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


1.2. The Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States: specification of measures to be taken at the national, regional and international levels
1.3. Rio + 5 : managerial approach for application of Agenda 21
2.1. Intersectoral Projects and Capacity Building
2.2. Consolidating and Disseminating "Wise Practices " for Sustainable Coastal Development
2.3. Results Expected at the End of UNESCO's Fourth Medium-term Strategy (end 2001)
Annex 1
Annex 2


Agenda 21, the Barbados Program of Action for Small Island Developing States and the Rio+5 Forum outline steps towards sustainable development. Coastal regions and small islands are of particular concern in view of the intensity of resource-use conflicts among societal sectors, including, amongst others, agri- and aquaculture, fishing, industry, recreation and tourism, transportation, and urban settlement. To achieve sustainable human development, holistic, intersectoral approaches are required. UNESCO's comparative advantage in this domain has been operationalized on the Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) platform through the launching of integrated actions that bring together decision-makers, local communities, natural and social scientists, cultural heritage experts and NGOs. Intersectoral pilot projects coupled with a network of UNESCO Chairs in Integrated Coastal Management and Sustainable Development provide the basis for elaborating Wise Practices/Pratiques éclairées/Practicas sensatas. Through a web-based discussion forum dedicated to this task, example wise practices are being exchanged and commented upon on a world-wide basis. In the present meeting, it is hoped that the role of remote sensing in "wise practices" elaboration and implementation can be brought to the forefront.

Back to table of contents 1.  INTRODUCTION 

Perceptions, understandings and management practices for coastal areas have rapidly evolved during recent decades. Demographic patterns, politics and economic conditions continue to forge social change; scientific discoveries transform our understanding of the impact of our activities on coastal systems, and technological innovations allow us to side-step obstacles by providing, creative and efficient tools and strategies.

Coastal zones encompass the interface between land and sea, but the specific concerns and interest of coastal management concentrate on areas in which human activities strongly impinge upon both the land and the marine environment. Agenda 21 challenges us to think about the entire spectrum of coastal areas - encompassing both the land and watersides - through its call for integrated and sustainable management and sustainable development of coastal areas.

Back to table of contents 1.1.  Agenda 21: Global Framework for Sustainable Development

Agenda 21, a forty chapter action plan, is one of five major outputs(1) that emerged from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development which was convened in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to 14, 1992. It was intended to serve as a kind of road map pointing the direction toward sustainable development via sectoral approaches. It is a non-binding document. Yet in signing the document, governments demonstrated a willingness to be part of the international consensus seeking to move toward a more sustainable society along the lines set forth in Agenda 21.

The major prescription for coastal management included in chapter 17 of Agenda 21, is entitled "Protection of the Oceans, All Kinds of Seas, Including Enclosed and Semi-Enclosed Seas, and Coastal Areas and the Protection, Rational Use and Development of Their Living Resources".

Seven major program areas are included in Chapter 17(2) but only two directly concern coastal areas and small islands : (i) integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas, including the Exclusive Economic Zone and (ii) sustainable development in small islands. They are summarised in Annex 1.

Back to table of contents 1.2.  The Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States : specification of measures to be taken at the national, regional and international levels 

The objectives of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (Bridgetown, Barbados, 25 April - 6 May 1994) were : review current trends in the socio-economic development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS); examine the nature and magnitude of the specific vulnerabilities of SIDS; define a number of specific actions and policies relating to environmental and development planning to be undertaken by these States, with help from the international community; identify elements that these States need to include in medium and long-term sustainable development plans; recommend measures for enhancing the endogenous capacity of these States; and review whether institutional arrangements at the international level enable these States to bring into effect the relevant provisions of Agenda 21.

The Conference reached agreement on the Program of Action and adopted the Barbados Declaration.

The Program of Action includes a preamble and 15 chapters on: climate change and sea level rise; natural and environmental disasters; management of wastes; coastal and marine resources; freshwater resources; land resources; energy resources; tourism resources; biodiversity resources; national institutions and administrative capacity; regional institutions and technical cooperation; transport and communication; science and technology; human resource development; and implementation, monitoring and review.

Unlike Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, which calls for national and international actions, this policy blueprint specifies measures to be taken at the national, regional and international levels. As such, it reflects accurately on the concept of common but differentiated responsibilities. Whereas no major new and additional financial resources are identified in the Program of Action, there are specific recommendations on efficiency and re-prioritization of existing resources. This was reinforced in the statements of many of the donor countries during the High-Level Segment who signaled that SIDS should now receive greater proportions of existing aid.

