Integrated Coastal Zone Management urged at the IUCN seminar

 Enabling policies and effective action can help the country cope with emerging challenges of climate change and water shortage.

Karachi, July 14, 2008 (IUCN) – A seminar titled “Coping with Coastal and Marine Challenges: Pan Asia Learning” was organized by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) on July 14, 2008 at Avari Towers, Karachi. The purpose of the seminar was to benefit from the expertise of leading experts from Asia region on the importance of coastal ecosystems.

Boat at Balochistan

The seminar was attended by a large number of stakeholders, including heads of various government departments, IUCN members, subject specialists, researchers, representatives of civil society organizations, corporate sector, academia and media.

Setting the context for the event, Ms. Nikhat Sattar, Head IUCN Country Group (Pakistan and Nepal) indentified the main issues faced: heavy pollution of the sea through discharge of effluents; massive cutting of mangroves; increasing vulnerability of our coast to natural disasters and unsustainable infrastructure development. She said that Pakistan is blessed with coastal and marine resources which have huge potential of benefits for the people of Pakistan. She stated that out of over 350 species of fish in Pakistan, many are under extinction. She stressed on three actions that need to be taken: first to ensure interagency coordination for coastal management; second to assess policies and plans; and third to revive the Marine Pollution Control Board.

In his presentation titled “Coastal Ecosystems: Lessons from Asia”, Dr. Macintosh informed the participants that the Greater Indian Ocean Region encompasses some of the world’s most extensive and biodiverse tropical coastal and marine ecosystems. He added that the Region has a coastline which is over 140,000 km long and a sea area of nearly 4 million km2. This vast marine network of estuaries, lagoons, mangroves, coral reefs, sandy beaches, sea grasses and wetlands provide an essential habitat for many rare and valuable species, as well as vital goods and services for millions of people. Mr. Donald called for the need to pay immediate attention on investments in coastal ecosystems and its conservation for the future generations. He stated that weak governance and inactive policies at a national level further aggravates the situation, resulting in grave consequences for the environment and wellbeing of communities. He said that most of the countries have not moved from the sectoral to integrated approach. He gave the example of Thailand where the private sector is investing in mangroves and are also involved eco-tourism and aqua-culture industry. Dr. Macintosh urged the government to develop and implement the policies in a participatory and inclusive manner, to get the benefits from the goods and services from Pakistan’s rich coastal ecosystem.

Mr. Tahir Qureshi, renowned mangroves and coastal areas management expert from IUCN Pakistan gave a comprehensive overview on the importance of mangroves, especially their role as natural barriers to natural disasters, such as cyclones and tsunami. He quoted success stories from the coastal areas of Pakistan and apprised the audience with immense economic potential residing in the integrated coastal zone management of the coastline of Pakistan. He also called for policy actions to be inclusive and people-centered so that the country benefits from the wealth of coastline in the country. He said that due to reduction in flow down from Kotri barrage, mangroves are facing scarcity of fresh water, which is vital for their survival. He stated that under the Balochistan Partnerships for Sustainable Development project, mangroves plantation in the Balochistan will be carried out along the coastal areas.

Mr. Shahid Ali Khan, Chairman, Pakistan’s National Committee of IUCN discussed the issues of urban development and coastal ecosystem. He mentioned that unplanned urban development can cause havoc to human lives and natural environment. On behalf of IUCN members, he offered the government all possible technical assistance in planning the urban development, to minimize negative impacts on coastal ecosystems, particularly in cities like Karachi and Gwadar, which are on the coastline of the country. He said that that the mindset of people in Pakistan is such that they consider construction of big structures and buildings as development, without realizing its adverse affects. He noted that mega projects with mega management need mega understanding of the environmental impact.

Mr. Ali Raza Rizvi, disaster management expert from IUCN Asia, Colombo, said that Pakistan can learn lessons from the tsunami affected countries.  He also expressed the need for development of a handbook for disaster management for the concerned officials, so that each responsible person is aware of the actions that need to be taken in the time of emergency.

Ms. Maeve Nightingale shared the lessons and experiences of Integrated Coastal Management system in Thailand and Sri Lanka. She stated that human well being and progress towards sustainable development are vitally dependent upon improving the management of earth’s ecosystems, to ensure their conservation. She also said that stakeholders’ participation in the decision making is very important.

Mr. Abid Ali, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Government of Pakistan said that the government is committed towards the protection of environment. He also stressed on the need for collaborative efforts and development of eco-tourism in the country.

The Chief Guest on the Occasion, Mr. Mir Hussain Ali, talked about the challenges faced by the government in the coastal areas of Pakistan and how the government is responding to these challenges. He said that there is a lot of potential for coastal tourism, but the system needs to be developed to promote it. He also mentioned that the present government has included five priority areas in their manifesto and environment is one of them.

In the end a question and answer session was held. The panel of international and local experts answered the comments and queries of the audience present.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Rafi-ul-Haq
IUCN Pakistan Programme
1, Bath Island Road
Tel: + 92 21 5861540

About IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)

Created in 1948, IUCN brings together 83 States, 111 government agencies, 800 plus NGOs, and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 148 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

The Union is the world's largest environmental knowledge network and has helped over 75 countries to prepare and implement national conservation and biodiversity strategies. The Union is a multicultural, multilingual organization with 1,000 staff located in 62 countries. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland.

IUCN Pakistan has programmes from the north to the south of the country and multiple field projects. It is one of the nine Country Offices of IUCN's Asia Programme, covering 23 countries with a workforce of nearly 500.

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