New publication highlights economic perspectives of Pacific Coastal Zone Management
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USP academic, Dr Vina Ram-Bidesi with a copy of the 'Economics of Coastal Zone Management in the Pacific' book. She is one of the co-authors of the book together with Dr Padma Narsey Lal and Dr Nicholas Conner.
While Pacific people live in a modern world they also have strong traditional ties and are influenced by their cultural traditions. The traditional system is gradually weakening, particularly as it is often at odds with the pressures of individualism encouraged by globalization and market economic forces. Such pressures are more obvious in the coastal areas in the region where most people reside.
These views were shared by Dr Vina Ram-Bidesi, in her recent book titled 'Economics of Coastal Zone Management in the Pacific'. Together with Dr Ram-Bidesi, the book is co-authored by Dr Padma Narsey Lal and Dr Nicholas Conner.
Published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the book was launched by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and International), Professor John Bythell of the University of the South Pacific on 8 June, as part of celebrations to mark the World Oceans Day at the University’s School of Marine Studies.
Speaking at the launch, Professor Bythell noted the timely nature of the book and the importance of using economics to inform environmental policy decisions.
The Regional Director of IUCN Oceania Region, Mr Kami Taholo stressed the need for skills and capacity in this area. This, he explained is necessary because the real value of many natural resources are not known in terms of their opportunity costs and in the face of increasing threats due to economic development pressure and other vulnerabilities associated with fragile island environments.
The book provides a review of studies and synthesizes the key issues and concerns. Using an economic perspective, the study looked at the effectiveness of some of the management approaches used in the Pacific Island Countries and territories by considering their strengths and weaknesses and what could be learnt from their experiences. It showed that economic measures have a strong influence on how trade-offs in coastal development could be conceptualized which can help in decision making on how to best use and allocate funds and resources.
The study was made possible through a project funded by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) through the Coral Reef Initiative in the South Pacific (CRISP) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and jointly conducted by the IUCN and the School of Marine Studies.
Dr Ram-Bidesi said that understanding the coastal zone as a “transition zone” between land and sea and the factors that influence the area are not well understood. The coastal areas are also the most productive and provide people with the greatest opportunities but are the most threatened areas.
“Throughout the Pacific Islands region, coastal resources continue to be under pressure from over-exploitation and ecosystems continue to be degraded. Over the last decade or so, a common set of resource and environmental issues have become apparent in the Pacific,” she said.
These include unsustainable harvesting of coastal fisheries resources, degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems such as mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass beds; increasing solid waste, and groundwater pollution from human and animal wastes. In addition to this, coastal management is complex because social, political, economic and physical factors simultaneously have an impact on the environment.
While coastal environments present an interaction between and amongst people, environment and institutions and is complex to understand, Dr Ram-Bidesi emphasised the need for a systematic approach that looks at the integrated nature of coastal environments.
The authors of the book have several years of experience in natural resource management and policy. Dr Lal has worked in various capacities including civil servant, researcher and research manager, consultant, and as an academic. She has been the Chief Technical Adviser to the IUCN Oceania Office and the Sustainable Development Adviser to the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat. Dr Conner is the Principal Conservation Economist with the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage. He is also coordinating the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Economic Valuation Specialist Group while Dr Ram-Bidesi is a senior lecturer in Marine Studies at USP with research interests in fisheries economics and coastal management.
Several case studies and examples have been used in the book to help grasp the concepts and lessons. The book is non-technical and is a useful guide for coastal managers and others when dealing with coastal zone problems. Synthesized into nine chapters, the book describes the current status and trends, key drivers of change and their outcomes. Case studies on overfishing, habitat degradation and pollution provide useful insights into some of the key problems in coastal areas.
The book is easy to read and will be useful for anyone wanting to understand why some resource management policies work while others do not.