Integrating Environmental Objectives
into a CAM Continuum

Hari Srinivas
Policy Analysis Series E-011. March 2016

         . This paper is based on field work carried out in a number of coastal cities in the Asia Pacific region. It also benefited from comments and suggestions made during two earlier presentations of this document.

I. Introduction

Coastal cities play an important a role in goods-movement functions of the local industry, as industrial and manufacturing zones, as windows for the exchange of goods and for preventive bases against natural disasters. These functions constantly change with time, catering to changing needs. Comprehending coastal cities as a complex-function space, a consistent approach (from proper information gathering through detailed programme and project development) needs to be built-up aiming at contributing to the continuous growth of the local and global economy.

The key dimensions of coastal cities, particularly the harbours and other coastal infrastructure that they house, include -

  • the critical role that they play in the trade and transportation of goods and travelers and related services,
  • manufacture and maintenance of ships and other related harbour infrastructure,
  • the employment that it provides to a large number of people,
  • recreational and other tourism facilities that spin-off from coastal activities.

For the effective planning, development and management of coastal cities,it is necessary to take a holistic perspective and incorporate it into the larger issue of coastal and ocean management as a whole. This ensures efficient functioning of coastal cities, but also helps reduce their negative environmental impacts.

The objective of this paper is to generate better awareness of the issues of coastal area management (CAM). It highlights the importance of coastal areas and outlines the dimensions of ocean-man interaction. It then emphasizes the need for comprehensive CAM policies to be put in place, and presents a 'CAM Continuum' as a policy and programme framework.

II. Vulnerabilities of Coastal Areas

Rapid urbanization will lead to a number of coastal megacities of 10 million or more people. By the year 2020, 13 out of 15 of the world's largest cities will lie on or near coasts. As coastal zones become more densely populated, the impacts on their environment will also increase, for example, coastal water quality will suffer, wildlife and marine species will be displaced, and shorelines will erode.

Table 1: Top five global cities, by population
Rank Megacity Country Population
Tokyo-Yokohama * Japan 37,900,000
Jakarta * Indonesia 30,000,000
Seoul # South Korea 26,100,000
Delhi # India 25,703,000
Shanghai * China 25,400,000
* = coastal cities
# = along major rivers/river basins

Cities are also in the forefront of climate change risk reduction efforts. Cities, with its population concentrations and diverse lifestyles/consumption patterns puts more people at risk from the negative effects of climate change.

This is particularly true as a majority of megacities have historically been located in coastal zones and ports, for easy access to ocean trade routes. Therefore urban vulnerabilities will come not only from within cities themselves (flooding, poor building standards and slums etc.), but also from its location (storm surges, earthquakes and tsunamis etc.)

Consider these facts:

  • Three out of five persons in the world live within 60 kilometers of an ocean
  • One-fourth to one-third of the gross domestic product of many countries is produced in coastal areas through fishing, transportation, recreation and related industries.
  • The ocean's biological wealth is concentrated along a relatively narrow strip formed by continental shelves, coastal margins and estuaries. These contain major fishing grounds, yielding more than 80% of the world's fishing catch. Here, too, are the world's most productive and diverse habitats: mangroves, saltmarches, mudflats, seagrass and seaweed beds, and coral reefs.
  • Coastal biological diversity is slowly being destroyed as a result of - 1) overexploitation of species, 2) physical alteration of ecosystems, 3) pollution, 4) alien species from distant waters disrupting local food chains and 5) global atmospheric change.
  • The world's fisheries are in crisis. According to FAO, virtually every commercial fish species in every ocean and sea is "over exploited," "fully-exploited," or "depleted." Fish production from most of the world's fisheries has reached or exceeded the levels at which fish stocks can regenerate themselves.

Nearly six billion of us are putting intense pressures on the natural order that sustains us. The life-support functions of earth's oceans are burdened with oily ballast and other wastes dumped overboard, from millions of motorized vessels and pollution flowing from land and air to the sea, along with millions of tons of hard thrash. Oil spills are among the most obvious forms of pollution, but attention is shifting to less visible contaminants, especially the flow of excess fertilizer and other chemicals that are applied to crops, lawns, golf courses, fields and parks.

