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

Coastal region and small island papers 12

3. Resolution and prevention of conflicts

In the integrated coastal management process it is necessary to work with the local community, but equally important is to work with state institutions and companies. It is not easy to generate trust and credibility in the population but it is essential. The political history of countries like ours (Uruguay) has an important influence on the relationship between the State institutions and the local population. We start from situations where previous frustrations must be neutralized, this generates expectations on behalf of the population. In the participatory process it is much harder to overcome frustrations than to start all over again. Most of our work was guided by a changeover from ‘demanding of the State’ to ‘proposing to the State’.

Clara Piriz and Walter Couto, 2001

Understanding the nature and causes of a conflict is a fundamental prerequisite before any attempt is made to resolve a particular conflict. Case studies, describing the nature of each conflict situation presented at the workshop, are discussed in the preceding chapter. Several of these case studies are still at an initial stage where stakeholders are trying to understand the nature of the conflict itself. Others have embarked on a process of dialogue and consensus building, and still others have achieved at least some degree of resolution.

Conflict resolution is a well-developed field that has been used successfully in many other situations, e.g. international disputes and differences between landlords and tenants.


(Rijsberman, 1999)

Most coastal conflicts are related to the fact that resources and space are finite and subject to everincreasing demand. Scientists can play an important role in understanding the factors governing  resource availability and distribution, and determining sustainable ways of using the resources for the maximum benefit of all the users. There is also a need to precisely define the nature of the conflict, e.g. referring to the private sector versus the community may be misleading, for often the private sector is part of the community, so a more precise description is needed, such as large-scale users versus small-scale users.

Rijsberman (1999) discusses a structured approach to conflict management, which involves first of all an assessment of the scope, nature and stage of the conflict. A basic premise of conflict management is that the stakeholders are fully involved in the conflict resolution process. He further identifies a continuum of conflict management techniques from resolution by the parties in conflict to intervention by a third party. In many of the case studies discussed in this chapter, a third (non-involved) party, such as a village council or a university, has played a mediator’s or facilitator’s role in the conflict situation.

As will be seen in many of the conflict resolution cases discussed here, assisting the disputing parties to reach agreement is only a first stage. Implementing those agreements usually involves a series of short- and long-term actions. For example, if a sand mining conflict exists at a particular beach, and an agreement is reached to stop mining sand at that site, then certain actions become necessary. These might range from finding an alternative occupation for the sand miner, to conditioning the local communities to buy construction sand from other sources instead of taking it for free from the beach. It is in the implementation of these actions that peoples’ attitudes begin to change, so that future potential conflicts over the same issue can at best be prevented, or at worst be more easily managed. Thus there exists a spectrum from conflict resolution to conflict prevention.

Two of the case studies discussed here are further advanced than the others: the Chumbe Island Coral Park and the aquaculture case in Russia. In both cases, participatory processes have been used to build consensus, specific actions have been implemented to make the agreement work, and education and awareness are part of the long-term action required for changing attitudes and preventing future conflicts.

Successful conflict resolution case studies

Conflict resolution in a protected area: Chumbe Island, Tanzania

(For a description of this case study, see Chapter 2 and the paper presented by Riedmiller.)


The Chumbe Park Rangers, former
Zanzibari fishers themselves, patrol the
Reef Sanctuary, 1999. Nowadays,
infringements of park regulations by
local fishers have become rare

Established early in the 1990s (Riedmiller, 2000), the Chumbe Island Coral Park met increasing pressure from local fishers who wished to fish in the protected area. The Chumbe Island management team relied on educating* and convincing local fishers about the benefits they could gain from a small, totally protected area, assuming that natural restocking of the adjacent reef areas would take place in a few years.

In 1991, project negotiations started with a round of meetings in several fishing villages in the area, arranged with the support of the Departments of Environment and Fisheries. The objective was to present the project to villagers and win their support. As the Chumbe fringing reef was off-limits for local fishers anyway, because of its proximity to the main shipping channel between Dar-es-Salaam and Zanzibar, few people felt affected by the closure of the Chumbe reef at this stage. However, villagers demanded preference in employment over urban people, and proposed candidates among the local fishers to be employed and trained as park rangers by the Chumbe Coral Park.

