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


Sustainable development depends on clean, abundant and affordable water. The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) strategic goals of promoting economic and agricultural development, protecting human health, preventing conflict, and safeguarding the environment all demand better, more integrated management of water. Since most of the earth's water is in oceans and seas, and nearly half of the world's population resides in close proximity to coasts, improving the management of coastal regions and resources has been a long-term priority for USAID.

The need for improved management of coastal regions is urgent. Globally, the marine catch accounts for 16 percent of animal protein consumed by humans; the majority of these fish and shellfish are dependent at some time in their life cycle on coastal habitats. Maritime commerce, oil and gas production, aquaculture, pharmaceutical and industrial biotechnology, tourism, and recreation are but a few of the manifold human uses whose value is great, but is difficult to quantify. Add to these the myriad free ecological services such as storm surge protection, water filtration and dispersal of effluents, and the importance of these regions is difficult to overestimate.

But the challenge of management is equally huge; these are systems where sectoral approaches are woefully inadequate. Many interest groups and agencies must work together if progress is to be made. It is also a relatively new field, with efforts in our own country extending back only 30 years, and in developing countries much less. Successful integrated coastal management is ultimately about forging the right balance between competing uses of water and natural resources, while ensuring that long-term environmental health and productivity are not compromised.

USAID has been a pioneer in working with developing countries to improve the governance of coastal ecosystems, and our nearly two-decade partnership with the University of Rhode Island's Coastal Resources Center has been central to our Coastal Resources Management Program (CRMP). The CRMP designs and implements long-term field programs that work to build the capacity to effectively practice coastal governance. It also carries out analyses and identifies lessons drawn from within and across field projects, and disseminates experience and lessons learned through training programs, publications and participation in global forums.

The materials presented offer a significant portion of the coastal management repertoire that has been developed through the USAID/URI-CRC partnership.

Bill Sugrue


Director, Office of Environment and Natural Resources
Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade
U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, DC 2002

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