How many times have we heard in Coastal Management conferences, meetings and workshops: “We need the public to know what is happening in their coastal areas”, “We need a more diverse and larger number of people involved” “ We need to enable effective decision making”?
But how well do coastal managers and professionals know the public they are supposed to be working with? And how do they facilitate their participation? And then further questions arise: How representative is participation? Are minority groups represented? Immigrants? Youth? Women? Drawing social profiles is not an easy thing to do, neither is estimating who will be affected or interested in a certain project or issue. This is one of the major challenges the Aarhus Convention has laid ahead for public administrations.
In UNESCO’s recent publication on Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management Indicators, the concept of governance is considered one of the three dimensions, along with ecology and the socio-economic system, to measure success in managing coastal ecosystems. Coastal and ocean governance is defined in this report as “the processes and institutions by which coastal and ocean areas are managed by public authorities in association with communities, industries, NGOs and other stakeholders through national, sub-national and international laws, policies and programmes, as well as through customs, tradition and culture, in order to improve the socioeconomic conditions of the communities that depend on these areas and their living resources”.
Inspired by this document and our latest work (see our Conferences, All Party Parliamentary Groups and CoastNet’s Centre for Future’s Research) we have started asking ourselves and others questions related to governance and social issues in coastal areas… . This month we’ve been keeping an eye on the media, and the interest of immigration issues has caught our eye. From the tragic deaths happening along the coasts of Europe to the recent enlargement of the EU together with public concern worldwide about the increasing number of economic migrants, migration has been making the headlines practically every day. On the other hand, the risk of the mobilisation of hundreds of millions of people from coastal zones due to the impacts of climate change is increasingly worrying.
At a European level the lack of integration of migration strategies and regulations has been deeply criticised by governmental and non governmental organisations. Under consultation is the EU Green Paper on Maritime Policy, a proposal to integrate, to mainstream coastal and marine policies. In chapter 3 “Maximising quality of life in coastal regions” the Commission suggests the need for socio-economic statistics available in a coastal format in order to provide a more comprehensive view to decision makers and stakeholders. Illegal immigration has been considered as a coastal risk in this paper alongside climate change, pollution or natural risks.
Just a few of the questions we have started asking ourselves… Is immigration (legal or illegal) an issue to be considered in coastal management? Does immigration have a special impact on the environment? Why are people migrating and where do they go? Do immigrants have their say in Coastal Management issues? What global issues are linked with immigration? Is coastal specific socio-economic information needed for decision making?
To learn more read our review on Coastal Migration.