From late 1992, after government approval of the project, and even before the conservation area had been gazetted, six local fishers were employed, stationed on the island, and over several years trained on-the-job by volunteer biologists and educationists. This informal training focused on the basics of coral reef ecology, the rationale of a small totally closed marine protected area, the aims of the Chumbe project, and how to communicate this to fishers and villagers. The rangers were also trained to produce daily monitoring reports and to help researchers with base-line surveys. English language skills and training in visitor guidance were added later.

The strategy of recruiting local fishers to become park rangers, trained on-the-job by professionals on a voluntary basis, proved successful and cost-effective. Working in two- to three-weekly shifts on the island, the rangers continue to reside in their villages when off-duty and have thereby kept close bonds with other villagers. Traditional subsistence fishers responded well, particularly after seeing catches increase in adjacent reefs beyond the closed area. In the absence of marine rescue services in the country, they also appreciated the help the Chumbe rangers gave in numerous cases of emergencies, storms, engine failure, loss of boats or lack of drinking water. There is evidence that several lives have been saved by the park rangers. Due to their commitment, there are now no major problems with infringements from fishers or other users, and the marine protected area is well accepted by local communities.

Employing local fishers as rangers and enforcement officers has also been tried and found successful in the Portland Bight Protected Area in Jamaica. Each year, about fifty fishers and fish vendors (men and women) are appointed Honorary Game Wardens/Fisheries Inspectors by Jamaica’s Head of State. They have powers of arrest and search without warrant and enforce Jamaica’s Wildlife Protection Act and Fishing Industry Act. This has been a major factor in motivating the fishers and convincing them that improvements in the fisheries are possible (UNESCO, 2001a).

In 1994, an advisory committee for the Chumbe project was formed, with the help of the Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of Dar-es-Salaam. Thereafter, government support for the project increased significantly. The committee includes representatives of the Departments of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment, the Institute of Marine Sciences, and local fishing communities. Government officials from several departments, including the Board of Trustees of the mainland Tanzania Marine Parks and Reserves Unit, are regularly invited to Chumbe Island to see the project in action and to win their support. A wide variety of stakeholders were involved when the Management Plan 1995–2005 was developed for Chumbe Island in 1995. Political and public support has been enhanced by the enthusiastic feedback from local and international visitors, as well as the several prestigious international awards won by the Chumbe project (user name csi, password wise).

Public support was further boosted when the project started taking schoolchildren for day excursions to the island, where they are guided by the park rangers along forest and inter-tidal nature trails, and learn how to swim and snorkel over the reef. This is a unique opportunity, particularly for girls, who are not normally given that chance in the Islamic culture of Zanzibar.

In this particular example, a participatory process was adopted with all the stakeholders, including the fishers and government. By involving the stakeholders in the management of the park, on a continual basis, the fishing versus conservation conflict was resolved. The whole process, which took several years, was enhanced by the education and awareness activities.

While this particular conflict has been resolved successfully, the Chumbe project still faces many challenges. Establishing the project took seven years and the ecotourism components of the project did not open until 1998. The occupancy rate is only about 40%, and even with low running costs it is a challenge to keep operational. Tourism in Tanzania, like elsewhere in the world, is very vulnerable to political events. Marketing is a huge challenge, especially as there is so much competition. The conservation awards help to give Chumbe a high profile internationally, which is especially important since its focus is on the upper end of the tourism market. Other events have also had an impact. A coral bleaching event in 1998 affected 50% of the corals, and there has been an 80% survival rate. While the Chumbe management would like to believe this relatively high survival rate is related to the conservation efforts and a healthy environment, further detailed scientific monitoring will be necessary before this can be established.

* Education is used here and throughout this publication, not in the traditional top-down sense of instruction, but more in terms of communication and dialogue, so that information and knowledge is exchanged in order to achieve an improved level of understanding.

Resolution of aquaculture conflicts: White Sea, Russia

(For a description of this case study, see Chapter 2 and the paper by Shilin.)

Aquaculture has been established as a sustainable industry in the White Sea region of Russia. However, particularly with cage-farm aquaculture, numerous conflicts arise, some of which are described in Chapter 2. This case study considered two cage farms, one private and one State-run, both at Palkin Bay, Kandalaksha Gulf, White Sea.

