Integrated coastal management in the Pacific
Maintaining the integrity of ecosystems and protecting the biodiversity in these ecosystems is challenging because of the great range of biological, physical and socio-economic pressures involved. Resolution of these complex problems is complicated because of the many institutions (or in some instances, the lack of) and interests that are interconnected and must be considered during the problem-solving process. Responsibility for managing the many relevant activities is frequently divided among different national and local institutions. The result is that one institution’s actions may have significant adverse impacts on the resources of another. Thus in addition to the problem of remote causes and effects, there may be little opportunity or incentive for inter-agency cooperation that could avoid or minimize the externalities. The management responses from Pacific island countries have also been hampered by an overall lack of appropriate legislation for ICM, and insufficient capacity to implement existing management strategies.
Integration of management and decision-making processes is what separates integrated coastal management from other sectoral strategies for natural resource management. The multitude of natural and human processes occurring in the same location require solutions that have a diverse combination of activities. Fortunately, traditional marine tenure is still strong in most Pacific. This can be advantage if these traditional systems are integrated, where appropriate, into coastal management activities as it aids in developing ownership and ensuring sustainability of activities.
When we consider the factors above, fragmented
governance and strong traditional tenure systems, we realize that we
need to take a “three track” approach
to coastal management in the region if we are to succeed in maintaining healthy
coastal environments. To achieve sustained progress we must simultaneously
work at (1) local-level geographically oriented site-management programmes,
and (2) framework policy initiatives at the higher levels of local and national
government, i.e. we need to integrate “top-down” and “bottom-up” management. “Top-down” reflects
the focus of national government along with its institutions and procedures
and the need for national policy reform. It assumes that if the “command
and control” capacity of central government is properly tuned then
proper measures of natural resource management will follow. The “bottom-up” approach
emphasizes activities at the local community level which may be transferred
to catalyze action within the rest of the system, i.e. community-based coastal
The three-track strategy combines these approaches by simultaneously building capacity both within government and at sites. Both government and communities then are involved in the systematic analysis of coastal management issues and in planning for implementation of responsible action. This approach creates dialogue that promotes a common vision and shared purpose. Bringing the user and the manager together provides opportunities for groups to meet face to face and to develop a common respect and understanding. Involving the coastal users and understanding their perception of management actions helps to make the decision-making process more efficient. Engaging local communities gives the community a sense of ownership and provides continuity as it is less susceptible to the continuous changes in personnel and political agenda within national governments.
Integrated coastal zone management must be seen as a long-term approach in some countries. True integrated institutional approaches are unlikely in the foreseeable future. What is needed perhaps is institutional coordination both horizontally (across sectors) and vertically (local-provincial-national), which can be achieved at relatively low cost and with minimal institutional structuring.
Other factors that will contribute to improved coastal environments are alternative income-generating programmes and the use of marine protected/specially managed areas in the management approach. The use of a catchment management/ecosystem-based approach is also becoming more accepted.
Key requirements to create an enabling environment for integrated coastal management and community-based coastal resource management include:
Copyright © 2003-2010 SPREP. Copyright details available.