Skip to content. | Skip to navigation



by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 12:09 PM

Themes in Coastal Habitats: Learning




Systematic analysis of different actions, assumptions and outcomes are fundamental to learning how to improve the success of integrated coastal management (ICM) efforts worldwide. Capturing lessons from experience, sharing them with other practitioners, and taking action to improve ICM offer the opportunity to improve its effectiveness, reach and cumulative impact. Other challenges lie in successfully linking the participatory processes of coastal governance with the best available reliable knowledge.

The Coastal Resources Management Program (CRMP) has incorporated several types of learning activities. One category is the evaluation and assessment of progress, strategies, and management capacities in ICM. This activity promotes evaluation as a planning, decisionmaking and management tool, and builds capacity to assess the adequacy of management and governance structures. This kind of evaluation provides a basis for adjusting strategies in order to increase ICM effectiveness, and generates observations about the features of successful programs that can be transferred to other initiatives.

CRMP has developed and applied a Manual for Assessing Progress in Coastal Management to facilitate evaluation of ICM capacity. The evaluation of four integrated coastal conservation projects funded by the Global Environment Facility in Cuba, Belize, Patagonia and the Dominican Republic was based on the manual. The manual was also  applied to ICM final evaluations in Ecuador, Central America, and to the marine sciences programs in East Africa sponsored by the Swedish project assistance program (Sida/SAREC). It has also been used to guide self-assessments of CRMP projects in Indonesia, Mexico and Tanzania.




Learning from experience and sharing knowledge throughout the coastal management community is advanced by CRMP's growing suite of publications.


A second learning activity is investigation of specific principles and hypotheses of effective ICM actions in individual initiatives or across several projects and programs. Portfolio learning holds the promise of yielding knowledge of the practice beyond that which can accrue from the examination of single initiatives. For example, a comparative study of important factors in the success of some 45 marine protected areas in the Philippines was conducted with CRMP Indonesian partners to improve the effectiveness of marine protected area development in Indonesia.

There is a growing commitment in ICM to learn from and expand the discipline by careful study of propositions of good practice in individual projects and across project efforts. Analysis and lesson drawing can provide practitioners and the donor community with much needed practical information on the benefits of alternative frameworks and approaches to ICM. What methods, strategies and management actions are most effective? How can we better document and analyze experience in order to better understand what works, what doesn't and why in a diversity of contexts?

CRMP and its partners convened an international workshop in May 2001 at Block Island in Rhode Island to explore the merits of portfolio learning, and how to apply shared learning activities within current and future ICM initiatives. The findings and recommendations of this workshop are feeding into key global stocktaking events on ICM such as the UNESCO conference on oceans and coasts held in Paris in December 2001, as a precursor to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in August 2002.

Case studies, other types of assessments and lesson drawing comprise CRMP's third learning acitivity. The aim of these activities is to bring together knowledge about and experience with ICM in an accessible form, and to make this experience available to ICM professionals, donors and policymakers. Case studies are a useful tool for learning from experience in the implementation of ICM. They provide a valuable dissemination mechanism for improving understanding of ICM, extracting lessons learned, and passing these on to others. All CRMP field programs have developed many cases, assessments and lesson-drawing documents that have been prepared by both internal and external learning teams.

Finally, CRMP programs contribute to learning through continuous development and testing of concepts and tools for ICM field application. For example, topics include action planning, project monitoring and outcome evaluation with control sites, survey methods to assess the behavioral aspects of resource use, and outcome mapping techniques.



Back to Top