ramparts of Essaouira and the basic solutions available were evaluated by Professor Roland Paskoff, a specialist in coastal erosion and a new member of the Steering Committee, and Professor Wolfang Rosenthal.

The following points were dealt with:

  • efficient but landscaping costs high
  • confined shore water
  • aggravated pollution
  • very high cost
  • the reconstitution of a beach goes against nature; it would be necessary to maintain the sand in a zone subject to wave attack, which is impossible
  • these are not stable enough; problems and cost of installation
Rocky dyke at the foot of the ramparts:
  • least inconvenient
  • disfigures the ramparts.

Proposals were made to prepare a joint mission by Professors Paskoff and Rosenthal to determine the feasibility of placing large blocks of rock on the limestone rock platforms that are in the bay in front of the ramparts.

This solution would be the most harmonious vis-Ó-vis the present environment; it would however be necessary to carry out simulations of major storms with a suitable computer programme to evaluate the effect of this new rock structure on the reduction of the wave impact on the ramparts.

It would also be necessary to verify whether these rocks would become projectiles during major winter storms. A mission to follow up the work on the seaward side of the ramparts was carried out in April by Mr. Perrot with the Association for the Development of Exchanges between France and Morocco (ADEFRAM).

6.3 Working group 3: Socio-Architectural Revitilization of the Historic Urban Fabric

Chairmen: Mrs. Fouzia Imanssar, Director of the Rabat/SalÚ Urban Agency
  Mr. Louis Pottier, Deputy Mayor of Saint-Malo
Rapporteur: Mr. Serge Santelli, Urban Planner, teacher at the Paris School, Belleville
UNESCO Follow-up: Mrs. Brigitte Colin, SHS/SRP/HH

6.3.1 General Recommendations

In the context of the objectives of the UNESCO seminar Urban Development and Water Resources: Small Coastal Cities, and especially objective No. 2 (identification of preferential areas for operational and co-operational partnerships between Essaouira and the municipalities present at the seminar) and No. 3 (reinforce and support ongoing actions undertaken by the local and national authorities to stimulate bilateral and multilateral co-operation in the safeguard of the environmental and socio-cultural identity of Essaouira, while ensuring its integrated development), Working Group 3 took into account the work of the Summer University of Essaouira of September 1997 and the presentation of projects identified by the various local public services and associations. It proposed to study the situation with Essaouira's potential partners attending the seminar, namely:

Realistic prospects for co-operation amongst these various organisms and the local regional and national authorities charged with integrated development of the town of Essaouira (urban area and old town) were foreseen.

In particular, the following specific actions, taken in order of priority, should be supported; some of them have already been started:

(i) Actions initiated locally by the Agenda 21 Group in collaboration with the French
  • Restoration and upkeep of the north ramparts (seaward side) following the recommendations in the report by Mr. Alain Charles Perrot, Chief Architect, Historic Monuments and Buildings, Paris. This project requires urgent action. Work was begun in the winter of 1997/8: two Compagnons du Devoir, two maÔlems and ten apprentices have been assigned to repair the seaward side of the ramparts.
  • Launch of the revitalization of the Kuwait Street block by the Moroccan National Shelter Upgrading Agency (ANHI) and PACT ARIM International. These agencies were involved because of their experience in the Maghreb (Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria) and especially their understanding of the juridical and ownership constraints in old towns.
  • Establishment, with ADEFRAM, of a training work-site to teach young people traditional building crafts. During the training they will rehabilitate the former French Consulate and restore, following the craft rules, a building that will serve later as a family-help centre.
(ii) Actions already started by the Moroccan authorities
  • A development plan for the old town has already been launched by the General Directorate for Urban Planning, Architecture and Land-Use Development, of the Ministry of the Interior, to complement the Master Plan for Development and Urban Planning, it should take into account all the studies already made of the old town in close co-operation with the public, designers and historical monuments services. This document will be used as a Preservation Plan to be included in a dossier that will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for the inclusion of Essaouira in the World Heritage list.
(iii) Actions for which a partner is sought
  • Conduct of a photogrammetric survey of the bridge and the Naval Gate, with a view to carrying out a study including costs of restoration, in concert with the Ministry of Culture and the corresponding services of the municipality of Saint-Malo. A summary dossier of the work required for the rehabilitation of the bridge and the Naval Gate will be sent to UNESCO to obtain funds to carry out the urgent consolidation work.
  • Acquisition from French, Portuguese or Spanish architects of a detailed and specific order book for carrying out the restoration of the ramparts built by Theodore Cornut.
  • To inform and seek the participation of the public in the work on the ground, with existing associations. A space has been assigned to Environment and Development in the Third World (ENDA) Maghreb in the Palais de Justice. The actions taken by ENDA Maghreb are directed by Mr.Kamel El N'Dari, especially as regards the urban environment (eg, the fountains of the old town, the vegetable gardens of the green belt, improvement of the scalas, etc.). This NGO also has the task of informing and preparing the population.
  • A preliminary study to define the project "Binan El Madina" and establish how the local population might accomplish it.

