Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Coastal region and small island papers 10


In response to the challenges posed by globalization and, in particular, the profound social and ecological transformations ongoing in coastal areas and small islands, UNESCO’s platform for ‘Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands’ (CSI), established in 1996, focuses on the equitable sharing of coastal resources and values. Three interlinked modalities – intersectoral field projects, interdisciplinary university chairs in sustainable coastal development, and an internet-based discussion forum on wise coastal practices for sustainable human development – are employed in the approach.

In the Asia-Pacific region, there are seven field projects, ranging from improving livelihoods for persons working at and living near a major shipbreaking yard in Gujarat, India, to developing community-based ecotourism in Palawan, the Philippines. Two of the field projects are located in Papua New Guinea (PNG): one in Port Moresby, National Capital District, and the second, which comprises two locations, in the Moripi Cultural Area, Gulf Province, and the Trobriand Islands, Milne Bay Province.

A university chair in integrated coastal management has been established at the University of the Philippines and another is under consideration at the University of Papua New Guinea. Continuous networking, as well as regional and inter-regional workshops, such as the one on ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Small-Island Living,’ held in Samoa in December 2000, ensure that the different field project and university chair activities mutually reinforce one another.

Recognition of the rights of all people, whether referring to the Moken in the Surin Islands in Thailand or the Motu Koitabu in Port Moresby (both the focus of field projects), is one of the themes of UNESCO’s constitution, and is one of the prerequisites for the successful resolution of conflicts. As the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

‘…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.’

This document discusses the present situation of the Motu Koitabu, a group of indigenous people living in and around the coastal city of Port Moresby, National Capital District, who are the traditional landowners in the area, yet who have become increasingly marginalized as a result of the rapid growth of the capital city. The field project was initiated in 1998 and seeks to address the social, economic and environmental problems affecting the livelihood of the Motu Koitabu people, through the generation of awareness and self-realization. The results of an inaugural summit on Motu Koitabu development, held at Baruni in 1999 to discuss these issues, are described, as are related activities including the establishment of a Special Parliamentary Committee on Urbanization and Social Development, headed by Lady Carol Kidu, Member of Parliament for Port Moresby South Electorate.

Appreciation is expressed to those who have supported or participated in the various stages of the project, in particular Mr Haraka Gaudi, Ms Regina Kati, Secretary-General of the Papua New Guinea National Commission for UNESCO, and Lady Carol Kidu, as well as to the persons, institutions and agencies in the non-exhaustive list under ‘Acknowledgements’. For their contributions in reviewing and editing this report, special thanks are due to Gillian Cambers, Linus digim’Rina, Maldwyn Jones, Robert Parua and Hans Thulstrup.

Dirk G. Troost

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