in coastal regions and in small islands
Coastal region and small island papers 11
4. WISE PRACTICE AGREEMENTS
light of the limited success experienced with binding agreements, the
exploration of non-binding mechanisms may provide us with the
opportunity to adopt a new approach to deal with conflict resolution in
the coastal zone’.
NATURE OF WISE PRACTICE AGREEMENTS
wise practice agreement may be defined as a voluntary agreement among multiple
users of a resource characterized by mutual recognition of rights to the
resource. Such agreements have the potential to enhance an integrated approach
to coastal management, bringing together all stakeholders, including the
government, in a framework of voluntary compliance.
the workshop, the terms ‘voluntary agreement’ and ‘social contract’ were
used synonymously. A similar term, used in the literature, is ‘sustainable
development agreement’; another alternative used in this report is ‘wise
wise practice agreements are not a panacea for all conflict situations and they
do not replace the need for legislation and enforcement. Indeed there is an
entire spectrum from voluntary compliance to external enforcement. A wise
practice agreement might be regarded as a first level attempt at conflict
resolution, if unsuccessful it might be necessary to proceed to higher levels.
It is most likely that wise practice agreements for beach management will work
best where there is a national policy framework in place. Such policies are
being prepared in Anguilla (policy for coastal development) and in St Kitts
(policy framework for beach management).
discussed in Chapters 2 and 3,
one of the main factors leading to increased conflict over resources in many
islands has been inadequate legislation and the limited enforcement of existing
laws and regulations. Thus the exploration of less formal mechanisms may provide
an opportunity to adopt a new approach to deal with conflict prevention and
resolution. There are several advantages of such wise practice agreements:
formative process is not as lengthy or as costly as with legislation.
necessary precautionary approach can easily be incorporated.
less formal agreements may generate a moral authority that may affect
behaviour through the pressure of public opinion.
to such agreements are not pressured to fulfil each principle, only those
that are of specific interest, thus compliance is more likely.
everyone gains all the time in a wise practice agreement. The essential element
is compromise, and to ensure that more people/stakeholders are better off with
the agreement than without it.
steps may be identified in the formulation of a wise practice agreement:
is necessary to identify the partners in the agreement, and a mechanism for
bringing all the stakeholders together under equitable arrangements for
discussion. There may be value biases in determining who are valid
stakeholders. For instance those seen as ‘trouble-makers’ may be
excluded. Difficulties may also be encountered in determining the
representativeness of groups or individuals identified as stakeholders. Also
some stakeholder groups may lack expertise in the consultative process.
next step is to reach agreement on the multiple uses of the resource. This
will also include defining the physical boundaries of the area.
third step is to develop decision-making procedures, rules of enforcement of
compliance, and dispute resolution mechanisms.
agreement should be characterized by:
a minimum or absence of disputes, with limited effort needed to ensure
an adaptive capacity to cope with progressive changes, such as the arrival
of new users or techniques.
a capacity to accommodate surprise or sudden shocks.
a shared perception of fairness among the members with respect to inputs and
lead agency, or catalyst, to initiate a wise practice agreement will depend on
the specific context. It could be a university group, a government agency, a
non-governmental or community-based organization, a private developer, or other
concerned individual. It will also be necessary to carefully specify the role of
the various partners in the agreement, and for those stakeholders to understand
and comply with the conditions. It was noted that governments do not always
fulfil their obligations as signatories to international conventions, and care
must be taken that similar situations do not occur with wise practice
area management authorities
boats and craft market at
the shoreline, such as here
Area Management Authorities (LAMAs) have been established to manage the use of
particular resources. LAMAs represent partnerships between government agencies
and stakeholder groups and are supported by legislation.
Soufriere Marine Management
Area (SMMA) in St Lucia is an example of such a partnership. This was formally
established as a Local Fisheries Management Authority in 1995 by the government
of St Lucia through a Cabinet decision. The agreement was based on a lengthy
process involving identification of stakeholders and consultations among stakeholders.
Existing conflicts between different groups were the driving force for this
agreement. The SMMA comprises 11 km of coastline and has been zoned into five
different types of usage: marine reserves, fishing priority areas, yacht mooring
areas, recreational areas and multiple use areas. These zones were designed
to cater to the myriad of uses in the area, reduce conflict among users, and
protect critical marine resources. Continued input from all stakeholders is
part of the management process. An office with full-time staff members has been
established to manage the SMMA.
similar partnership approach is being developed at the Soufriere-Scotts
Head Marine Reserve in Dominica and has been proposed for Grand Anse in
for beach management
wise practice contracts at the micro-level, e.g. for one particular beach, may
be another way to approach conflict prevention or resolution. Most beach areas
are common property in that the government owns the area below high water mark
for the people, while the area landward of high water mark is often in private
ownership. Any wise practice agreement for beach management will have to involve
all stakeholders, including those who do not reside in the immediate vicinity of
the particular beach.