To ensure the success of an integrated approach to the development of Essaouira, which is already benefiting from offers of support from national and international partners, it seems desirable :

At the completion of the second session of the Steering Committee, the reinforcement of certain actions was considered necessary:

In accordance with the agreement being negotiated between Spain and UNESCO on co-operation between technical architects and the UNESCO project participants, the following actions will be taken this year:

6.4 Working groups 4 and 5: Socio-Economic Activities and Tourism and: an Integrated Approach to Development

Chairmen: Mr. Nour Eddine Ottmani, President of the Study and Research Group for the Promotion of Essaouira (GERPE) and Administrator of the Association for the Preservation, Promotion and Development of Essaouira (ASPDE)
Professor Giovanni d'Ayala, President of the International Scientific Council for Island Development (INSULA)
Professor Floris Zuidema, Secretary of the IHP, The Netherlands
Rapporteurs: Professor Maria-Luisa Gentileschi, Geographer, University of Cagliari
Mr. Philippe Pypaert, UNESCO Office in Venice

Within the specific objectives of Working Groups 4 and 5, the Chairmen, Rapporteurs and Discussion Leaders examined the following projects:

Discussion of these projects by national and international experts, representatives of the partner municipalities and of local associations raised numerous indications of the need for action, and several recommendations, were put forward.

6.4.1 General Recommendations

  1. The participants in the seminar insisted on the need to adopt, in an effective manner, an integrated approach to the development of Essaouira, through a strategy of development of various sectors (tourism, fishery, agriculture, crafts) so as to diversify the possibilities of socio-economic development.
  2. They recommended the rapid creation of a project co-ordination group, with the aim of essentially guaranteeing an intersectorial and interdisciplinary analysis of all the project components.
  3. In the same perspective, the participants stressed the importance of the development of a precise strategic framework for the project as a whole, to which all activities should be referred (distribution of the resources in time and space).
  4. To ensure that the projects envisaged (under study or ongoing) truly contribute to the sustainable development of Essaouira, the participants strongly recommend that everything be done to ensure an effective participation of the local population and activist groups, by studying and elaborating all useful modes for their integration into decision-making, from project conception to completion, via their evaluation.

These modalities should be translated into:

In this effort to involve the local population, a central role will be played by Agenda 21 and Environment and Development in the Third World ENDA-Maghreb.

6.4.2 Specific Recommendations

Specific recommendations emerged from the discussion and analysis of the projects underway (green belt, mobilization of the population, development of alternative tourism, UNDP programme).

(i) The Green Belt
While recognizing the undeniable qualities of the project under consideration, and stressing the courage required to limit the expansion of the town, the participants nevertheless recommended that:
  • the name "green belt" be replaced by the term "natural belt"
  • the impact, of the stabilization of the dunes and the construction of a dam on the Oued Ksorb, on sediment transport along the coast and on beach equilibrium be studied in detail
  • a detailed hydrological study be undertaken to among other things locate and list the potential uses of lagoons (collection of run-off water, freshwater ecosystem, epuration of waste water, irrigation reservoirs), and to assess the risk of soil salination
  • the public (e.g., the population of the Skala district) should be closely involved in all phases of evaluation, elaboration and execution of the project
  • that all solutions that would allow waste water recycling for irrigation of the natural belt should be studied and developed, and that, in this context, the use of renewable energy, especially wind energy, should be encouraged.
(ii) Mobilization and participation of the population
Considering that the primary resource of Essaouira is its inhabitants and that they will be the primary beneficiaries of the development effort made, as well as being privileged participants, the participants in the seminar agreed that the participation of the population of Essaouira in the ongoing process should be encouraged in accordance with the modalities of the local community itself. The participants therefore asked that the population be associated as closely as possible with the decision-making and with the execution of the projects under consideration. To do this, their creativity should be stimulated, and efforts aimed at development of their skills should be reinforced.
(iii) Tourism
The participants in the seminar all recognized that the cultural, architecture, historical, and environmental characteristics of Essaouira will encourage tourism, which is vital to the town's economy. For this potential to be an effective source of development for all, it was recommended:
  • that special attention be given to a concerted definition of a development strategy for this sector, leading to the adoption of a Charter for Sustainable Tourism for Essaouira drafted in the framework of the programme "Localizing Agenda 21", to serve as an essential element of dialogue with the tourist operators
  • that the choice of "monocultural tourism", which is risky, be avoided as far as possible in favour of integrated development of new forms of tourism that could drive the development of related and interdependent sectors such as handicrafts, fishing and inland agricultural production
  • that the authorities responsible for the tourist industry assess and promulgate alternative forms of tourism (watersports, ecotourism, cultural tourism).
The importance was also stressed of considering such tourism, even in its alternative forms, as an industry requiring major public and private investment, so that the conditions for harmonious development could be achieved. To this end, the participants in the seminar recommended that a detailed analysis be made of the constraints relating to the water cycle (supply, distribution, collection, epuration), especially as concerns the old town, the major tourist attraction in Essaouira.
(iv) Handicrafts
As for tourism, diversification of the local handicrafts industry was recognized by all as being a necessity. It was recommended, however:
  • that, to the development of forms of "decorative" handicrafts, the conservation and/or development of "functional" forms of handicraft (boat-building, carpentry, agro-foods) should be added to support of the traditional economic activities of Essaouira
  • that a "craftsmen's village" be created in the heart of the town, to provide craftsmen with not only the most suitable infrastructure for their activities but also the support required for training, promotion and exchanges (re-use of the Spanish Consulate after rehabilitation).

In addition to the general and specific recommendations emanating from this workshop, a number of new issues were raised during the second meeting of the Steering Committee.

A request for the establishment of a Web site for Essaouira and the publication of a brochure on ecotourism will be submitted to UNESCO by the local authorities. The dissemination of this brochure in Europe will be ensured by the towns participating in the project.

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