Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands


A. Sandberg, Tromsø University, Norway 

Allow me one provocative observation before I address the Nordic-Baltic Network. As seen from north of the Arctic Circle, people are not always degrading the environment. In fact, in many instances, people are enhancing the environment. We have what is called the coastal cultural landscapes which very often hold a larger biodiversity than the coastal wilderness.

An unwise practice for northern countries is to allow or promote rural depopulation of the coast. This leads sometimes to a loss of coastal diversity. For instance, the degradation of habitat of the Eider duck, which is a human-enhanced environment, leads to fewer ducks. Even salmon stock enhancement suffers when people disappear. So people are necessary when we discuss ecology.

The Nordic-Baltic Network is a long-term project because co-operation between countries has to build upon trust and confidence. This develops slowly. Our experience is that when you discuss the sustainable management of resources, this affects national constitutional issues, i.e. how a particular country is structured. That means people have to trust each other in order to discuss the constitutional dilemmas relating to their respective countries. I am sure you are familiar with these discussions.

The network today consists of five Nordic and three Baltic countries and we expect expansion in the Baltic area, including Russia (i.e. St Petersburg and Kaliningrad), Poland and Germany. It consists of scientists and trainers in CZM, local level managers and planners and central policy-makers, both facilitating, but also sometimes making CZM more difficult.

We have had two meetings so far, one in 1997 in Oslo where we agreed on items that should be brought to fruition in 1998, and one in 1998, in Jurmala, Latvia. A third meeting is planned in Frederikstad in May 1999. We started a process of synthesizing country experiences in coastal development in 1997.

There are so many coastal development projects in the region, in particular at the municipal level, some being implemented, some not. In western and northern Europe, there are 38 EU demonstration projects, which are to be summed up in the Spring of 1999. We even have provincial coastal plans which try to go beyond the level of municipalities. One of the pressing issues in planning and management along the Atlantic and Baltic coasts is the growth of aquaculture which is stressing ecosystems and, to a certain extent, coastal societies.

It is time to start work synthesizing experiences from different countries, their legal foundation and institutional set-up. It is a step beyond a case study approach. These comparisons bring further analytical depth to scientists. Other countries’ experiences place a different perspective on individual problems. They also provide a chance for policy-makers to develop more effective policies (i.e. more transparency and less transaction costs) and may allow devolution and empowerment of coastal communities if successful.

This example of eight small countries co-operating among themselves and exchanging experiences in coastal zone planning and management, may be copied and applied elsewhere. 

R. Ernsteins, Centre for Environmental Sciences and Management Studies, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia 


Latvian Government plans envisage the provision of long-term sustainability through balanced agricultural, industrial and traditionally based development, while simultaneously involving such new elements as green tourism, maximal environmental pollution prevention, further promotion of traditional local culture (devoting special concern to the national minorities), and the introduction of environmentally sound technologies into major domains of local production activities.

Generally speaking, the situation is fragile because of the former Soviet Union border zone regime (about 30 km from the Baltic Sea coast). This has resulted in specific conditions for the local regions where their closed character and limited entrance possibilities, on the one hand; and their protected nature and rare species, on the other hand, created obstacles for development. Nowadays, the authorities have all the responsibilities but not enough experience, skills or knowledge. In many cases they must start their planning from the “zero” point, as they have insufficient infrastructure, few finances and not enough industrial or agricultural production capacities in their territories. Therefore, present conditions are limiting them in the flexible use of market economy advantages. 


The National Environmental Policy Plan (NEPP) for Latvia was approved by the government in 1995. A set of priorities was identified for investments in the environmental sector; these included water, air, waste and nature protection fields, as well as sustainable development projects. The National Programme for the Protection of the Baltic Sea Environment has launched an integrated coastal zone management investment programme. These programmes are co-financed from different national and international sources; local municipalities contribute 10%. The decisions of the international funding institutions are more and more based on an investment programme approach and not on single projects.

The following is a short overview of on-going integrated coastal zone management projects by/under the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia (VARAM) financed mainly by PHARE and the World Bank. The main emphasis is placed on the development of the nature management project for the potential protected coastal territories, e.g. Slitere National Park, Kemeri National Park, Engure Nature, as well as development of ecotourism and GIS applications.

The Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (financed by EU PHARE) for Latvia and Lithuania, finished this year. The whole project has been selected as the European Coastal Zone demonstration project and has raised municipal interest.