As a first step towards conflict resolution, it was decided to hold round-table discussions with the participation of the local stakeholders, including the aquaculture farmers, the boat owners and the Kandalaksha State Reserve. Aquaculture is a traditional local business in this coastal area, and the different stakeholders hold dissimilar view-points and values. During efforts to reach consensus, a number of potential solutions were identified to address user conflicts. These included:


Tour of aquaculture farm at Belomor, 
White Sea, Russia, July 2002

Following the round-table discussions, specific actions were proposed and implemented to address the conflicts at the two cage farms. These included reducing the environmental impacts by moving the cages annually on the advice of scientists, and optimizing the feeding regimes and types of food. Anti-seal nets were constructed around the farms to reduce the seal attacks. In order to improve the quality and production of the aquaculture farms, training was arranged for students and future farmers. On the educational front, guided visits to the farms for schoolchildren and tourists were arranged. Educational support for this project was provided by the Russian State Hydrometeorological University, and in 2001, one of the aquaculture farmers from Palkin Bay defended a diploma thesis in sustainable aquaculture at that university.

As in the case of Chumbe Island, several steps can be traced in the resolution of this conflict. In the White Sea project, the university provided considerable assistance in understanding the nature and the causes of the conflict. A participatory process was then adopted bringing all the stakeholders together in round-table discussions and developing a consensus for a set of general solutions, and more specific actions, which were then implemented by the stakeholders. The educational component was also very important in this project, not only as it relates to schoolchildren and, through them, their parents, but also given that one of the aquaculture farmers defended his diploma on sustainable aquaculture.

It is planned to further develop the wise practices emerging from this case by:

Case studies focusing on participatory processes and consensus building

As previously mentioned, participatory processes and consensus building are critical to the conflict resolution process. These activities are discussed together, since when dealing with real-world conflicts, it is too difficult to distinguish between them. There can be no meaningful consensus building unless all the stakeholders have been identified and involved in the participatory process.

Bringing stakeholders together: ASSBY, India

(For a description of this case study, see Chapter 2 and the papers by Chaudhary and Joshi.)


Discussing workers’ issues at ASSBY,
December 2001

At ASSBY in India, there are four stakeholder groups involved in several existing conflicts: migrant workers, local villagers, ship owners and the government (Gujarat Maritime Board). Different issues are important to each stakeholder group. The migrant workers are concerned about poor living, health and work-safety conditions. The local villagers are troubled about shortages of water, competition with the migrant workers, and the social differences (language, style of dress, eating habits) of the migrant workers. The ship owners are worried about profits, working conditions and competition from other international yards. The government is concerned about the industry at state level, as well as at the local level. There was considerable suspicion between the groups, and sometimes, hot debates and fights would break out.

With the assistance of the University of Bhavnagar, each group was approached individually and a stakeholder analysis conducted, to determine their main concerns. This was a lengthy process and often started with a long list of complaints. After some discussion, the individual groups were usually able to begin to consider a wider perspective beyond their own immediate concerns. Finally, in May 2001, a meeting was held involving all four groups (Joshi and Dube, 2001).

While the conflicts are not yet resolved, some groundwork has been laid, which may well provide a basis for their resolution in the future. However, this will require the establishment of a mechanism such that the groups meet on a regular basis to discuss and reach consensus on particular issues, with or without the university team, whose time is obviously limited. This will be no easy task, especially in view of the mistrust among the stakeholder groups, as well as the social, financial and language differences. The assistance of the university team may be needed for some time to come.

Mechanisms for bringing stakeholders together: wise practice agreements

In many countries, even when coastal policies are in place and incorporated into law, which is the case for instance in South Africa, management is still reactive rather than proactive. Innovative solutions are needed.

During a workshop held in Dominica on coastal stewardship (UNESCO, 2002), inadequate legislation and limited enforcement of existing laws and regulations were recognized as two factors leading to increased coastal conflict. While it is undoubtedly necessary to strive to improve coastal laws and their enforcement, it is timely to simultaneously explore other options. Such alternatives might include informal mechanisms whereby stakeholder groups could meet regularly to discuss concerns and address specific conflicts. One of the most promising options discussed during the Dominica workshop was a wise practice agreement. (This may also be termed a social contract or voluntary agreement.) A wise practice agreement was defined as a voluntary accord among multiple users of a resource characterized by mutual recognition of rights to the resource. The steps involved in establishing such a wise practice agreement were defined as follows:

  1. To identify and bring together, under equitable arrangements for discussion, all the stakeholders. (The government is of course a major stakeholder.)

