COASTAL development meets the needs of present tourists

COASTAL SUSTAINABILITY

 

Sustainable
development on the small islands and coastal ecosystems has been subject of
discussion for a long time now. “Island communities that have survived for
millennia with limited resources at their disposal may offer insights into
sustainable development” (Kerr, 2005: 
504) It is, therefore, essential for these areas to incorporate ocean
and coastal ecosystems into their “sustainable development”. Definition of
sustainable development was presented in the report by the Brundtland
Commision, which was published under the title Our Common Future as “development that meets the need of the
present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own
needs” (World Commission for the Environment and Development, 1987: 43). It is
also stated, by the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987),
that sustainable development is not, a
state of harmony, but on the contrary a dynamic and changing process where the
exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of
technological development, and institutional change are in line with future and
present needs. Sustainable development is dealing with environmental, social
and economic issues that apply to the three pillars of sustainable development
and those three pillars should to be in balance (UNEP & WTO, 2005). Figure
X below is showing the relationship between these three pillars and twelve aims
of sustainable development. All this is included in the definition by the World
Travel Organization (1988:21): “Sustainable tourism development meets the needs
of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing
opportunities for the future. Sustainable tourism is envisaged as leading to
management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic
needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential
ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems”. However,
many authors argue that balance between environmental, social and economic
pillars does not always occur (Sánchez Medina, Melián González & García
Falcón, 2007; Selman, 2000; Shearlock et al., 2000).

 

Figure X: Relationship between the 12 aims and the pillars
of sustainability

Source: UNEP
& WTO (2005)

 

Oceans are
the lifeblood of our planet and humankind. They flow over nearly three-quarters
of the planet and hold 97/% of the planet’s water (Protect Planet Ocean, 2017).
According to IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP (2011) ocean and coastal areas are
providing many benefits to sustainable development, including both human
(social & economic) and environmental (ecosystem services). On one hand,
economic benefits include fisheries, energy, tourism and
transportation/shipping, on the other there are also some hand non-economic
benefits such as climate regulation, carbon sequestration, habitat biodiversity
and many others. More than 40% of the world’s population live within 100
kilometers of the coast (IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011). The development on
the islands and coastal areas are facing many problems related to unsustainable
practices.

 

»One recent estimate found that at least 40% of the global oceans are
‘heavily affected’ by human activities. This has a direct impact on sustainable
development, with the majority of human settlements located on or near the
coasts.«

(IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011: 8)

 

Small islands
has, due to their size and isolation, particular features that does not occur
in the continental areas. Due to those conditions, McElroy (2000) and Briguglio
(1995) argue that they suffer a series of limitations, especially from economic
point of view. In this regard, Kerr (2005) present issues of scale and issues
of isolation:

 

(1)  
Issues
of scale include: very limited natural and human resources; diseconomies of
scale in infrastructure development, service provision and administration; and
the monopolistic nature of island economies.

(2)  
Issues
of isolation include: the cost of transport, making manufacturing expensive;
unreliability and irregularity of transport, making the ‘just in time’ demands
of the modern supply chain difficult to satisfy; and vulnerability to the
impacts of natural disasters.

 

This issues
lead to high dependence on export and import and as many authors and government
reports have highlighted (Apostolopoulos & Gayle, 2002; Graci, 2013;
IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011), Small Island Developing States (SIDS),
particularly those with warm climates, depend heavily on tourism (sun, sea and
sand as tourism attraction). Tourism has become the industry of choice for
developing and less developed regions and, many islands have become the
vacations of choice within the mass tourism. Furthermore, as stated in report
made by IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP (2011), important source of SIDS’s income
comes from ocean and coastal sectors.

 

SIDS are
among the most vulnerable areas and human impact on the ocean, especially with
the rise of tourism has many consequences from climate change,  destruction of marine ecosystems, loss of
biodiversity, degradation of the natural environment, overfishing and
destructive fishing (IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011; Byrne & Inniss, 2002).
Byrne & Inniss (2002) suggest that the size of the island is an important
measurement, since very small islands are more affected by outside influences.
Bloomestein et al (1996) cites other authors (Farrel, 1991; Srinivasan, 1985)
that disagree with this statement, and argue that the problems of small islands
are not associated with the size of their economy and SIDS are generally not poorer
or less viable. Instead, wealth and
economic performance influence on their sustainable development problem. Another
aspect of island and coastal area vulnerability is related to their natural and geographical characteristics (Byrne
& Inniss, 2002; Apostolopoulos & Gayle, 2002).

 

Ocean is in peril and there is
not enough progress among the three pillars of sustainability. One of the
problems is for example that very little of the world’s ocean is monitored and
protected (IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011).

 

»One recent estimate found that at least 40% of the global oceans are
‘heavily affected’ by human activities. This has a direct impact on sustainable
development, with the majority of human settlements located on or near the
coasts.«

(IOC/UNESCO,
IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011)

 

“60% of the world’s major marine ecosystems that underpin livelihoods
have been degraded or are being used unsustainably.”

UNEP (2011)

 

The fragility
of the nature on the islands and coastal areas as well as ocean ecosystems has
been highly affected by human activities. Here are some of the key issues
affecting sustainability of those areas:

 

(1)   Climate
change and its diverse impacts on oceans

Despite ups and downs from year to year, global
average surface temperature is rising. According to Earth Observatory (2017),
the global mean surface temperature rose from 0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius,
between 1906 and 2005, and it is predicted to continue going up.  Another issue is sea level rise, which has
risen by 20 centimeters since 1870 and it is projected to rise up to 69
centimeters by the 2050 (Carlowicz, 2015).

(2)   Destruction
of marine ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity

The loss of marine biodiversity is a big issue with
approximately 20% of the world’s coral reefs loss and another 20% degraded
(Wilkinson, 2008). Also mangroves have been reduced from between 30 to 50% (Nellemann
et al, 2009) and 29% of seagrass habitats disappeared since the late eighteenth
century. 

(3)   Pollution
and waste

There are several sources of pollution from land based
sources such as agricultural run-off to discharge of nutrients and pesticides (IOC/UNESCO,
IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011) Another problem is waste disposal, which is especially
problematic on small islands due to lack of space.

(4)   Overfishing
and destructive fishing

There are many
inter-related issues affecting the sustainability of fishing such as not
following the ecosystem effects of fishing (e.g. bycatch, discards, destructive
fishing practices), bad incentives-based management, weak monitoring, control and
surveillance capacity and inability and/or unwillingness to accept short-term
costs for long-term benefits (IOC/UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP, 2011).