In order to facilitate realization of the municipal project VARAM is planning to sign a “Memorandum of Understanding” identifying responsibilities and obligations of all parties. The distribution of information and the involvement of the municipalities in the complete project cycle, including supervision and public awareness, should be ensured. There is obviously a growing demand for interdisciplinary research and interactive training. The Centre for Environmental Science and Management Studies (CESAMS) is playing a prominent role in these innovative approaches. 


In the CESAMS, a multidisciplinary unit at the University of Latvia, there are ongoing cross-sectoral socio-environmental research and development projects in environmental awareness and public participation. These include environmental problem-solving and development of Local Agenda 21 implementation at the different government levels: rural municipalities, groups/partnerships of rural municipalities, towns and districts. 


The interactive self-training seminar “Sustainable Development and Democracy in Latvian Municipalities” in 1996/97, was conducted for different municipal levels and different target groups (teachers, NGOs, politicians, entrepreneurs, farmers, etc.).

Education and environmental management for coastal areas have been mutually integrated through the Master’s degree study programme and other postgraduate training programmes and courses. Postgraduate students coming from municipalities and environmental authorities are doing their field studies and M.Sc. theses in coastal areas. The data obtained through the research activities has been applied to develop guidelines for the wise management of selected coastal area ecosystems. 


Research and training experience from developmental projects in Latvian municipalities, particularly coastal territories, provides some general conclusions relating to the transfer and application of environmental knowledge to local authorities.

We can conclude that local municipalities are not prepared and are being overloaded by everyday practicalities. They are seldom able to require, receive, discuss and include environmental knowledge for development activities in their territories. Unfortunately, the research community and environmental authorities have not enough experience or motivation to transfer and communicate even existing knowledge to local municipalities, both the decision makers and the public.

The local public rarely have sufficient representation by NGOs, and are not satisfactorily informed. Subsequently, the existing gap between understanding and co-operation, by all actors, is leading towards “learning by doing” management.

It is also recognized that regional development programmes and projects, as well as laws and administrative changes in the Republic of Latvia, are only at the very beginning of their implementation. A certain degree of confusion and instability exists.

In practice the current urgent interests of municipalities may contradict the long-term interests of environmental protection specialists, often leading to a top-down approach for local environmental management without real dialogue. Recently a small number of regional and local NGOs, professional associations (bio-dynamic agriculture, tourism, etc.), mass media and other new actors have emerged and might have important roles to play. 


Elaboration of positive pilot case studies as “success stories” or “wise practices”, to be disseminated in both printed form and during seminars, is of high value.

Regular training programmes, for local leadership and for other representatives of local municipalities, are of great value and crucial for success. These programmes are for active, young and modern leaders of local municipalities, groups of employees and interested persons, grass-root NGOs, and local mass media.

Some local projects are listed below:


J. Baerenholdt, Geography Department, Roskilde University, Denmark 

The presentation outlined some general ideas from the UNESCO (MOST) CCPP, which is an international, comparative social science project focusing on localities in the circumpolar north (Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia). The project is about social changes, which are related to the challenges of integration of a non-local character. In other words: the threat of marginalization in “globalization”.

Of specific interest to CSI, MOST case studies include North Atlantic fisheries, where resources, stakeholders and markets are often non-local, due to the mobility and change of fish stocks, fish quotas (especially in the case of “Individually Transferable Quotas”) and fish companies. Competition exists between countries and localities as they partly depend on the same resources, resource management systems, companies and markets.

In a recent book, we have defined “coping strategies” as guiding principles. Coping strategies are:

  1. Innovative (responses to global restructuring)

  2. Collective, with a face-to-face basis

  3. Active and meaningful, forming identity

The main research question is: how are local linkages (between firms, authorities, voluntary organizations etc.) empowering local people to master non-local markets, state/regional authorities and organizations?

These definitions and this research question should be seen in the context of the specific problems we are facing in the Circumpolar North, which are marginalization and depopulation of resource-based regions. Therefore the approach focuses on how to restructure local economies in relation to non-local resources, non-local stakeholders and non-local markets.

At the CCPP users strategy conference in Isafjordur in Iceland, March 1998, there were local municipal practitioners and researchers from 12 different localities in Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. A common experience seems to be that success of locality development has to do with local control of four different forms of “capital”:

We have some good Nordic cases but we also have localities hidden by crises due to lack of economic and especially social capital (in Russia) and lack of natural capital (fish closure in Labrador and Newfoundland). In this context, special emphasis can be put on the CCPP case study on Teriberka on the Murman coast of the Murmansk region of Russia as this locality could also be interesting for CSI.

