Peter is Professor Emeritus for Coastal Management at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Before taking early retirement he held the Research Development Chair in Coastal Management at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. His main responsibility was to develop a research programme which addresses the need for improved scientific information relevant to the sustainable use of coastal areas and natural resources, and the effective use of such information in policy formulation, planning and management. His research work outside the university is closely linked to the Land Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone programme (LOICZ) where he served on the Scientific Steering Committee and was a lead author for the synthesis of the LOICZ research. He has more than 35 years of experience as a teacher and a practitioner in this field. The majority of his work has been associated with resources management in developing countries, including applied research, training, and project formulation and assessment. He has acted as the scientific and management advisor for a major study on the Wadden Sea for the governments of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). He helped prepare a training manual on environmental considerations in the design of sustainable agriculture projects for the UNFAO. He has also assisted the UNFAO in developing a new programme for integrated fisheries and coastal management.
M.D.- Which are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
P.B.- I suppose its about being involved in the practice of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and trying to sort out problems and improving comprehension of what it is all about: ICZM is essentially a development planning tool that can support the sustainable use of coastal areas and the resources derived from coastal systems. In that sense it has been interesting to have the opportunity to use all the different disciplines I have been exposed to (geography, economics, biology, spatial planning, environmental management) throughout my life and to apply them in an integrated way in ICZM.
In the end, learning from practical field experiences has proved to be essential to illustrate with examples to students of what ICZM tools work and those that don’t work on the ground. To learn from the stupid things we may have done in the past and to share this knowledge with the next generation of Coastal Managers is very positive.
M.D.- What do you like most about working in developing countries?
P.B.- It is about trying to understand the cultural interpretation of a the people from a certain region and how their coastal ecosystem functions. Coming from the West you’re trying to read a different environment and a different culture at the same time, and you need to open your eyes wide and listen carefully to what they have to say. We cannot arrive with -one size fits all –solutions. It is fascinating and challenging to work in these countries, but Coastal Management must be developed on their – the local community’s terms.
M.D.- How do you think Climate Change will affect our children’s lives?
P.B.- I don’t have a crystal ball, but it is clear that people underestimate the impacts of climate change. as we’re constantly making mistakes. For example, constructing a nuclear power station on an eroding coast. The key to answer this question is to understand how humans interact with, and are part of, coastal processes.
Coastal systems are very dynamic and there are natural hazards associated with developing human activities in coastal areas. These natural hazards will increase with climate change. Poor planning and management in coastal areas and in watersheds upstream make people, property as well as public and private investment more vulnerable to the risks associated with coastal hazards, such as flooding, erosion, and tsunamis.
We should be focusing on Global Change rather than Climate Change alone. For example, humans have constructed thousands of dams, which have changed the hydrodynamics of rivers and their sediment and nutrients inputs to coastal seas. In the same way, many coasts are changing because of human alterations to the coastline
We recently carried out a study within the LOICZ (Land – Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone) project, in which we used the best available natural and social science to demonstrate how terrestrial and marine systems interact in the coastal zone.. It was clear from this work that man has made very substantial changes to land-ocean interactions that are not generally understood by managers and politicians. As a result people to focus on climate change and to pay far less attention to Global Change, including man’s influence on terrestrial systems and their influence of coastal and marine systems.
The concern about sea level rise, the increase in the frequency and severity of storms, and weather related disasters affecting coastal regions should be balanced with the search for ways to reduce risks to coastal activities and to mitigate the adverse effects of changes caused by poorly planned and managed human activities in terrestrial and marine environments. The outcome of Global Change will mean that coastal development, if it is not well planned, will become more vulnerable to natural and man- made hazards. There will be increased risksto life, people’s property, and industry that could undermine socio-economic systems. If we are serious about sustaining the development of human social and economic welfare, we need to use integrated coastal zone management as an integral part of planning for and managing regional and national development.
M.D.- You have experience working with International Organisations, which are the greatest difficulties of working at this level?
P.B.- There are many opportunities out there to change the ways people think and act in working towards sustainable policies for Coastal Management.
But international agencies have short time frames for their agendas. When we talk about strengthening Coastal Management in developing countries we must recognise that it takes time to strengthen human resources, build more effective institutions , and to develop the right tools, etc. So when you go to donors you are looking to secure a minimum of ten years funding to achieve a robust Integrated Coastal Zone Management process into place and working, but donors find it difficult to fund projects for this length of time.
There is a need for improved technical and funding resources to support the development of Integrated Coastal Zone Management as a developmentplanning tool, but most nations can rarely access the necessary long term commitment from international donors. It has happened from time to time, but is still one of our major difficulties.
This problem also occurred in the EC funding scheme for ICZM. From 1996 to 1999 the UC funded 35 ICZM projects in 17 countries in Europe through the Demonstration Programme. After this, their position was `we’ve been catalysts to initiate the processes, now its up to individual nations to keep it up’. But it hasn’t happened. You can see a genesis of a process with short term funding but these projects have been abandoned too soon and most have ceased to develop. This sets a poor example for the rest of the World!
M.D.- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
P.B.- Being at home, because I travel so much. I like sailing, gardening (growing my own vegetables) and doing things with my hands like making furniture or model engineering that let my mind free to process thoughts and ideas. I also enjoy going out fishing and enjoying the peace and quiet of a river.
M.D.- If you could just give one message to the people that work inIntegrated Coastal and Ocean Management, what would that message be?
P.B.- I think it is a tremendous professional challenge to stimulate and help sustain Integrated Coastal Zone Management as a robust development planning process, versus the option of just taking narrow concerns about certain issues.
ICZM is about promoting broader views of how coastal systems function and respond to human needs and aspirations. In planning for and managing more sustainable use of coastal systems we need to develop a broader framework that integrates social, cultural, economic and environmental factors than is normally used in planning for development within individual economic secotors. . We have to treat ICZM as a positive tool to help us meet sustainable development objectives.