Integrated Coastal Resource Management: A Prescription for Sustainable Development

By English, Brian J. | Electronic Green Journal, January 1, 2003 | Go to article overview

Integrated Coastal Resource Management: A Prescription for Sustainable Development


English, Brian J., Electronic Green Journal


Environmental problems due to the human impact of growing urban populations in coastal areas necessitate an integrated approach to coastal resource management as a move toward sustainable development. Steps toward sustainable development of coastal communities should involve researchers, educators, and planners from a coordinated network of international aid agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), national policy makers, and local communities. Hence, this paper aims to explain how international aid agencies and NGOs interact with national policy makers and local communities in integrated coastal management programs to promote sustainable development. From an examination of international agencies' roles in development, NGOs emerge as a counterweight to balance the perspective of development. Specific examples of several integrated coastal management programs explicate an understanding of organizational and institutional interaction in this process. Finally, some comments about social movements and their appropriateness for raising consciousness about environmental degradation through non-formal education programs will be given.

"There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things."

Machiavelli, The Prince, 1513

Throughout history civilizations have developed on the water's edge. For thousands of years humans have had a close relationship with the sea. The vast resources of the oceans are an essential element for the survival of coastal communities. Ironically, the world's marine environments are also disposal systems for human generated waste. It may be an overgeneralization, but there is some truth in saying, "Everything comes from the sea and everything returns to the sea." The implication is that since the oceans have limited resources, there is a need to minimize the impact that the growing size and number of coastal communities have on marine environments. Although non-coastal communities also have pressing environmental issues, maintaining sustainability in coastal development is particularly important because "more than half the world's population lives within 60 km of the shoreline, and this could rise to three quarters by the year 2020" (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development [UNCED], 1992, para. 7.3). At the advent of the 21st century there are 20 cities in the world with a population of over 10 million. Sixteen of those cities are along coastlines. Growing populations not only put a greater strain on already depleting resources, but also are responsible for the degradation of marine habitats for those resources. According to the report of the Independent World Commission on the Oceans (1998), over 70% of the world's fish stocks are being exploited at or even beyond sustainable limits. "Over 80% of all marine pollution originates from land-based sources which are primarily industrial, agricultural and urban" (UNCED, 1992).The need to rethink development planning in coastal areas is undeniable. Steps toward sustainable development of coastal communities should involve researchers, educators, and planners from a coordinated network of international aid agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), national policy makers, and local communities. Hence, this paper aims to explain how international aid agencies and NGOs interact with national policy makers and local communities in integrated coastal management programs to promote sustainable development.

After defining the problem of development in coastal areas this paper will briefly discuss sustainable development as a goal, and integrated coastal management (ICM) as a vehicle for moving toward that goal. From an examination of international agencies' roles in development, NGOs emerge as a counterweight to balance the perspective of development. Specific examples of several integrated coastal management programs explicate an understanding of organizational and institutional interaction in this process.

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Integrated Coastal Resource Management: A Prescription for Sustainable Development
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