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Fictivia – an integrated approach to coastal zone

management and economic development

(c) Stefan. Thiesen, 2008
thiesen@uni-muenster.de

“We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is to learn the art of
being irrational in a reasonable way…”
Aldous Huxley, “Island”

“Feeling, willing, thinking – these are the three modes of ordinary human activity. To be
complete, life must be lived simultaneously on all three planes. To concentrate on only one
mode at the expense of the rest, or on two at the expense of the third, is to court immediate or
postponed disaster.”
Aldous Huxley, “What are you going to do?”

Preface
(See next page for the actual proposal)

From Holistic to Integrated Thinking

Holistic thinking had been called for by the spiritual and environmental movements of the
sixties, seventies and eighties, and eventually science supported this view as a result of
modern ecology, physics and system dynamics. Nobody and nothing is an island, and indeed
all things are connected. The fuzzy notion of “holism” re-surfaced during the last odd decade
in the more technical form of integrated thinking and integrated approaches, the main
difference being that an integrative approach is more precise and – in the case of
environmental management and economic development – strictly result oriented. Being
integrated, it should also carefully address the weighting of the integrated aspects. Is economy
an end in itself? Do intact ecosystems have a value in themselves aside from possibly – or not
– adding to the GNP of a country? Should some interest groups (e.g. “the Rich”) be burdened

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more than average in favour of others (e.g. the slum dwellers?). In other words: before
outlining a development and management plan, a set of goals ought to be lined out – ideally a
set of general goals and guidelines that form the very foundation of human decency and
common sense.
One such goal is the definition of “Sustainable Development” as put forward by the
Brundtland commission back in the 80s. It basically states that current development should
not jeopardize the development opportunities of future generations. This a common sense
definition in so far as been age old wisdom that one cannot spend more than one has, that one
must not take more from nature than can be replenished, that one should not consume the
seeds for the coming year. Unfortunately – and here this “common sense” definition runs into
difficulties – sustainable development ultimately is at odds with a perpetual exponential
growth economy (leaving aside for the moment dreams of limitless expansion into space). In
any case it yet has to be shown that development examples like for example Singapore a
sustainable in the long run, because it more seems that such places are wealthy trading
outposts benefitting from existing disparities in their regions. For a region like Fictivia the
ideal development approach may look quite different and possibly includes a combination of
(adapted) traditional methods, intermediate technology, low-tech approaches and modern
management and technology (e.g. GIS, modern communication, weather forecasts etc.).

The first question that needs to be answered in the case of Fictivia is: to what extend is it
integrated into the economy of the surrounding country? Is under some kind of state
prescribed economic paradigm that is unquestionable, or is it an autonomous region largely
independent regarding its internal affairs?
For the sake of the argument I will assume that Fictivia is an autonomous – if not independent
– sub state or state, rather similar to the Island of “Pala” in Aldous Huxley’s Utopian Novel
“Island”. The Proposal will be written from the point of view of the “Friends of the
Environment”.

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Friends of the Environment,

State of Fictivia

Proposal for Integrated Coastal Zone Management

And sustainable economic development
(Executive Summary)

Herewith we propose to the local council of Fictivia the following Development principles in
the context of an integrated coastal management scheme. The guiding principle shall be

“The Best for People and Nature”

For as humans and their natural surroundings are part of an inseparable integrated web of
interactions that needs to be considered in its completeness. Research of recent decades has
shown that environmentally benign development approaches ultimately also helped to
improve the livelihood of the people. The following points we consider crucial for the future
development of Fictivia’s coasts and hinterland:

Population control – with its 200 inhabitants per m² Fictivia already is at the brink of or –
given the state of development – beyond its natural carrying capacity. Higher population will
result in higher dependency of imported goods, more social unrest and criminality, more
environmental degradation (and hence further decreased productivity of fisheries and
agriculture) and ultimately a vicious circle that cannot anymore be easily reversed. Stopping
population growth it is unlikely that Fictivia will enter a stage of sustainable development.

