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Sharing Knowledge

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


Over the past 30 years, there have been hundreds of international initiatives, programs, and projects by governments, organizations and citizen groups that attempt to more effectively govern the world's coastal and marine ecosystems. While the need for communication and sharing knowledge among groups working to address similar issues in different places is widely recognized, a greater emphasis upon the dissemination, integration and analysis of this growing body of experience is required. Too often coastal management efforts are conducted in isolation from one another; experience is not documented and analyzed, and we are not benefiting from our collective accumulated experience about what works, what doesn't, and why. This produces inefficiency in addressing the urgent issues posed by the accelerating social and environmental change in coastal ecosystems. The Coastal Resources Management Program (CRMP) promotes and practices a learning-based approach to coastal management, and places great value in the sharing of experience.


 As the global coastal population grows, areas must support even more uses, as at the busy port of Manado in Indonesia.

CRMP's primary objective in the countries where it works is to advance the integrated coastal management (ICM) process. Key components of this process include:

  • Broad stakeholder participation and empowerment in decisionmaking

  • Effective coordination among sectors, between public and private entities, and across multiple scales

  • An emphasis on decentralized governance and compatibility between local and national governance

  • Commitment to creating and strengthening human and organizational capacity for sustainable ICM

  • Informed and science-based decisionmaking

While individual programs must be tailored to the unique environmental, cultural and political conditions that exist in each location, such efforts are nourished when they can draw from the now substantial ICM repertoire—both CRMP's and those developed by others—that exists.


For example, we believe knowing how communities in the Philippines developed their community-based marine sanctuaries can provide useful insights to Indonesian practitioners as they attempt to establish marine reserves. Good mariculture practices developed for Honduras can be adapted for use in Mexico. The process used for developing integrated management plans for the village of Tumbak in North Sulawesi, Indonesia can inspire the village of Xcalak in Mexico. And Ecuador and Sri Lanka's experiences with developing national approaches to managing their shorelines helped CRMP move through the process more efficiently in Tanzania.


These materials make the more recent portion of CRMP's considerable coastal management repertoire broadly available. To make it accessible, we introduce our experience by theme and by place.


The themes include the following:

  • Governance, the processes in which public, private and civil society actors organize themselves and coordinate with each other to make decisions and distribute rights, obligations and authority for the use of shared coastal resources.
  • Critical Coastal Habitats, with an emphasis on approaches to and examples of managing and monitoring coral reefs, mangrove wetlands and estuaries.
  • Sustainable Coastal Development, with an emphasis on approaches for encouraging and managing sustainable tourism and mariculture.
  • Capacity Building, with an emphasis on training and educating coastal management practitioners.
  • Learning, including tools and methodologies for adapting programs to new knowledge and changing socio-political contexts, and the application of those methodologies to particular locations.

In another section, we summarize the strategies being used in the three countries where CRMP is currently engaged in sustained programs — Indonesia, Tanzania and Mexico. Through these examples, we hope not only to share what we are doing, but to make clear how different themes are integrated into an overall ICM program.


Many more themes than the five we have highlighted enter into coastal management. Some of the issues that we have found ourselves increasingly involved with and emphasizing more explicitly include equity, democracy, food security, and integrated water resource management.


CRMP recently explored the linkages among gender equity, demographic dynamics, and leadership diversity at an international workshop hosted by the Coastal Resources Center. The work on this topic reconfirms that although the global community recognizes the importance of environment, gender and population linkages in the action agendas of global United Nations meetings, there is little tangible collaborative or synergistic work among ICM, gender and population organizations. If ICM is to make its full contribution to sustainable development, coastal managers must team with others to find ways to better integrate gender, equity and population/consumption concerns into plans, programs and policies.


A women's group meeting in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Gender equity, population, and environmental leadership are emerging issues that need to be addressed by coastal management.

Food security and poverty reduction strategies are the central concerns of low-income countries. As attention to sustainable development issues has grown in recent years, so has an interest in linking ICM with problems of food security. Food security in coastal areas is a multidimensional theme. It is more than just improving the stewardship and productivity of inshore fisheries and promoting mariculture, it is also about reducing coastal hazards and vulnerability, developing alternative sources of income, and building capacity and enabling conditions for income growth and investment.


Democratic processes are central to CRMP projects as they work to give people a voice in the process of formulating public policy, and promoting principles such as transparency, pluralism, citizen involvement in decisionmaking, representation, and accountability. The strengthening of democratic institutions within CRMP countries, along with the trend toward decentralization, creates new opportunities and raises important issues concerning the capacity of state and local governments, and the readiness of citizens to take on the responsibilities that come with participation, co-management and local control.



Tanzania's National Coastal Strategy draws from experience developed through local projects like the Mafia Island Marine Park


With recognition of the critical interplay between freshwater and coastal estuaries, the linkages and synergies of integrated water management and ICM have grown in importance. All around the world, and particularly in arid regions, the quantity and quality of freshwater flowing into estuaries is being dramatically reduced. CRMP's work in ecologically important but fragile estuaries, such as Bahía Santa María in Mexico and Balikpapan Bay in Indonesia, demonstrate the need to better connect water management and coastal management.



We hope you will find the materials presented here -- based on the CRMP publication and CD are of practical use. Please contact us with any questions, comments and feedback, or requests for more copies at: A World of Learning, Coastal Resources Center, URI Bay Campus, South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI 02882; Telephone: (401) 874-6224; FAX: (401) 789-4670; E-mail: Content represented here is also availble on a CD and additional documents can be found at



RESOURCES:  Sharing Knowledge and Experienc in Integrated Coastal Management







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