Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands

CSI info 10


Integrated coastal management encompasses a wealth of topics, approaches, disciplines and geographical areas, such that it is very difficult to provide a cohesive framework that has general applicability from the conceptual to the field implementation level. The carefully elaborated framework of diagrams and flow charts conceptualized at a theoretical level or at the beginning of a project often have little relation to the reality of the coastal practitioner, who is faced with having to make quick decisions against a background of little or no information and with a deadline of yesterday!

Integrated coastal management, without an accepted theoretical background or guiding principles, is very difficult to practice in the field. All too often the only type of evaluation is self-evaluation, which is usually favourable but does not necessarily advance the management process. While it is accepted that integrated coastal management is interdisciplinary and intersectoral, the basic tenets of science and the scientific method are all too often forgotten and local indigenous knowledge and management practices ignored. Sometimes, too, workers in integrated coastal management focus on the process or the tool, be it the participatory approach or geographical information systems, and lose sight of the ultimate goal which is the sustainable management of human activities in coastal areas.

UNESCO, on its platform for Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI), initiated a process which brings together many different approaches in order to improve the practice of integrated coastal management, primarily at a grassroots level, but in so doing, also at a conceptual level. With a relatively small core staff – relying on the collaboration of colleagues and specialists from various domains and sectors, both within and outside the Organization – more than twenty pilot projects have been launched and are already producing thought-provoking results. In order to discuss and evaluate the initial orientation, philosophy, bases and first steps of these projects, an intersectoral workshop was organized at the Organization’s headquarters in Paris, 30 November to 4 December 1998. Invited were the pilot project leaders, holders of UNESCO Chairs in Sustainable Coastal Management, and other specialists of relevant domains.

One of CSIs major contributions is to seek out, analyse, develop and record – for use by stakeholders and others in Member States – those practices which seem to be the most appropriate or which would yield optimum results for sustainable human development. Thus, following the workshop, a virtual forum (username: csi; password: wise) on ‘wise coastal practices for sustainable human development’ was set up to continue the work initiated during the workshop.

This volume contains the summarized presentations and opinions of the workshop participants (Part A) as well as an overview of the ‘virtual forum’ (username: csi; password: wise) (Part B). Although the latter part is much smaller than the former, it is nonetheless of equal importance since it documents a major follow-up to the workshop. We trust that this information will indeed be of interest and enhance coastal management activities around the world.

Dirk G. Troost and
Douglas Nakashima

Gillian Cambers
Virtual Forum Co-moderator

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