About 80 percent of pollution to the coastal environment comes from land-based sources, such as runoff pollution. Runoff pollution includes many small sources, like septic tanks, cars, trucks and boats, plus larger sources, such as farms, ranches and forest areas. Millions of motor vehicle engines make daily, one-drop-at-a-time "oil spills" onto roads and parking lots, which add significantly to runoff pollution. Some water pollution actually starts as air pollution, which settles into waterways and oceans. Dirt can also be a pollutant when topsoil or silt from fields or construction sites flow into waterways, harming fish and wildlife habitats.

III. Key dimensions of human-ocean interaction

The ocean affects our weather and climate, provides a home to fisheries, which are a major food source for the world, and is largely unexplored in its depths. As the world population and standard of living grows, nations need to understand the impact of the ocean and the importance of sustainable use of ocean resources. But human activities and utilization of these resources have primarily been exploitative. What are the dimensions of this relationship?

1. Bio-resources utilization
One of the most significant and largest of the dimensions has been the utilization of bio-resources, including fish, seaweed and a range of other resources for human consumption. Global fish production exceeds that of cattle, sheep, poultry or eggs. It is the biggest source of wild or domestic protein in the world.

2. Transportation and Harbour development
A significant amount of trade and transfer of goods takes place over the oceans. In many countries that have shorelines, 60 to 90 percent of all foreign trade passes through ports and are transported via ships. One-fourth to one-third of gross domestic products is produced in coastal areas. Habours play a significant role in this process.

3. Mineral resources
Tapping the oceans for a variety of sea-bed resources has been a concerted effort on the part of many nations. Oil and natural gas have been the most significant of these resources, supplying 17 percent of the world's supply. Phosphorite is a phosphorous mineral known to be available on the seafloor that has potential use as an agricultural fertilizer. Much interest has been expressed recently in manganese nodules, which are spherical concretions on the seafloor containing about 20 percent manganese, 10 percent iron, 0.3 percent copper, 0.3 percent nickel, and 0.3 percent cobalt.

4. Scientific Research
Understanding the lifeforms that have adapted the ocean as their habitat has enabled scientists to learn about survival and environmental effects of human activities. The concern for preserving the integrity of the ocean has grown as a result of the understanding of the various interrelated processes that make up the ocean. Scientists have attempted to understand the geologic and geochemical processes involved in the evolution and alteration of the ocean and its basin, and to evaluate the interaction of the ocean and the Atmosphere so that greater knowledge of climatic variations can be attained.

Figure 1: Dimensions of Coastal Cities

5. Recreation and tourism
Recreation and tourism are the 'non-invasive' (though debatable) dimensions of human interaction with the oceans. It accounts for more than five percent of the world's total GNP. From 20% to more than 80% of economic activities in island nations depend on coastal areas for their survival, in the form of hotels, restaurants, shop sales, tours etc. More than half the world's population live within 100 km (60 miles) of a coastline - this is more than 2.7 billion, putting considerable pressure on the coastline available for this populance.

6. Military objectives
Military involvement with the ocean is less tangible, and has not been well studied in the context of ocean management. Since ancient times, a nation's ability to 'rule the seas' has been used as a measure of its military strength.

The above dimensions of interactions between humans and oceans - food and mineral resource extraction, transportation, tourism, etc. - have had serious impacts on the broader environment - exploitation, pollution, biodiversity disruption, habitat loss, and species extinction.

IV. Need for an integrated approach to Coastal Area Management

Considering this fragility of oceans and coastal areas, and its vulnerability to environmental pollution and change, the need for integrated coastal area management (CAM) has never been stronger. In general, the main premise of CAM recognizes that natural/marine resources are finite and their use must be allocated prudently.

Functional integrity of the resource systems must be protected, requiring a change in human perceptions and behaviours. This calls for a holistic approach through policy, management, and technology innovations, with dynamic planning and management processes responding to ecological and socio-economic conditions and evolving with time.