  2. To reach agreement on the multiple uses of the resource and the boundaries of the area covered by the agreement.

  3. To develop decision-making procedures, rules of compliance, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

The agreement should be characterized by:

The 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 agreements.

Such voluntary agreements have considerable potential for conflict resolution, and especially for conflict prevention. However, as was noted in the Dominica workshop (UNESCO, 2002), such agreements need to be in place before conflicts reach crisis proportions and proceed to a higher level, such as a court of law. In the case of ASSBY, a wise practice agreement would involve setting up a mechanism whereby representatives of the four groups meet on a regular basis to discuss pertinent issues in order to prevent and resolve conflicts.

One of the most difficult steps in setting up a wise practice agreement might well be the first stage: to identify the stakeholders. It 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, there may be a desire to exclude those seen as troublemakers. 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.

With the present day focus on participatory processes for conflict resolution, the role of leadership is sometimes lost. A coastal manager in the 1998 workshop (UNESCO, 2000a) noted:


The question of who should take the lead in the wise practice agreement or the conflict resolution process is a very pertinent one. The answer will nearly always depend on the specific circumstances and the particular situation. Leadership is a quality that cannot be taught, more often it emerges, and should be nourished as the process evolves.

Creating a ‘place of encounter’: Rio de la Plata, Uruguay

(For a description of this case study, see Chapter 2 and the paper by Piriz & Couto.)

In the Rio de la Plata area there has been intense internal migration towards the coast in the last decade, resulting in intensification of problems such as coastal erosion, urbanization, increased solid waste and poor water quality. To try and resolve these problems and the conflicts that exist at a local level, an integrated coastal management (ICM) programme was initiated. Several workshops were organized with the local population and the various institutions to identify actions needed to improve the living conditions of permanent residents and tourists and the management of coastal resources. The actions included educational and research-orientated activities, namely:

This particular case study, while not focusing on a specific conflict situation, has nevertheless yielded some interesting findings regarding conflict prevention and resolution. In particular, it has emphasized that while it is necessary to work with the local communities in ICM, it is equally important to work with state institutions and private companies. The value of a continuous learning process for each of the different stakeholder groups was also noted. One of the main results from the ICM programme was ‘to have created a place of encounter, where coastal problems can be dealt with’. For without ICM programmes in place, problems often get passed around from agency to agency and from person to person without any progress towards solutions. It is also one of the goals of wise practice agreements, in that stakeholders will have a ‘place of encounter’ where specific issues and conflicts can be dealt with.

Traditional frameworks for conflict resolution: Saloum Delta, Senegal 

(For a description of this case study, see Chapter 2 and the paper by Kane, Fall & Kandji.)

The specific conflict situations discussed in the Saloum Delta focused on disputes between different groups of fishers, and between the various stakeholders involved in the exploitation of shell middens. These case studies are particularly interesting because specific mechanisms are already in place whereby the various groups get together to solve their differences.

Community meeting at Nema Bah 
(Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve), 
Senegal, July 2002

Rural populations in Senegal have a longstanding tradition for solving land-related issues. They rely on traditional frameworks having their own specific rules (rooted in kinship or activity-related ties) and focused primarily on maintaining suitable living conditions and levels of production. Despite social diversity, such frameworks and networks reach beyond ethnic barriers and socio-professional categories to maintain social cohesion. This ensures preservation and protection of the environment and especially the sustainable exploitation of shared resources. The networks strengthen social bonds between individuals and communities and provide a structure to promote development schemes.

Conflicts between fishers in the same village are solved, usually on an amicable basis, at the level of the Local Vigilance Committee, composed of village volunteers who are water and beach wardens. Sometimes there is a need to go to a higher level, the Village Chief. Conflicts between fishers of different villages are solved between the fishers themselves and those who claim themselves as true locals of the area. If this does not work, they rely on the State’s Fisheries Monitoring Services, which then applies the Fisheries Code to help solve the conflict.

Some disparities exist. The lack of coherent legislation and regulations, as well as inappropriate institutional framework, lead to disagreements between traditional methods for conflict resolution and present-day legal practices. In addition, illiteracy of local councillors, and their lack of training in the law, sometimes impedes their objective management of conflicts.