The Declaration of Barbados, was intended as a statement of the political will that underpins the precise agreements contained in the Program of Action. Casting itself in the spirit of those agreements, the Declaration contains two parts. In the first, the participants at the Conference affirm the importance of: human resources and cultural heritage; gender equity; the role of women and other major groups, including children, youth and indigenous peoples; the sovereign right of SIDS over their own natural resources; vulnerability to natural and environmental disasters; climate change and sea level rise; limited freshwater resources; special situation and needs of the least developed SIDS; economic vulnerability; capacity building; constraints to sustainable development; and partnership between Governments, IGOs, NGOs and other major groups in implementing Agenda 21 and the Program of Action. In the second part, the participants declare the importance of national, regional and international implementation, including the reduction and elimination of unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, and the provision of effective means for the implementation of the Program of Action, including adequate, predictable, new and additional financial resources.

Back to table of contents 1.3.  Rio + 5 Forum: Managerial Approach for Application of Agenda 21 

For the Fifth Anniversary of the Earth Summit, the Earth Council in cooperation with a broadly representative group of other organizations and stakeholders convened the Rio+5 Forum in Rio de Janeiro, March 13-19, 1997. Five years after the Summit, it is apparent that the basic concept of sustainable development is still not well understood and the policies and structures required to implement the Earth Summit agreements are still not in place. One of the major impediments to more progress is the fact that many of the organizations and individuals working for sustainability in their own communities and sectors continue to work largely in isolation from each other. Rio+5 was designed to bring together a representative group of these "actors", to help forge new links and alliances amongst them across disciplines, sectors, institutional and national boundaries so that their successes can be multiplied and that they can combine efforts to remove and overcome barriers to achieve sustainable development. So, the Forum focused on the key strategies and management system for "operationalizing" sustainable development at the local, national and global levels. It challenged participants to adopt a management system approach in identifying the mechanisms and partnerships that move sustainability "from Agenda to Action". It was designed to revitalize the sustainable development movement by building on the experience gained and lessons learned from the successes achieved since the Earth Summit and seek ways to remove the obstacles to action that continue to impede progress.

The most important results of the Rio+5 Forum are the Alliances and Action Plans, with the following key objectives:

  1. Strengthening mechanisms for sustainable development

Local - The Rio+5 Forum identified and strengthened mechanisms for managing sustainable development at the local level. Guidelines were drafted for increasing local participation in "multi-stakeholder" National Councils for Sustainable Development (NCSDs) and other bodies that play a role in management systems for local and national sustainability - encompassing critical areas such as local ecosystems, public finances, social programmes and information technologies.

National - Action plans were formulated for increasing the number and capacity of multistakeholder NCSDs and other relevant national bodies. A proposal was also developed for establishing new funds and other financial mechanisms which can enhance the participation of civil society in national sustainable development efforts.

Regional - The Forum reviewed a range of regional trade, investment and ecological accords - identifying ways to improve their coherence with local and national sustainability policies and practices, and exploring possibilities for establishing Regional NCSD Secretariats and/or regional sustainable development forums.

Global - Discussions focused on measures to strengthen global commitments not only sectorally, but through integrated approaches such as the adoption of a framework Convention on Sustainable Development, and the establishment of a regular forum of civil society and business that could assess progress made towards sustainable development by communities and countries.

  1. Assembling tools and practices for sustainable development
  2. Tools and practices were assembled for "operationalizing" sustainable development, based on the shared expertise and experiences of Forum participants. They will be subsequently published and widely distributed to NCSDs, NGO networks, community-based organizations, business and industry, government agencies, international finance and development institutions, and research and educational organizations.
  3. Initiating campaigns for structural reforms
  4. These campaigns are envisioned to focus on three interrelated reforms:
    • Relegitimising civil society by strengthening the role of communities and NGOs in sustainable development efforts at the local and national levels.
    • Revaluing economic enterprise by encouraging business to implement "values-adding" processes that link producers, consumers, and ecosystems.
    • Reorienting government by defining new norms for local, national and global public interest, management and accountability.
  5. Creating new financial instruments and economic incentives
  6. The Forum will join representatives of civil society, private philanthropy and bilateral and multilateral financial institutions in elaborating new financial instruments and economic incentives needed to support sustainability plans at every level, from local to global.
  7. Building business accountability and alliances

    The Forum focused on voluntary business codes for sustainable development, and ways of making them more accountable to consumers and communities; as well as the forging of new strengthened alliances between representatives of business and civil society.
Back to table of contents 2.  UNESCO FOLLOW-UP (3) 

While mono-sectoral efforts to resolve environment and development problems have shown their limitations, holistic intersectoral approaches are making solid advances towards achieving sustainable human development. Launched in 1996, as a component of UNESCO’s Fourth Medium-term Strategy (1996-2001), the Coastal Regions and Small Islands platform is operationalising the Organisation’s primary comparative advantage: its capacity for integrated action involving Natural and Social Sciences, Culture, Education and Communication. Through joint planning and implementation at headquarters and in field offices, over 20 intersectoral pilot projects have been established in 50 countries, uniting decision-makers, local communities, cultural heritage experts and scientists. UNESCO Chairs are being established to foster these new interdisciplinary ways of thinking and acting, by providing training and capacity-building for environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and culturally appropriate development in coastal regions and in small islands.

