Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
colbartn.gif (4535 octets)

Coastal region and small island papers 12

1. Introduction

‘Competition for limited resources and space makes coastal
regions flashpoints for conflict. This means that much is at 
stake for the great majority of the world’s countries, 80% of 
which are coastal, located either adjacent to an ocean or to
a sea.’

Dirk Troost
(Workshop opening ceremony, 19 November 2001)

Coastal regions are special in the sense that so many different sectors of society are involved and claim the right of access and use of the resources therein. They are also special in that all too often, no specific agency or institution is responsible for their management. Coupled with these characteristics is the ever-increasing demand for finite resources and space in coastal regions. Against such a background, conflicts are, all too often, inevitable.

In 1992, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro, the world community adopted Agenda 21 (UN, 1992). This represents a global consensus and political commitment at the highest level on development and environment co-operation.

Among the global initiatives set up after this landmark meeting was the platform for Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI), established in 1996 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The overall objective of the CSI platform is to contribute to the development of an intersectoral, interdisciplinary and integrated approach to the prevention and resolution of conflicts over resources and values in coastal regions and small islands.

Three complementary and interlinked modalities lie at the core of the CSI approach:

Background to the workshop

The building blocks of the CSI initiative are 20 field projects, located around the world. They are listed in Annex I, together with the four UNESCO chairs in sustainable coastal development. (Annex I also contains the web addresses for summaries and assessments of the projects and university chairs.) It is within these field projects that wise practices are formulated, tested and implemented on the ground at the local level before being applied to other areas and sites. Eight of these field projects are located in continental coastal regions, and twelve are in islands. As can be seen from the list of titles in Annex I, the range of environment and development issues covered by these projects is extremely varied.

Within the framework of field-based projects, university chairs and the WiCoP forum, a series of meetings and workshops have been held over the period 1998–2001 in order to advance the wise practices agenda and directly contribute to the management of conflicts over coastal resources and values (Figure 2).

Figure 2. 

A wise practices agenda for managing conflicts over coastal resources and values

In December 1998, project leaders from islands and continental countries met in Paris to discuss and further their efforts in integrated coastal management at a workshop entitled ‘Towards Wise Coastal Development Practices’. It was during this workshop that wise practices were defined as ‘actions, tools, principles or decisions that contribute significantly to the achievement of environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, culturally appropriate, and economically sound development in coastal areas’ (UNESCO, 2000a). Several characteristics of wise practices were also defined during the workshop. The concept of ‘wise practices’ builds on previous efforts, which have attempted to define what should be done through ‘best practices’. Acknowledging the inequalities and diversities of the real world, the wise practices initiative attempts to provide guidance on what can wisely be done under the prevailing circumstances. Thus the goal is to define the wisest possible course of action under existing conditions and constraints.

In July 2000, a meeting was held in Bangkok, principally for leaders of the field projects in southeast Asia, during which ideas were explored for advancing, evaluating and linking the various activities (Kuijper, 2000).

In a complementary mode, leaders of the small-island projects met in Samoa in December 2000, to discuss and advance ‘Wise coastal practices for sustainable small-island living’ (UNESCO, 2001a). This workshop focused on mechanisms to interlink, evaluate and advance the field projects, as well as discuss ways to move forward on the six problem areas prioritized for special attention by Small Island Developing States at a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York in 1999.

To follow up the ideas discussed in Samoa, a second inter-regional small-island workshop was held in Dominica in July 2001, ‘Furthering Coastal Stewardship in Small Islands’ (UNESCO, 2002). During this workshop, participants focused on conflict prevention and resolution in small islands, in particular as they related to beach resources. A spectrum of tools for conflict prevention and resolution was discussed. This included voluntary contracts or ‘wise practice agreements’ at a local level and, at a national and international level, ethical codes of practice, whereby moral values can be fully taken into account.

Thus it was appropriate to subsequently discuss ideas for conflict prevention and resolution in the context of continental coastal regions. The results of this workshop are the subject of the present report. Figure 1 shows the location of the field projects and university chairs covered by this workshop.

Workshop objectives

The objectives of the workshop on Wise Practices for Coastal Conflict Prevention and Resolution held in Maputo, Mozambique, from 19–23 November 2001, were as follows:

Workshop participants meeting with 
some of the fishing community at 
Costa do Sol, Maputo, Mozambique, 
November 2001.

The choice of Maputo as a venue for the workshop was particularly appropriate for two reasons. Firstly, the Pan-African Conference on Sustainable Integrated Coastal Management was held in Maputo in 1998. This conference included thematic workshops (UNESCO, 1999a), a workshop on cross-cutting issues and interlinkages and a ministerial conference. Secondly, a related event was held in Maputo the week after the workshop, and the juxtaposition of the two events allowed several participants and organizers to attend both.

(The second event was a Regional Workshop for the Indian Ocean sponsored by the International Coral Reef Initiative, Coral Reef Degradation in the Indian Ocean, International Coral Reef Action Network, and the United Nations Environment Programme – Regional Coordination Unit.)

Workshop programme and participants

The workshop programme is detailed in Annex II. Prior to the workshop, participants were asked to prepare and submit short papers focusing on:

These papers, circulated at the start of the workshop, were presented and discussed during the first two days. On the third day, a field trip was conducted to an abandoned aquaculture plant at Bairro Triunfo, an artisanal fishing village at Costa do Sol, and to a holiday resort in the Macaneta Peninsula. This was followed by a one-day open session with representatives of Mozambique-based national and regional projects and programmes in the field of integrated coastal management. The final day of the workshop included panel and group sessions focusing on:

Workshop participants are listed in Annex III. People from the following countries were present at the meeting: France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Russia, Senegal, the Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uruguay.

Workshop report

The highlights of the presentations and papers, and the key discussion items have been integrated into four main chapters in this report as follows:

Chapter 2: Nature of the conflicts
Chapter 3: Resolution and prevention of conflicts
Chapter 4: Wise practice characteristics
Chapter 5: Ethical codes of practice

The final chapter contains conclusions. Annex IV lists the papers prepared prior to the workshop by author and geographical region; the full papers are available at the following website: www.unesco.org/csi/pub/papers2/mapp.htm. Readers are referred to these papers for more comprehensive coverage of participants’ perspectives on issues related to coastal conflict prevention and resolution in their respective projects or countries.


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