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South Africa: CSIR Study Brings Coastal System Users together for Common Goal
Source: CSIR e-News - November 2013
Source Date: Friday, November 29, 2013
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs
Country: South Africa
Created: Nov 29, 2013

According to a coastal policy green paper by the Department of Environmental Affairs, due to the high demands on coastal systems, they are becoming degraded, reducing their ability to sustain the flow of services. This project seeks to increase the understanding of these challenges at local level by promoting the participation of local stakeholders, building their coastal management competencies, harnessing existing knowledge and fostering cooperation with the key users of these systems.
Implemented in the Durban coastal area, the project brings together scientists, municipal and provincial environmental administrators, private sector managers, tacit knowledge stakeholders and technical knowledge stakeholders.
“While stakeholders in the area are informed on coastal management, they function in administrative silos, resulting in conflict and ineffective coastal management which increase pressure on the coastal system.
“In this project, we seek to create local environmental competency groups which will result in the widening of the knowledge base and broader collaboration on coastal governance,” explains Taljaard.
As part of the project, a number of stakeholder meetings have been convened where participants have identified what they view as the main environmental issues affecting the Durban coastal system. Among the major issues to be raised were the problem of beach water quality on the Durban coast, as well as the intense competition for land use between traders, hotels, tourists and recreational beach users. These were identified as some of the issues posing an increasing challenge to effective coastal management.
“Noteworthy is the different understanding and perspectives that various participants presented on the same environmental issues. This underlined the importance of building closer cooperation between these coastal system users,” says Taljaard.
The project explores an alternative approach to coastal governance by recognising the importance of existing local knowledge, encouraging local participation in governance, nurturing social learning and promoting local knowledge production.
“Through this project we aim to change the position of coastal societies in coastal management, from primarily being the objects of studies, to being the active and empowered participants in co-learning processes that enable sustainable change,” concludes Taljaard.
Dr Louis Celliers
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