Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands


CSI info 10


When Mr. M. Iaccarino, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences arrived, the participants were still discussing issues and he expressed his concern to interrupt the discussions, but he hoped that these would continue by mail, e-mail, phone or face-to-face meetings. In closing, he underlined that the coastal zones are very important because they are so productive and people have concentrated there for a long time, and unique cultures have developed. The interaction of humans and nature is changing the coastal zones and success or failure in coastal management is rooted in our culture and our economic activities. There needs to be a new social contract between science and society and this will be an issue at the World Conference on Science next year. The complexity of the problems of coastal zones and small islands needs a multi-sectoral approach such as that being developed by the coastal regions and small islands projects of UNESCO. He noted that gender equality had been identified as an issue at this meeting. It is his belief that the participation of women in coastal management and in all development issues is essential, and that furthermore our future challenge is to ensure the participation of all of society.

Mr. H. Crespo-Toral, Acting Assistant Director-General for Culture, regretted his absence at the opening of the workshop as he was participating in a seminar on conservation of historical cities in Latin America and Caribbean Islands, in Ecuador. He said that Havana’s experience has shown us that we cannot separate culture from nature. In spite of the technological development, we have not yet harmonized development and natural preservation. Culture is fundamental in this problematic. He invited the participants to think in a “cosmo-vision” framework, to see the world from others’ viewpoints. Cosmo-vision constitutes a framework for harmonious development.

This meeting allows us to have a global vision, so what remains to do is to point out the cultural dimension in our future projects. Coastal zones and small islands have a particular vision of the relation of their inhabitants towards nature. We have to take into consideration the old traditions which explain human behaviour. Modernization depends on the balance that can be found between the old traditions and modern development.

Mme. F. Fournier, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, concluded that the meeting has raised concern for the need for a new formulation of the social contract between science and society in coastal zone management, for two reasons:

  1. the implication of human beings in coastal zones must be taken into account as the cause of degradation – not only the natural phenomena but also the interaction between nature and human activities that are changing coastal zones;

  2. the rapid globalization also consists of standardization and inter-penetration of ecological, social, cultural and economic areas.

Wise coastal management practice needs the commitment of the different social actors and scientists, women’s participation and the whole society in coastal management and development. Another challenge is to develop joint research programmes in natural and social sciences, environment and sustainable development, food security, eradication and alleviation of extreme poverty. This meeting has allowed the different specialists in coastal zone management, coming from different regions of the world that are facing similar problems, to meet and to compare their varying points of view That is where UNESCO can be helpful. We all can learn from this confrontation of experiences.

Mr. D. Troost, Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands, thanked the participants who were developing and thinking on wise coastal development practices, his colleagues who were so active in providing background information, and the interpreters.

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