Coastal areas are home to both diverse species and ecosystems as well as sources of people’s livelihoods. They provide vital ecosystem services and important elements needed to tackle rising temperatures and climate change and support people’s access to food, energy and water. However, increased human pressure and urban development along coastal regions might threaten marine ecosystems with consequences on the climate, environment – and human well-being.
SweDev organized a session at the DevRes 2022 conference, arranged by Uppsala University and Karolinska Institute, to discuss how sustainable coastal areas are addressed in policy and practice working towards the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda. The panel was moderated by Mats Björk, Professor of Marine Plant Physiology at Stockholm University.
Coastal ecosystems are connected to multiple aspects of society. Many people live in coastal zones, with several different social and economic activities going on in these areas. Healthy coastal seascapes are therefore fundamental to several aspects of human and planetary life, including environmental, cultural social and economic services, Martin Gullström, Associate Professor at Södertörn University, pointed out. We must not forget that everything – also practice and science – is connected, the panellists agreed upon.
Linus Hammar, Programme Manager at the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, also emphasized the importance of understanding and acting upon the connectivity between coastal ecosystems and the open ocean, including fisheries management. The policies regulating offshore industrial fishing are handled in separate rooms, with very little connection to coastal and local management. This needs to change, he said.
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Local management and blue growth is fundamental
Another issue that was brought up by the panelists was the importance of local management and local blue growth. In Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania, “the coastal community work has really been a good asset to [provide] local management plans,” said Inger Näslund, Senior advisor at WWF Sweden, adding that science can support getting local organizations accepted into local governments. To foster this work, WWF Sweden works in dialogue with many different actors at different levels.
Linus Hammar agreed, stating that local management and local blue growth are critical to sustainable development. Many areas are important for local blue growth, including things like infrastructure, access to credits, laws, value change and innovation. In other words, co-development on local levels is key. Moreover, marine spatial planning, providing guidance on how the sea should be used, is also an important tool for poverty reduction. Many East African countries are doing this already, with promising results for the future.
Written by Alice Tunfjord, SweDev. Edited by Ylva Rylander, SweDev and SEI.