Back to table of contents 2.1.  Intersectoral Projects and Capacity Building  

In vertically-stratified societal and institutional contexts, it is difficult to set up an innovative work culture that operates horizontally. Such a transformation requires major shifts in policy and practice. The CSI strategy for intersectorality (as opposed to sectoral juxtaposition) includes the establishment in Member States of:

From initial integrated entry-points, pilot projects expand to encompass other related issues and further broaden their scope. This strategy allows project partners to learn how intersectoral co-operation is best put into practice, thereby enhancing the strength and quality of response to coastal and small island issues.

The above is exemplified by the following five summaries (with complementary details and information available at the web site http://www.unesco.org/csi and http:// mirro-us.unesco.org).

A resource management workshop for Jakarta Bay (Indonesia) was organized in April 1996 through the UNESCO-Jakarta Office, in collaboration with UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. Local follow-up meetings expanded awareness of environmental problems associated with this megacity, as well as causes and possible solutions. Coastal clean-up campaigns were launched along Jakarta Bay and environmental training for young fishermen, teachers and students was provided in the Thousand Islands (Pulau Seribu), off the Jakarta coast. Public awareness of environmental issues was raised through exhibitions and a workshop on traditional market waste management and recycling. Encouraged by these initiatives, local NGOs conducted waste mapping and collected data on the water quality of rivers traversing the city. A public newsletter on integrated coastal management was launched and a fishermen-to-fishermen news bulletin supported.

As part the Eastern Caribbean pilot project, a regional workshop on an "Integrated Framework for the Management of Beach Resources within the Small Caribbean Islands" was organized in cooperation with IOC at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, during October 1996. As follow-up, the "Planning for Coastline Change" initiative has been launched to provide planners, managers, coastal residents and other stakeholders with guidelines for ‘safe construction setbacks’ which minimise coastal erosion risks. Guidelines have been directly applied on three Caribbean islands in cooperation with national planning agencies. Similar institutional strengthening and technical assistance for better beach management was provided through support via the Port-of-Spain Office, to local personnel in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The first African Chair in Integrated Coastal Management and Sustainable Development was established at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop (Dakar, Senegal, April 1997). Students from Mauritania, Morocco and Senegal received formal courses and 'training-through-research' in the field. Supported through the UNESCO Dakar Office, the Dakar Chair launched an international ‘DEA’ (Ph.D. preparatory) programme. In the Saloum Islands, a local NGO organized a forum on sustainable coastal resources management for local communities and a community-based training course with field demonstrations on sustainable mangrove exploitation and reforestation. Some 40 coastal villages of Senegal participated in these events.

The pilot project in Alexandria (Egypt) originated from an international workshop on underwater archaeology and coastal management (Alexandria, April 1997) organized through the Cairo Office and involving the UNESCO Sector for Culture and the Division of Earth Sciences. In response to the workshop's action plan, a cross-sectoral mission of experts in coastal erosion and cultural heritage was sent to assess the erosion problems which threaten the medieval Qayet Bey Citadel, and the erosion control measures which disfigure the underwater Alexandria Lighthouse site. Recommendations submitted to the Egyptian authorities outline phased measures to safeguard the on-shore Citadel and the underwater site. Increasing the project's transdisciplinarity, the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) is co-operating with national hydrologists to evaluate waste water outflows which deface the underwater heritage sites and restrict tourism potential.

Establishing partnerships between coastal cities in North Africa and their counterparts in Europe, a cross-sectoral, interregional seminar (Essaouira, Morocco, November 1997) was organized on the CSI platform by the Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST) and IHP, and in co-operation with the UNESCO Rabat, Tunis, Beirut and Venice Offices. This event launched a network of historic coastal towns that are co-operating in the development of integrated solutions to shared problems such as chronic freshwater shortage, degradation of cultural heritage and rapid socio-economic transformation in the coastal region.

2.1.1. Regional and Sub-regional Foci

2.1.2. Co-operation with Institutional Partners

Governmental: UNESCO National Commissions; Ministries of environment, education, tourism, fisheries, culture, health, planning; Municipalities.

