Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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CSI info 5


On the eve of the 21st century, much of the world's population is concentrated along the borders of the sea, and these numbers are expected to rise dramatically during the coming decades. Of the world's 23 megacities, 16 are in the coastal belt. Many of the Earth's most diverse, complex and productive ecosystems are coastal, and as coasts have always served as cross-roads for human population movement and cultural exchange, they have come to harbour intricate social and cultural mosaics. Despite this enormous ecological and socio-cultural wealth, coastal resources are nonetheless finite and rapidly increasing pressures have made many coastal areas flashpoints for conflict.

Addressing the diverse problems facing coastal regions and small islands is a transdisciplinary challenge requiring the careful formulation of policies for integrated action. In response to these needs, the UNESCO endeavour 'Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands' (CSI) was launched in 1996. Its goal is to serve as a platform for cross-sectoral action in order to assist Member States towards coastal development which is environmentally sound, socially equitable and culturally appropriate. The 'CSI info' series provides an informal vehicle to disseminate information to stakeholders, coastal managers, decision-makers and other actors confronted with coastal region and small island problems.

The present volume contains the proceedings from an international seminar entitled 'Urban Development and Freshwater Resources: Small Coastal Cities' which took place in Essaouira, Kingdom of Morocco, from 24-26 November 1997. The seminar brought together cities of the north African coast with co-operating cities of the northern Mediterranean and northern Europe, along with UNESCO and national and local counterparts. The Essaouira case, highlighted during the seminar, provides a starting point for an expanding network which is linking together urban centres facing similar social and environmental challenges. Key amongst these issues are limited freshwater resources, rapid demographic expansion and a deteriorating urban environment.

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