Chile is a country with thousands of kilometres of coastline (the exact length of the coast depends on the definition applied). Naturally, moving towards integrated coastal zone management benefits a country like that.
The Coastal Challenges editor did a consultancy in the Fourth Region (Coquimbo Region) of Chile a few years ago. One of the results was a set of general guidelines for integrated coastal management in that region. In the ten conclusions/recommendations the local experiences were combined with the lessons learned in coastal management internationally.
The conclusions and recommendations for integrated management of the Coquimbo coastal area are listed below:
- Integrated management of the coastal zone is a learning process with incremental implementation, feedback and adjustment mechanisms.
- At all levels of action, it is important to build the integrated management on a sustainable financial and economic base, for example through self-funding.
- It is important to incorporate in the process the opinions of all the involved and interested parties, for example by applying conflict resolution mechanisms.
- It is essential that the actions keep focus on just a few issues which are understood by all the participants in the process. The focus on the issues means that an exact definition of the coastal zone is not a precondition for the action to begin.
- In general, construction on the local institutional roots is the safest option. E.g. the existing management systems, which are politically supported, can be modified instead of building totally new management institutions. Also in this case, the application of innovative ideas for real integration is important.
- A long-term vision is essential, and as part of this, opportunities should be left open for the future generations.
- The management should be based on good knowledge of the laws of nature. Implementation would need to be proactive instead of retroactive.
- It is important that the decision-making system is just and efficient.
- It is essential to understand that combining sustainable management with the poverty of resource users is difficult. Because of this, development of economic alternatives for the least favoured groups is needed.
- In sustainable coastal zone management, integration mechanisms are only one element. Specific action is needed also in the management of key species and habitats, pollution control, land use planning and environmental impact assessment. In addition to integration, sectoral activities in these and other action fields need to continue. (Naturally, sector-specific work needs to go on, but the sectoral actions should no more be implemented in isolation from other coastal zone activities.)