From the CCPP, the following results can be expected:



A. El Mouatez, City Councillor for Essaouira, Morocco


On the terrestrial side, the project is co-sponsored by the Municipality and the Office of the Secretary of State for Cultural Affairs. The objective of the project is to renew the plaster of the wall of the city of Essaouira. The plaster on the wall has begun to crumble away because the lime has been poorly slaked, and the plaster, which should have contained lime paste, was made of whitewash. Consequently the plaster dries too rapidly and does not adhere to the wall.

The normal procedure to follow during such works consists of the establishment of a “CPS” (in French, Cahier de Prescriptions Spécifiques – architect’s work-site plan containing detailed specific instructions, measurements etc.). The Heritage Directorate receives open bids for the selection of a company, and of a private architect to oversee the project in collaboration with the historical monuments inspector of Essaouira.

The cause of the problems mentioned above are:

  1. The CPS listed the composition of the plaster, i.e. the elements and materials to be mixed as well as their quantities. But the CPS did not explain the method for obtaining an essential element, the lime paste.

  2. The CPS also did not provide a methodology for achieving the desired result, in this case a series of fine layers, spaced out time-wise to permit proper drying and adherence.

  3. The joint commission (of the municipality, province, public works and historical monument inspection) responsible for follow-up requested that the contractor redo the work at his own expense. The work was done again, but according to the experts, Alain Charles Perrot (chief architect of historical monuments in Paris) and Claude Monteil (director of the “compagnons du devoir” – an order of skilled craftsmen in France), who have seen the work redone, the situation is still unsatisfactory because the work was done hastily, not sufficiently respecting the above-mentioned steps.

From this experience, two conclusions can be drawn regarding “poor practices”. First, there was an attempt to associate two directly opposing logics: restoration which requires strict adherence to proper techniques, and fine detailed and time-consuming work; and the employment of a private company, whose motivation is to finish the work as quickly as possible for financial reasons. The second conclusion is that the workers involved did not have the proper training for the restoration of historical monuments. In reality, the “culture of restoration” has not yet become ingrained. Therefore one must closely supervise the workers, at least during the initial “pilot” phase on site.

On the seaward side of the ramparts, the crumbling wall gave rise to deep cracks and cavities in the underlying foundation rocks, caused by waves and the chemical corrosive action of waste water and acid dumped into the sea.

Consolidation efforts using cement have had a negative effect (the cement breaks away, taking with it parts of the wall).

Expert missions have examined the problem. They agree on the need to provide long-term protection for the wall. This can be accomplished by putting in place a structure which would fill in the empty space between the rocky reefs located about 300 m from the wall.

However, more urgently, they emphasize the need for a common methodology. Thus consultations are called for amongst the different specialists to propose a method for the provisional protection of the work site, a method which is both effective and which takes into account tidal movements. Their first conclusion was that the work at the base of the wall and on the seaward side of the wall should wait until spring. In the meantime, a plan should be worked out to continue the work on the parapet-walkway and the battlements.

Between now and springtime, the plaster and lime materials should be tested on the accessible parts of the wall to see how these materials react to exposure on the seaward side during the winter. Next spring, several approaches should be tested on small parts.

For such a complex work site, an experimental approach is the only possibility. In order to rapidly define a methodology which can be applied to the whole wall, one must increase the types of experiments using various methods and materials. 


This restoration project is being carried out by the Municipality in collaboration with the Province, Agenda 21, the French Embassy, ADEFRAM and the “compagnons du devoir”. The work began at the end of February and should be completed by the end of December.

The originality of this activity is that it is conceived as a “learners site”. The apprentices are supervised continuously by the representatives of the different partners mentioned earlier and by the “compagnons du devoir”. All observers agreed on the quality of the work. The restoration is being carried out strictly according to the rules of the trade.

The methodology adopted has facilitated, on the one hand, a daily checking by professionals and, on the other hand, training for apprentices who thus will be able to perform more professionally at other work sites. It also means a new source of earnings for the youth of the city. At this point, it would be better to help young people to set up their own companies.

Through these examples, I have tried to demonstrate that in every experience there are “good practices” and “bad practices”. The former are important in that they will serve as models for the other cities of Morocco or for the ones selected from the network of coastal cities co-ordinated by UNESCO; I think the “bad practices” have more value, since at local level they allow us to realign our sights and to remove the factors that have caused failure. This could help our partners save time and not be victims of the same mistakes. One hopes that during the coming workshop we will be able to learn about the experiences of the network’s cities.

