COASTAL and the pillars of sustainability Source: UNEP


COASTAL SUSTAINABILITY Sustainabledevelopment on the small islands and coastal ecosystems has been subject ofdiscussion for a long time now. “Island communities that have survived formillennia with limited resources at their disposal may offer insights intosustainable development” (Kerr, 2005: 504) It is, therefore, essential for these areas to incorporate oceanand coastal ecosystems into their “sustainable development”. Definition ofsustainable development was presented in the report by the BrundtlandCommision, which was published under the title Our Common Future as “development that meets the need of thepresent without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their ownneeds” (World Commission for the Environment and Development, 1987: 43). It isalso stated, by the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987),that sustainable development is not, astate of harmony, but on the contrary a dynamic and changing process where theexploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation oftechnological development, and institutional change are in line with future andpresent needs. Sustainable development is dealing with environmental, socialand economic issues that apply to the three pillars of sustainable developmentand those three pillars should to be in balance (UNEP & WTO, 2005). FigureX below is showing the relationship between these three pillars and twelve aimsof sustainable development. All this is included in the definition by the WorldTravel Organization (1988:21): “Sustainable tourism development meets the needsof present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancingopportunities for the future.

Sustainable tourism is envisaged as leading tomanagement of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aestheticneeds can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essentialecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems”. However,many authors argue that balance between environmental, social and economicpillars does not always occur (Sánchez Medina, Melián González & GarcíaFalcón, 2007; Selman, 2000; Shearlock et al., 2000).  Figure X: Relationship between the 12 aims and the pillarsof sustainabilitySource: UNEP& WTO (2005) Oceans arethe lifeblood of our planet and humankind. They flow over nearly three-quartersof the planet and hold 97/% of the planet’s water (Protect Planet Ocean, 2017).According to IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP (2011) ocean and coastal areas areproviding many benefits to sustainable development, including both human(social & economic) and environmental (ecosystem services).

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On one hand,economic benefits include fisheries, energy, tourism andtransportation/shipping, on the other there are also some hand non-economicbenefits such as climate regulation, carbon sequestration, habitat biodiversityand many others. More than 40% of the world’s population live within 100kilometers of the coast (IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011). The development onthe islands and coastal areas are facing many problems related to unsustainablepractices. »One recent estimate found that at least 40% of the global oceans are’heavily affected’ by human activities.

This has a direct impact on sustainabledevelopment, with the majority of human settlements located on or near thecoasts.«(IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011: 8) Small islandshas, due to their size and isolation, particular features that does not occurin the continental areas. Due to those conditions, McElroy (2000) and Briguglio(1995) argue that they suffer a series of limitations, especially from economicpoint of view.

In this regard, Kerr (2005) present issues of scale and issuesof isolation: (1)  Issuesof scale include: very limited natural and human resources; diseconomies ofscale in infrastructure development, service provision and administration; andthe monopolistic nature of island economies. (2)  Issuesof isolation include: the cost of transport, making manufacturing expensive;unreliability and irregularity of transport, making the ‘just in time’ demandsof the modern supply chain difficult to satisfy; and vulnerability to theimpacts of natural disasters. This issueslead to high dependence on export and import and as many authors and governmentreports have highlighted (Apostolopoulos & Gayle, 2002; Graci, 2013;IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011), Small Island Developing States (SIDS),particularly those with warm climates, depend heavily on tourism (sun, sea andsand as tourism attraction). Tourism has become the industry of choice fordeveloping and less developed regions and, many islands have become thevacations of choice within the mass tourism. Furthermore, as stated in reportmade by IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP (2011), important source of SIDS’s incomecomes from ocean and coastal sectors.  SIDS areamong the most vulnerable areas and human impact on the ocean, especially withthe rise of tourism has many consequences from climate change,  destruction of marine ecosystems, loss ofbiodiversity, degradation of the natural environment, overfishing anddestructive fishing (IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011; Byrne & Inniss, 2002).Byrne & Inniss (2002) suggest that the size of the island is an importantmeasurement, since very small islands are more affected by outside influences.Bloomestein et al (1996) cites other authors (Farrel, 1991; Srinivasan, 1985)that disagree with this statement, and argue that the problems of small islandsare not associated with the size of their economy and SIDS are generally not pooreror less viable.

Instead, wealth andeconomic performance influence on their sustainable development problem. Anotheraspect of island and coastal area vulnerability is related to their natural and geographical characteristics (Byrne& Inniss, 2002; Apostolopoulos & Gayle, 2002).  Ocean is in peril and there isnot enough progress among the three pillars of sustainability. One of theproblems is for example that very little of the world’s ocean is monitored andprotected (IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011).  »One recent estimate found that at least 40% of the global oceans are’heavily affected’ by human activities. This has a direct impact on sustainabledevelopment, with the majority of human settlements located on or near thecoasts.

« (IOC/UNESCO,IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011) “60% of the world’s major marine ecosystems that underpin livelihoodshave been degraded or are being used unsustainably.”UNEP (2011) The fragilityof the nature on the islands and coastal areas as well as ocean ecosystems hasbeen highly affected by human activities. Here are some of the key issuesaffecting sustainability of those areas:  (1)   Climatechange and its diverse impacts on oceans Despite ups and downs from year to year, globalaverage surface temperature is rising. According to Earth Observatory (2017),the global mean surface temperature rose from 0.

6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius,between 1906 and 2005, and it is predicted to continue going up.  Another issue is sea level rise, which hasrisen by 20 centimeters since 1870 and it is projected to rise up to 69centimeters by the 2050 (Carlowicz, 2015). (2)   Destructionof marine ecosystems and the loss of biodiversityThe loss of marine biodiversity is a big issue withapproximately 20% of the world’s coral reefs loss and another 20% degraded(Wilkinson, 2008). Also mangroves have been reduced from between 30 to 50% (Nellemannet al, 2009) and 29% of seagrass habitats disappeared since the late eighteenthcentury.  (3)   Pollutionand waste There are several sources of pollution from land basedsources such as agricultural run-off to discharge of nutrients and pesticides (IOC/UNESCO,IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011) Another problem is waste disposal, which is especiallyproblematic on small islands due to lack of space. (4)   Overfishingand destructive fishingThere are manyinter-related issues affecting the sustainability of fishing such as notfollowing the ecosystem effects of fishing (e.

g. bycatch, discards, destructivefishing practices), bad incentives-based management, weak monitoring, control andsurveillance capacity and inability and/or unwillingness to accept short-termcosts for long-term benefits (IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011).  

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