In the case of conflicts over the shell-midden resources, the Rural Council is the first place to go when two villages in the same area are in disagreement. A hearing is held with both parties and then a decision is made. For example, in the conflict between the Falia and Moindé villages, the conflict was solved on an amicable basis when the village notables met and found solutions. The Falia village was chosen as the caretaker of the site, being the closest. The Moindé village has right of access to the site as long as no great damage is done and the archaeological heritage is not spoiled. In cases of continued disagreement, the State representative or Préfecture is called in to settle the dispute.

Thus in this case, there are specific mechanisms for conflict resolution, which appear to be working reasonably well. Stakeholders know where to go to settle their disputes, and generally accept the outcome of the resolution process. There is a need for further training and education, particularly of certain groups such as the local councillors.

Establishing lines of communication for conflict resolution: Omisalj, Croatia and Kotor, Yugoslavia (Montenegro)

(For a description of these case studies, see Chapter 2 and the paper by MacClenahan.)

The conflicts described in the Omisalj and Kotor case studies are all at the very early stage of resolution, during which there is a need to identify the major causes of the conflict situations, to determine the major stakeholder groups and to start a process of dialogue and communication between these groups.

At Omisalj, the movement of a new social group into the coastal area resulted in a conflict with the established residents. A first step is to establish communication between the two groups so as to develop ideas for the common good.

In Kotor, a city emerging from a war, the major problem relates to isolation. In this case, the importance of building confidence and skills was emphasized, particularly in the early stage of ‘reconnection’. Participating in regional and international meetings, as well as in networks, was one suggestion for breaking the isolation and starting a process of communication.

Ineffective and inefficient communication lies at the root of many, if not most, coastal conflicts. Often a lack of trust makes it difficult to get information on development projects from governments, who have a tendency to hide information, especially sensitive material. Many countries have government information services through which they prefer to channel their information.

Case studies focusing on activities to change attitudes

Specific actions at the community and other levels are usually needed to help implement an agreement reached through consensus building and to begin the process of changing attitudes. Some examples are discussed here.

Demonstration houses: Mahdia, Tunisia and Latvia

(For a description of these case studies, see Chapter 2 - Mahdia and Latvia, and the papers by Boussoffara and Pulina & Ernsteins.)

The case study in Mahdia relates to the introduction of tourism to this small historic coastal city and the adverse impact thereof. Following a seminar in 1999 (UNESCO, 2000c), a programme was set up to establish a demonstration house. A building, located in the centre of the Medina between the residential and commercial areas, and formerly used for shops and residential purposes, was rescued from demolition. The main goals of the activity are: (i) to build awareness within the community about the importance of preserving architectural heritage; (ii) to involve the inhabitants, craftsmen, scientists scientists and decision-makers in restoring the building, and at the same time rehabilitating old building techniques and materials, as well as experimenting with new techniques; and (iii) to build associations between local craftsmen and the inhabitants of the Medina, and between Tunisian and French students through joint research work. Local, national and regional partners are involved in this initiative. Once finished, it is planned to use the building as a counselling and support centre for the local population and local authorities.

Tunisian and French students examine
the restoration work of the façade of a
demonstration house in Mahdia, 
July 2002
Detail of the 
demonstration house

While many countries have heritage laws, enforcement is often inadequate. Demonstration houses create awareness among the population of the need to preserve historic buildings. However, care is needed in the use of appropriate techniques, since often people do not know how to use old materials, while mixing modern and traditional materials may not work.

Heritage tourism may provide an opportunity to preserve old buildings. In Zanzibar, a similar situation existed, with the old historic houses gradually being destroyed. However, with the arrival of heritage tourism, the preservation of historical buildings is being encouraged.

Along the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Riga coast in Latvia, one of the conflicts discussed relates to the large number of historical buildings in a state of disrepair, because their owners cannot afford to restore them. With the weak institutional structure and the poorly regulated land market, land speculation by a few prosperous people is becoming a major issue and source of conflict. One proposal here, similar to that being undertaken in Mahdia, is to set up demonstration projects to show how the old wooden buildings can be restored using traditional and new technologies. Tax incentives and subsidies for owners of historic buildings may be one way to help finance such restoration work. However, this would need to be part of a proactive planning process.

Pilot farms: Maputaland

(For a description of this case study, see Chapter 2 and the paper by Vannozzi & Baldini.)

