Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Coastal management sourcebooks 2

Preface

In recent decades, calls for interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary problems have been salient – and often central – in the conclusions of an ever-increasing number of conventions, agreements and workshops. Multi-sectoral from its birth a half-century ago, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization launched, in 1996, an endeavour entitled Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI) to serve as a platform for developing intersectoral solutions to the dilemmas facing coastal countries.

A poignant problem for societies, of late, is how to go about protecting one of humanity’s most valued resources: the world’s archaeological patrimony. One reservoir of such treasures – the coastal sea – has been increasingly explored in recent years. The submarine nature of this long-inaccessible reservoir, distinguishing it from the more easily surveyed and exploitable terrestrial heritage, presents unique problems necessitating special approaches. The need for more rational approaches is all the more urgent in view of the impacts, on the coasts, of advanced development technology and in particular, the advent and easy availability of modern diving equipment.

The coastal waters of the Mediterranean constitute some of the planet’s richest areas in terms of abundance in archaeological relics. In recent years, the city of Alexandria, Egypt, has captured public attention owing to the underwater discoveries of what are believed to be the remains of the Alexandria lighthouse and Cleopatra’s palace. To further explore and develop techniques and strategies in pursuit of integrated approaches to coastal management, the University of Alexandria, the Supreme Council of Antiquities and UNESCO co-sponsored an intersectoral workshop in Alexandria (April 1997).

The present volume contains the edited papers from this workshop. It conveys the information, views and analyses of well-known experts from various disciplines who were asked to bring their knowledge and expertise to bear on the wide-ranging considerations at hand. As such, it provides much useful food for thought for coastal managers who are confronted with the task of finding an equitable balance between the preservation of underwater archaeological heritage and the pursuit of sustainable coastal development.

As the second contribution to the UNESCO series entitled Coastal Management Sourcebooks, this volume offers further insights into managing and developing coastal regions and small islands in environmentally sound, socially equitable and culturally appropriate ways.

DIRK G. TROOST
Chief, UNESCO-CSI

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