Finally, it seems that the restoration of historical monuments is a complex operation – very expensive, requiring professional qualifications and, above all, the time for implementation. This “culture of restoration” in Essaouira is still in the embryonic stage. The goal appears to be attainable, given the awareness of the authorities and of the local population as to the importance of the preservation of monuments for the promotion and economic development of the city.  

G. Campeol, Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia, Venice, Italy  

This case study on Omisalj on the North Adriatic Sea was developed with the co-operation of the University of Venice, the Faculty of Agronomy of Gemble (Belgium) and the Faculty of Architecture of Zagreb (Croatia). The sites that have been studied and which we are presently using to define the final project, are very interesting examples relevant to the theme of “Small historic coastal towns”.

The case of Omisalj is geographically representative of other towns in Italy, such as Venice, Syracuse, Augusta, Notto, Otranto, Brindisi and Tarento. A case study is planned for the town of Kotor in Montenegro. This project will result in a partnership between the University of Genoa, the Faculty of Architecture of Florence and the Polytechnic of Milan. The main objective is to encourage a transdisciplinary approach in order to create integrated projects with the municipality, the regional government and the population.

Omisalj, in Croatia, is situated in the north of the Adriatic. The site allows us to define the general geographic characteristics which categorise, as far as the environmental situation is concerned, homogenous and heterogeneous zones.

The Omisalj case demonstrates the existence of Mediterranean historic towns that have managed to maintain their symbolic value. However, there is no connection between the development of tourism and the historical heritage. Indeed, the development of the petro-chemical and steel industry in the urban zones has led to pollution problems and risks of explosion. Although historic sites are enclaves in these industrial zones, they remain extraordinary marine landscapes. However, these conditions are not specific to Omisalj.

Examination of a map of the site shows the town, situated on the island of Kerke, the biggest in Croatia. The town centre is medieval, with Venitian style architecture. Tourism has recently been developed in the area and the population has left the town centre to be housed in a new residential zone. Then there is the industrial zone and the Fulsinum archeological enclave, which is a very important example of the ancient Roman regime, and finally, the nature reserves with its lake and marshes.

These characteristics are also apparent in Venice, Syracuse etc. and are typical of the development of Adriatic coastal towns and generally in the Mediterranean area.

What can one do? In the first phase it is necessary to develop green belts in the industrial zones, shift dangerous industrial zones to more appropriate areas, relocate the population to historic zones and develop tourism and ecotourism in nature reserves.

The Omisalj case allows us to make the following general proposals:

Wise practices concern defining geographical homogenous zones and then establishing geographical categories such as:

  1. Diversified urban coastal zones with great environmental problems – one can only envisage practical methodology and interventions in these zones;

  2. Vast coastal zones of high environmental interest, for example, coastal towns where marshes and lagoons are still well preserved;

  3. Totally urbanized coastal towns, which have no environmental value.

The definition of homogenous zones allows us to set environmental guidelines through transdisciplinary methodology, identify local collaborators, undertake impact studies and also involve the participation of the population. 


These presentations illustrate two different approaches: on the one hand a local project, which is also part of a global integrated activity enacted by a local government and, on the other hand, a scientific approach based on studies from a number of small historic coastal cities. In both approaches, the inhabitants’ perception of the projects were important components.

Further clarification was sought regarding coastal towns; three categories were proposed: mixed zones where historic and industrial landscapes are present, linear urban zones (e.g. between Venice and Bari) and coastal towns with high quality natural resources.

It was further pointed out that building restoration in small historic towns in the Mediterranean served a dual purpose, firstly preserving the cultural heritage, and secondly improving the living conditions of people residing in these small historic towns through the provision of employment and shelter – some of the poorest people live close to the towns’ walls.  



J. Wiener, Fondation pour la protection de la biodiversité marine, Port au Prince, Haïti  


In December 1996, UNESCO, through its unit on Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI), organized a seminar in Haiti with the goal of gathering local information and support for promoting the protection and sustainable use of Haiti’s coastal and marine resources. One of the recommendations at the end of this meeting was that there be an exchange of ideas among Haitian and Jamaican fishers in order to share thoughts on “wise-practices” being developed in each country.

Two counterpart organizations helped to execute this programme: the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (CCAM) in Jamaica, and the Fondation pour la Protection de la Biodiversité Marine (FoProBiM) in Haiti.