The conflict between agriculture and conservation is complex, and was much discussed at the workshop, not only as regards agriculture, but also in relation to other extractive industries, e.g. mining, and the need to strike a balance with conservation. Extraction of beach sand in Mahdia, Tunisia, in Yoff, Senegal, and in the Caribbean islands was discussed. It was noted that beach sand continues to be mined for construction uses in many places, despite (i) its poor construction properties, (ii) the fact that alternative sources exist, and (iii) laws exist banning its extraction.

Regarding the Maputaland conflict, there was the view on one side, that agriculture should not be accommodated in a conservation area, while on the other side, the communities, which are very poor, are already living in the area and carrying out subsistence agriculture and monoculture. One proposal was to involve the communities in alternative income-generating activities, e.g. in ecotourism and other types of tourism. However, this is a long-term approach, and is not likely to improve the standard of living of the communities in the immediate future.

Another proposal under consideration is to establish pilot farms. These farms could screen plants used in local agriculture, e.g. groundnut, sunflower and other oil crops, assess their suitability, and screen plant material for breeding purposes. The farms would also test cropping systems and new techniques, as well as provide training for the farmers and agricultural extension officers. The University of Zululand has already investigated the production of other crops in northeast Kwa-Zulu-Natal, e.g. indigenous fruits, which could also be used in a future ecotourism industry. Any approach to improving agriculture in the area should be based on rural innovation and linking the farmers to the market, particularly the development of agro-industries which provide employment and income, food security, and help in poverty eradication.

A postgraduate university course in industrial crop production is scheduled to start at the University of Zululand in 2002. This will also provide capacity building for future agricultural development in the area.


(Mr Vidyut Joshi, Workshop discussion, Maputo, 2001)

Whether these measures and proposals for agricultural improvement turn out to be interim or long-term solutions in Maputaland, the debate continues as to whether an extractive industry such as agriculture should be permitted in a conservation area.

Community environmental committees: Jakarta Metropolitan Area, Indonesia

(For a description of this case study, see Chapter 2 and the paper by Fazi et al.)


The Jakarta case study deals with a major environmental problem rather than a specific conflict situation. Nevertheless, many of the ideas emerging from the workshop are also important for raising awareness and changing attitudes.

A community approach, likely to produce short-term results, was adopted in selected neighbourhoods of Jakarta to improve the waste management system. Identifying a small core group from among the residents of the community was the first step. This core group then formed an environmental committee, which represented the entire community (women, men, youth, local authorities). With the assistance of external experts and special training sessions, the environmental committee mobilized and shared information with other community members. This brought about an internal transfer of knowledge within the community that facilitated the understanding and participation of the more reluctant members.


Group discussion during workshop for
fishers at Pari Island, Indonesia, 1997

Students learning the process of paper
recycling, Jakarta, Indonesia, 1999

Specific activities focused on sorting and recycling the waste, creating alternative livelihood activities and greening programmes. At the Bintaro traditional market, organic waste was separated from other waste and used for composting. The compost was then sold providing income for the vendors. In the Banjarsari neighbourhood, a recycling centre was established where young people recycle paper and carry out composting. The villagers also plant medicinal herbs in the compost. A second community-based recycling centre has been set up in Kapuk Muara. It was found that people responded differently to particular activities. Some people in the community reacted positively to having a cleaner environment, e.g. clean and green the kampung, and others responded to economic incentives, e.g. additional income from selling the recycled products and compost.

These community activities are combined with environmental education. Study tours for community leaders and students are regularly organized to show them the condition of the coastal environment and to provide them with an understanding of the relationship between inland waste production and its effect of worsening the condition of the local rivers and sea. The study tours are always combined with panel discussions on possible solutions. Training courses on waste management, composting, recycling, marketing of recycled products and co-operative management have been regularly carried out. Usually these training sessions include a visit to one of the pilot project sites to demonstrate activities. Often it is the communities in these pilot areas that train other communities. Training sessions are concluded with discussions on how to adapt these activities to the participants’ local environmental and social circumstances. Training and environmental education courses are also organized in schools. In some schools the students have already started a new school waste management system, including composting in the school garden and paper recycling.

In order to ensure the community has a sense of ownership of the project, it is important to start from knowledge already present in the community, and then enhance community capacity with input from external experts. An example of this was a competition to design bins for sorting waste. Waste-bin prototype designs were selected and constructed and are now being tested. Project results are shared within the local community so that people see the positive results from their own initiatives and accomplishments.