We will demonstrate with examples, how a return to traditional fisheries management
methods that include no-take reserves not only help to protect biodiversity, but also improve
the fish productivity and total landings and strengthen the fisheries communities. A portion of
the fringing reef adjacent to the Fictivia coast as well as the a portion adjoining the existing
nature reserve should be declared a connected no-take reserve.

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We suggest a legal framework calling for the requirement of foreign ventures to establish joint
ventures in Fictivia instead of merely allowing “foreign investments” resulting in temporary
low-wage jobs and commercial interests focusing on short-term exploitation rather than
sustainable long-term development and commitments. Minimum environmental and social
standards as well as tax regulations should be defined for foreign employees.

We recommend a strategy of “local first”. That is, produce of our own country should first be
made available locally at favourable rates. Fictivia possesses coal that is mined for export, and
yet at the same time the country suffers from regular electricity shortages, plus the coal cannot
be properly transported during all seasons and hence we cannot provide a reliable support. We
recommend that a small, modern coal power plant be built on location of the mining area, and
power lines can transport the produced electricity to the regions where it is required.
Examples for successful joint ventures of this type exist (e.g. a new STEAG coal power plant
in Mindanao). It should also then be explored how the coal power could be supplemented by
hydropower and renewable energy (wind, solar electricity). A reliable and environmentally
sound electricity supply is a keystone of economic development, schooling, health care,
modern irrigation systems and more. It is also economically feasible since like in many
tropical developing countries electricity supply so far largely depends on Diesel generators
and therefore expensive oil import. Widespread application of simple solar water heating
system could further reduce the dependence on oil imports.

We strongly recommend irrigated agriculture in the highlands, including controlled runoffs
and catchments, in order to avoid polluted runoffs causing eutrophication and algal blooms in
coastal waters. In addition we recommend to improve wastewater treatment. These measures
do not only benefit the environment but have positive economic effects as well: a cleaner
environment attracts more tourists, a well managed irrigation agriculture results in higher crop
and aquaculture yields (eventually producing higher surplus for export) and last but not least
in more secure employment opportunities in farming and industry.

An integrated water management plan should be developed for the entire region. It should be
made clear that water is both: a human right AND a commodity. Water is precious and comes
at a price. In principle the dilemma could be solved relatively easily by assigning free
personal water allotments to each inhabitant, beyond which the water has to be paid for at a
rate increasing with volume (agriculture must naturally be excluded from this rule). One

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obstacle naturally is that the water has to be metered. Another that individuals would need to
be properly registered. In any case, a coastal and inland water management plan is an absolute
necessity. It includes:

• Public water education
• Economic incentives to water saving
• Possibly (with some reluctance) damming the river to provide secure water (and
hence food) supply during all seasons and additional hydropower
• Modern irrigation systems (e.g. drip irrigation applying solar pumps during dry
season)
• Water catchment and treatment
• Possibly new methods for freshwater production, such as solar or wind driven
desalination combined with small community bottled water plants (with proven
economic feasibility)

In general we recommend a set of sensible policy changes leaving more of the countries
wealth in the country and put it to use here. Policy changes and local capacity building (e.g.
establishment of community fisheries councils) do not call for high capital investments, while
improving infrastructure does. Wherever possible therefore it should be explored whether a
change of methodology might be more sensible than a change in technology. Local for local
and combining the best of two worlds as well as improving the livelihood of the population of
Fictivia to us seem to be the most viable development approach in the context of an ICM
programme. To this end we recommend to use a smaller portion of the World Bank Grant for
an assessment of the feasible solutions (joint venture coal power plant etc.) while using the
larger portion (90%) to establish an experimental agricultural and renewable energy
farm/station that applies new methods of tropical agriculture and water management, supplies
actual products to the country, explores and develops renewable energy and water supply
techniques and, ultimately, serves as an education centre for the population of Fictivia.

As in the ancient Hawaiian environmental management system known by the name of
“Ahupua’a” we consider ICM a concept that reaches from the mountain tops to the outer reef
side. ICM therefore must start in the mountains, and given the limited carrying capacity a
steady state population as well as an optimal steady state of agricultural production must be
found in order to assure sustainability.

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