Against a background
of serious beach erosion, increased armouring of the shoreline, expanding
tourism development, and a growing sense of alienation among resident beach
users, the island of Nevis is experiencing increasing conflicts over its beach
resources. Due to the limitations of existing legislation and the fact that in
such a small island, individuals are not always willing to report offenders to
the relevant authorities, a mechanism aimed at seeking compliance rather than
enforcement may be more appropriate. Furthermore the island has limited
financial and human resources, and much of the coastal land is owned by the
private sector. The indications are that private developers and other
stakeholder groups are ready for a mechanism that will provide them with
long-term arrangements best suited to their individual needs.
a mechanism could be a wise practice agreement focusing on a selected group of
principles designed to address the needs of the following stakeholders at this
particular beach: coastal landowners, hotel owners and operators, government
agencies (Agriculture, Fisheries, Planning and Tourism), NGOs,
the Fishermen Cooperative, tour guide operators, recreational users, beach bar
operators and community groups.
wise practice agreement might consist of a number of principles – essentially
a series of negotiated statements on the appropriate use of the area. There
would need to be an arbitrating group, which would include government and
non-governmental stakeholders. Finally there would need to be a mechanism for
monitoring and reporting.
area at Batalie Beach,
pulling in a boat, Batalie
from the villages of Morne Rachette and Coulibistrie have traditionally used
Batalie Beach for landing, beaching and repairing their boats; landing their
catch; and repairing and storing their fishing gear. They have taken
responsibility for keeping the beach clean. When the land behind the beach was
sold in 1994, the new owners erected a fence and a gate to restrict access to
their land, and in so doing they cut off access to the beach. When on January 9
1995, the fishermen found that the entrance to the beach had been closed with a
gate, they immediately informed the Village Council. A meeting was held, after
which the Village Council tried to get in contact with the new landowner. They
were unsuccessful, despite sending a letter. Finally, the fishermen and some of
the villagers took action and dismantled the gate and fence. The Village Council
and the fishermen have since been served with legal papers, and the case is
still pending in court. The gate and fence have not been reconstructed.
visiting the site and talking to some of the stakeholders (representatives of
the Village Council and the fishermen), the workshop participants decided that
it would be impossible to implement a wise practice agreement now because the
conflict has progressed to a court of law. However, if such an agreement had
been in place before the conflict erupted, it might have been used to resolve
the conflict peacefully and change the end result. In coming to this decision,
the workshop participants recognized they had only heard the events from some
stakeholders, not the landowner’s representatives.
main issues identified in this conflict were the value of traditional-user
rights, land ownership rights, and land transfer procedures. The stakeholders
were: the fishermen, the government (Fisheries Division), the Village Council,
local communities, the public, the landowner, and relevant NGOs.
for a wise practice agreement in this situation (had the matter not progressed
to court) include the following:
consultations individually with each stakeholder group.
all the stakeholder representatives to a general meeting with the media
present. The facilitator could be a chosen neutral representative e.g. a
member of the clergy, an NGO
or a government representative.
of the consultations should come a procedure (agreement) for the use of the
area and an administrative structure to address present and future
conflicts. This would include regular documented meetings of the
stakeholders. Once the particular conflict is resolved, further meetings
would not be necessary, although, from a social point of view, these would
be beneficial. The Village Council could monitor compliance. The wise
practice agreement could be made into a legal document.
Beach Hotel, Picard Beach,
Beach Hotel, Picard Beach,
(standing), manager of the Coconut
Beach Hotel, Dominica, explaining the
events to the workshop participants.
participants walking along
the new access road to the Coconut
Beach Hotel, constructed without
permission on private property. 2001
road was completely washed away in the 1995 hurricanes, and was rebuilt by the
management of the Coconut Beach Hotel, but repositioned further inland so that
it encroached on the land belonging to a neighbour. A concrete archway at the
entrance to the hotel also encroached onto the neighbour’s land. There was
further damage to the roadway during Hurricane Lenny (1999), after which the
government rebuilt it. (Coconut Beach Hotel was also extensively damaged during
the recent hurricanes; the seaward section of the property has been rebuilt in
concrete in the original position, protected with boulders). For the past two
months (May–June 2001) the roadway has been blocked off by the adjacent
landowner forcing arriving guests to walk along the beach with their luggage.
Coconut Beach Hotel has lost some long-stay guests as a result of the conflict.
In addition, there is no vehicular access for ambulances or the fire service to
the hotel. The matter has been taken to court and the judge ruled in favour of
the neighbour because Coconut Beach Hotel had encroached on his property. The
hotel is willing to pay the fine but in return they wish to receive title for
the encroachment. The hotel management have complained that their neighbour
tried to knock down their archway with a sledgehammer. A water-sports operator
who used to have his business in front of the property adjoining Coconut Beach
Hotel has been ordered to move off the property and not to trespass further. He
has moved to another site further along the beach. The dispute is still in court
(The Government has since compulsorily acquired the portion of beachfront
land from the adjacent/aggrieved landowner, and this is to be converted into a
public parking lot, which would also provide public access to the beach (and to
the hotel).That acquisition is currently being challenged in court.).
visiting the site and talking with some of the stakeholders (the manager of the
Coconut Beach Hotel and one water-sports operator), the workshop participants
felt that if a wise practice agreement had been in existence before the crisis
erupted, then there would have been an opportunity for a different outcome.
Again, the group recognized they had only heard the events from some of the
main issues identified in the conflict were land ownership, the loss of land
through coastal erosion during natural events, and the permitting processes
of the Physical Planning Division. The stakeholders were the landowners, the
hotel management, the water-sports operators, the beach users, the Physical
Planning Division, the Lands and Surveys Division, and the Department
for a wise practice agreement in this situation (had the matter not progressed
to court) were similar to those for Batalie, although in this case it was felt
that the Planning Division or the Department of Tourism should monitor
a background of fragmented government responsibility for beach management,
limited human and financial resources, and inadequate enforcement of
legislation, the need to explore alternative methods for conflict prevention and
resolution is readily apparent. LAMAs
show considerable potential. Another approach is discussed here and is based on
wise practice agreements among all stakeholders at a specific beach. An analysis
of situations in Nevis and Dominica indicates there is a potential for such
agreements, although they need to be established before conflicts reach crisis