Raising public awareness: Lagos, Nigeria and Latvia

(For a description of these case studies, see Chapter 2 - Lagos and Latvia, and the papers by Folorunsho & Awosika and Pulina & Ernsteins.)

The Lagos environmental problem, previously discussed, relates to flooding during the rainy season, which disrupts people’s lives. Much of the flooding is the result of indiscriminate dumping of rubbish into the drainage channels. It was decided to try and approach this problem on two fronts simultaneously. Firstly, to present recommendations to the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning for the necessary engineering improvements to the drainage channels, and secondly to conduct a public awareness campaign to discourage dumping of solid refuse in the drainage channels.

A successful media and public forum was conducted on 6 June 2000. More than 200 people attended, including representatives from several government agencies, print media, radio and television stations. Ironically, some of the invited guests could not attend because of the flooding that took place that day following heavy rains. After this public forum, and with the assistance of the NGO, ‘Clean-up Nigeria’, a public awareness campaign was conducted over a period of several months, using print and electronic media, street theatre and community meetings, talk shows and media chats. The goal was to inform all groups of society about the adverse effects of dumping waste in the drainage channels. These activities are ongoing, but it is likely that further actions will be needed to effect behavioural changes. These may include continuation of the education and awareness programme, implementation of the proposed engineering measures, and possibly also specific community-based activities, similar to those undertaken in Jakarta.

In Latvia, where one of the conflicts relates to land speculation in a sparsely populated coastal area, it was recognized that the time of the command economy had passed, and that local government only has sufficient funds for day-to-day needs, not for future planning. A suggested first step is to focus on communication through a widespread information and public relations campaign. Schools should also be involved in these activities.

Role of the university chairs in conflict resolution

Several of the conflict resolution case studies described in this chapter have benefited from the involvement and leadership of universities, e.g. the University of Bhavnagar in ASSBY, the Universities of Zululand and Udine (Italy) in the Maputaland case, and the Russian State Hydrometeorological University in the White Sea conflict.

Universities and other research institutions, and in particular the UNESCO university chairs, can play an important role in conflict resolution. They command a certain degree of respect within the community, and bring the advantages of impartiality, a detailed knowledge base and a broad interdisciplinary perspective. They can work together with the stakeholders to facilitate understanding of the factors governing the particular conflict, which, as already noted, is an important first step in conflict resolution.

However, in order to assist in the conflict resolution process, and to bring together people of different interests, backgrounds, institutions, sectors and vocations, there needs to be common terms of reference for all the stakeholders. Often, there are difficulties in communication between scientists from different areas of expertise, between coastal managers and resource users, and as seen in the case of ASSBY, between the different stakeholder groups.

Universities and UNESCO chairs can contribute to conflict resolution in three ways: (i) through building capacity for a better understanding of the factors governing resource availability and distribution; (ii) through promotion of communication between scientists with different areas of expertise (interdisciplinary research); and (iii) through the promotion of interaction between scientists, coastal managers and resource users.

For example, the UNESCO chair at the University of Maputo in Mozambique is conducting studies into the runoff of the Incomati River so as to maintain the health of downstream and coastal ecosystems. This will provide needed information for water managers and users to help mitigate water-use conflicts.

Concluding comments

An examination of the conflict resolution case studies described in this chapter presents many lessons. Consensus building using participatory processes is a very important tool in building agreement on how to resolve conflicts. But in order to actually implement the particular agreements, other actions usually need to be undertaken, e.g. specific stakeholder activities, education and raising awareness. By helping to change people’s attitudes, future conflicts may be less serious or even prevented.

Education is not only a formal activity. People learn by ‘doing’, as seen in the sorting of waste and recycling in Jakarta. Another common thread running through all these case studies concerns the time factor. Resolving conflicts may be a very time-consuming process, which transcends project time frames. The need to persevere with conflict resolution can be seen clearly at Chumbe Island in Tanzania, at the White Sea in Russia and in ASSBY in India. Preventing future conflicts may involve a different and longer time scale.

One of the interesting concepts proposed in the Uruguay case study, was the need to establish a ‘place of encounter’. This is not necessarily a place in the geographical sense of the word, but more a process or mechanism such that the conflicting parties know how to go about resolving the conflict. Such a ‘place of encounter’ might be a wise practice agreement.


Start Introduction Activities Publications Search
Wise Practices Regions Themes