With the technical and financial support of UNESCO, the marine transportation provided by the Jamaican Coast Guard, fuel provided by Jamaican fuel companies, and the unflagging efforts of CCAM and FoProBiM, the exchange was scheduled for 25 August to 5 September 1998.

The UNESCO Office (Haiti) as well as the Haitian National Commission to UNESCO aided in channelling the request to obtain official government approval from the relevant ministries for the entry of a foreign military vessel into Haitian territorial waters. Arrangements were made with Haitian immigration officials and the Port Authority to meet the Coast Guard vessel upon arrival at its destination, Wahoo Bay Beach Hotel, a few kilometres north of the village of Luly, as well as for its departure from Haiti, and the return of the Haitians one week later. The Jamaican consul helped with the speedy preparation of visas.

Participating Haitian villages were located in the Gulf of la Gonâve and included: Grand Gonâve, Léogane and Janti along the southern coast, and Mitan, Cont and Luly on the northern coast. Each of these villages is represented in COOPECHE, the departmental fishing federation, and each provided at least one participant. The Directors of Fisheries and the Natural Resources Division of the Ministry of Agriculture were invited, but were unable to participate due to prior engagements. 


The exchange was organized to provide an opportunity, for the fishers and those engaged in activities directly related to fishing, to exchange ideas on practices which may be of value to their island neighbours, and to help stem continued resource destruction and degradation. Hence, the basic function was an exchange of “wise practices”.  


The Haitians who participated in the exchange were of the universal opinion that this type of activity was extremely valuable in terms of the exchange of ideas, methods, and the formation of friendships. They felt that they had much to learn from the Jamaicans in terms of the management of coastal and marine resources, and improving fishing methods.

Discussion centred around the differences in government involvement in resource management and protection. In Jamaica it was noted that there is active participation by a large variety of private and public sector institutions including the National Resource Conservation Authority (NRCA) and the Jamaica Co-operative Union. The NRCA has taken its role in regulation and management of marine resources seriously. On the other hand, most Haitian institutions, be they public or private (especially in the public sector), have, as some of the Haitian fishers put it, “resigned their role as functioning bodies”. In other words, the Haitian fisher feels that she/he has been abandoned by the government bodies which should be at the forefront of coastal and marine management activities. Therefore the Haitian fishers feel that it is up to them to organize themselves into bodies which will look out for their own needs and play the regulatory role neglected by the government.

The Jamaicans found many of the Haitian fishing methods archaic, including the fact that most Haitians still have to row (scull) or sail to fishing spots whereas almost every Jamaican fisher has access to at least one outboard engine. One technique which almost brought out anger on the part of the Jamaicans was the fact that sometimes nets are laid out for up to three days in Haiti, this was thought to be almost criminal by the Jamaicans; who usually lay out their nets for no more than three hours. The waste caused by the Haitian method is often significant whereas with the Jamaican method it is reduced to a minimum. The Haitians were very impressed with the size of the Jamaican mangrove areas visited. They began to understand the true impact of Haitian pollution on other countries with the discovery of Haitian trash on several beaches in Jamaica.

The fishpots observed were quite similar to those made in Haiti except that the traps in Haiti are made almost entirely of bamboo, while those in Jamaica are structured in wood but are covered with chicken wire.

One factor that particularly interested the Haitians was the NRCA’s choice of fishers themselves to be game wardens; to manage and protect the fisheries. The Haitians were very interested in having this type of activity in Haiti; but with serious institutional weaknesses in both the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, and in the Ministry of Environment, engaging in this type of activity in Haiti will remain a remote possibility for the foreseeable future. The Haitian fishers did comment on such things as having all fishers registered with the Ministry of Agriculture. This is already required by law but has never been enforced.

The Haitians were impressed by the style and capabilities of the Jamaican fishing boats, and are interested in acquiring one for trials in Haiti.

Many of the co-operatives or associations in Haiti participate in several different types of activities in their local communities, i.e. in schools, in churches, and providing loans. The Jamaican co-operatives do not get involved in the marketing of fish; they concentrate on the sale of fishing materials. The Haitians took note of the possibility of having the Haitian co-operatives concentrate their efforts more on one activity (fishing).

A Jamaican fishers insurance programme was discussed at the meeting, held in the Portland Bight Fisheries Management Council (PBFMC). Considerable interest was shown by the Haitian fishers regarding the possibility of having a similar type of programme designed in Haiti. However, this programme is still in the stage of having “its bugs worked out” in Jamaica. Hence, it is believed to be wiser to wait until a properly functioning programme is developed in Jamaica, which the Haitians may then modify to their own needs. 


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