Preserving and managing resources (seafood, aesthetic, recreation, marine, mineral and other resources) of the oceans involves a multiplicity of actors and actions at various levels. But a variety of obstacles have prevented effective action:

  • limited understanding and experience in CAM
  • limited understanding of coastal and marine resources
  • fragmented institutional arrangements
  • single-sector oriented bureaucracies
  • competing interests and lack of priorities
  • inadequate legislation and/or lack of enforcement
  • land-tenure regimes and other social factors
  • lack of information and resources

In developing a responsive coastal area management strategy, a systematic, incremental approach in generating and implementing projects and programmes should be taken, where the community and general public have a clear participative role from the beginning.

Awareness building and compliance of policies and programmes call for an integration of environmental, economic, and social information from the very beginning of the CAM process.

Mechanisms for integration and cooperation, establishment sustainable financing mechanisms, development of CAM capacity at all levels, and monitoring/evaluating effectiveness of CAM projects and programs should be kept in mind.

Figure 2: Coastal zones

This special treatment of coastal areas calls for a shift in understanding the roles and implications of regional planning as a whole. Four fundamental issues emerge from the above discussion:

  • realization that the larger processes of globalization and internationalization of resources, goods and services have an impact on cities and coastal areas.
  • need for a move away from traditional roles and actions of planners and policy makers, highlighting new tools, new methodologies and new ways of doing things
  • emphasis on the nature of interdisciplinarity that is necessary in the development of policies, programmes and projects, highlighting, once again the need for collaborative partnerships and resource sharing networks
  • approach and understand coastal areas using a more integrated and holistic approach to development.

These issues, in the context of coastal cities, need to be tackled in an integrated and holistic manner by understanding the interactions and impacts, not only in the cities and coasts, but linking it continental shelves and the deep ocean itself.

V. The CAM Continuum

The CAM Continuum being presented here is a policy and programme framework for coastal area management. The complexity of actors, instruments and scope in CAM policies and programmes clearly necessitate a coherent framework within which a variety of activities and responsibilities can be positioned.

Figure 3: The Cam Continuum

With this in mind, the CAM Continuum uses double scales to position three aggregations of actors, instruments and scope of activities at that level of aggregation. The objective of developing the continuum is to ensure that -

  • the right information to be collated and disseminated
  • the right decision-making to take place at the right level
  • the appropriate activity to be implemented at the right level, without duplication and overlap.
The two scales refer to (a) the geographical scale - from local and national to regional and international/global; and (b) the coastal scale - from inland and shoreline to continental shelf and deep ocean zones. Within these two cross axes, three aggregations position the appropriate actors, the instruments that they would use, and the scope of their activities. It has to be emphasized that the continuum is a generalized indication only, and there will always be exceptions (for example, an NGO may operate at the international level, or a UN Agency may implement a project at the local level).

  1. The lowermost aggregation covers the local level that works at the inland/shoreline scale. The principle actors here are municipalities, business/industry, NGOs, community groups etc. Their key instruments are active participation and collaboration, and their scope is primarily the implementation of local planning projects (beach cleaning activities, etc.)

  2. The second level of aggregation covers national governments, universities, consultancies etc. as actors, using legal/legislative promulgation, national and regional programmes as their instruments, to work within the scope of national and regional planning and development (designation of protected coastal areas, laws and rules for prevention of pollution etc.)

  3. The third level of aggregation positions international and UN agencies as primary actors who use international conventions, multilateral agreements and global programmes and projects as their instruments of intervention for trans-boundary/global environmental issues (the Law of the Sea, the 1998 International Year of the Ocean etc. are examples of this aggregation).
The continuum can be further expanded to include other actors and actions at the three levels of aggregation. It is an indication of the coherent and comprehensive approach that is necessary for effective coastal area management.

VI. Conclusions

The key message of the CAM Continuum is the need to maintain geographic and ecological continuity from cities and settlements, to coasts and continental shelves, and to the deep ocean beyond.

The Continuum enables the integration of different scales (from local to global), different stakeholders (from communities and NGOs, to the United Nations), and a policy mix (from laws and regulations, to education and awareness, and to technology solutions) that addresses different problems and issues along the continuum. The fragmented nature of the current mix of policies can be better understood and integrated within the continuum, enabling better benefits and results.

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