Inter-governmental: UN Agencies (UNDP, FAO, UNEP); Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; South Pacific Regional Environmental Program; South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission; Indian Ocean Commission; European Union; Helsinki Commission; Regional Development Banks; World Bank; International Development Research Council.

Universities: Alexandria, Bhavnagar, Chulalongkorn, Dakar, Indian Ocean, Latvia, Montevideo/La Plata, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Roskilde, South Pacific, St. Petersburg, West Indies; other research institutes, museums and public schools.

Non-governmental: International Council for Science; International Social Science Council; International Association of Universities; Environmental Development Action in the Third World; COASTNET; International Federation of Landscape Architects; International Society of City and Regional Planners; INSULA; International Association for the Study of Common Property; Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation; regional, national and local counterpart NGOs.

Back to the table of contents  2.2.  Consolidating and Disseminating "Wise Practices " for Sustainable Coastal Development 

Background. On the basis of lessons learned from intersectoral pilot projects in association with UNESCO Chairs, preliminary ‘wise practices’ for sustainable coastal development have been formulated and compiled. The pilot project leaders’ workshop entitled "Towards Wise Coastal Development Practice" (UNESCO Paris, end 1998) laid the groundwork for first-stage characterizations of ‘wise practices’ (Annex 2), including indicators and example ‘wise practices’. Further conceptual development has been pursued at local, regional and global levels through electronic discussion groups, as well as face-to-face workshops. CSI’s novel role as an ‘intersectoral platform’ has been highlighted in a brochure distributed in seven languages, entitled "Land, Sea and People - seeking a sustainable balance". Information on pilot project and Chair activities has been disseminated through the CSI website, which is linked to partner sites in Field Offices, UN Agencies, NGOs and universities around the world. Three publication series have been launched, including a UNESCO Press sales series entitled ‘Coastal Management Sourcebooks’.

Strategy. The adopted strategy benefits from the rich environmental/social learning processes on-going in Member States among intersectoral pilot projects (CSI and non-CSI) and associated UNESCO Chairs. Key partners are to strengthen ‘wise practice’ concepts by pooling their accumulated experience and expertise. To this end, interlinked regional and inter-regional workshops are being held, in conjunction with complementary electronic fora. CSI’s clearinghouse capabilities will be enhanced to disseminate ‘Wise Practices’ for sustainable development in coastal regions and in small islands. Recognizing that ‘wise practice’ implementation must be adapted to regional, national and local contexts, initial steps will be taken to develop implementation protocols that are responsive to site specificity.

Back to table of contents 2.3.  Results Expected at the End of UNESCO's Fourth Medium-term Strategy (end 2001) 
Back to table of contents 3.  CONCLUDING REMARKS 

Much effort has been invested in communicating to people CSI's novel role as an 'intersectoral platform' upon which any number of programmes may join forces towards a shared goal. A key element for forging new ways of thinking and doing has been the CSI information brochure entitled "Land, Sea and People - seeking a sustainable balance", being distributed world-wide in 25,000 copies in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish. At the working level, new relationships have had to be negotiated among unfamiliar partners. While some efforts have fallen victim to 'turf battles', others have thrived, envigoured by the comparative advantage of intersectoral teamwork.

The "Coastal Regions and Small Islands" platform makes full use of UNESCO's main comparative advantage: that of combining experience and expertise in natural and social sciences, culture, communications and education. In a world context in which sectoralized approaches to sustainable development have long since demonstrated their limitations, UNESCO occupies a unique niche within the UN System with an enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.

To further exemplify this unique potential of the Organization and enhance it's impact within the UN System, UNESCO Member States may well reinforce the CSI platform for the next Medium-term Strategy (2002-2007), and work towards having other major issues/concerns addressed through a similar platform approach.

Back to table of contents SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY  

Earth Council, 1997. Implementing Sustainable Development, Rio+5 (3 tomes). Earth Council, San Jose, Costa Rica.

Clark, J. R., 1996. Coastal Zone Management Handbook. CRC Lewis Publishers, New York.

Kildow, J., 1997. Coastal Zones: Environmental Principles and Management Strategies. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

UNESCO, 1999. Draft Programme and Budget for 2000-2001. UNESCO, Paris.

United Nations, 1992. Earth Summit - Agenda 21: the UN Programme of Action from Rio. UN Publication-Sales No. E.93.I.11, UN-New York, USA.

United Nations, 1994. Report of the Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. UN Sales Publication No. E.94.I.8, UN-New York, USA.

Annex 1           Annex 2

CSI Secretariat, UNESCO-Paris, 1999

Back to table of contents

Introduction Activities Publications Search
Wise Practices Regions Themes