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Fictivia – an integrated approach to coastal zone management and economic development

(c) Stefan. Thiesen, 2008 “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 1

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”.


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.


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 4

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. 5