Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Guidelines for coastal developers and planners are available

Do you live near the beach? Are you planning to build near the coast ? If you answer "yes" to these questions, then read carefully.

Coastal erosion is one of the most serious problems facing island peoples, economies and tourist industries. Some guidelines which will help to reduce the negative effects of coastal erosion, specifically in the Caribbean Region, but also applicable elsewhere, are published by UNESCO as CSI Info 4 (1997) which is available now, free (see below).

The beaches and coasts of the Caribbean islands are facing increasing pressures from natural causes, such as hurricanes, winter storms and sea level rise, and from man's activities which include intensive development on the coast, sand extraction and pollution. As beaches, dunes and cliffs erode, more and more private individuals and governments are having to resort to sea defence options, which may or may not work and which always come attached to a high cost tag. Existing pressures are likely to worsen as the numbers of people wanting to live on the coast or to further develop it for tourism increase.

It is against this background that UNESCO, within its Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI) endeavour, together with the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Program (UPR-SGCP), have prepared some guidelines for developers and planners which address the very serious problem of coastal erosion. These guidelines develop a methodology for the effective use of coastal development setbacks for new buildings which establish a safe distance between the upper limit of wave action and new developments. Implementation of these guidelines will help to save beaches by reducing erosion and the need for sea defences. They will also provide for improved vistas, access and privacy for beach users and property owners. The guidelines are based on a variety of shoreline types and follow a methodology developed by the project entitled "Coast and Beach Stability in the Lesser Antilles" (COSALC).

Copies of these guidelines, entitled ‘Planning for coastline change’ (CSI Info No.4, Sept.97, UNESCO) are available free from:

Documentation and Information Centre
1 rue Miollis
75732 Paris Cedex 15, France
fax 33 (0) 1 4568 5808


COSALC Co-ordination Office
(attn. Dr. G. Cambers)
P.O. box 9011, College Station
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, 00681
fax (1) 787 265 2880


UNESCO Port of Spain Office
c/o UNDP P.O. Box 812
Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago
fax 1 (809)623 1658

As of February 1998, these guidelines will also be available from local Planning Offices in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Turks and Caicos Islands and (where established) the National Commission for UNESCO (which in most islands is co-located with the Ministry of Education).

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