PERSGA’s Socioeconomic Initiative 

 
The interaction between marine and terrestrial environments and their associated human dimensions is precisely what distinguishes ICZM from other management and governance processes. Effective resource and environmental management has the potential to yield socioeconomic benefits in the longer-term. 

Recognising the importance of understanding coastal socio-economics as a fundamental prerequisite for sustainable ICZM planning, PERSGA works to strengthen socioeconomic survey-work, indicator measurement and accurate data collection in the Region.  PERSGA is currently launching this activity through its “Survey for the Integrated Coastal Zone Management of the Red Sea Coast of Sudan” Project, which will implement a pilot project in Sudan in 2007 for further replication throughout the Region.

The survey work that will take place in this initiative will cover the four major ICZM dimensions: economic, environmental, public health and safety, and social dimensions:

Economic dimension:  The ICZM process facilitates informed and rational decision-making with respect to the economic importance of coastal and ocean areas vis-à-vis other areas. It enables an economic basis for comparison and provides information on the economic costs associated with a particular activity.

Environmental dimension:  PERSGA considers the human activities in the coastal and marine environment that will affect the status ans trends in marine and coastal ecosystems.

Public health and safety dimension:  Human health and safety are increasingly jeopardised by consumption of and contact with contaminated seawater and marine organisms, as well as rising natural hazards.  ICZM approaches can support the mitigation of exposure to these hazards, and waylay the associated economic losses (such as to the fisheries and tourism industries).

Social dimension: PERSGA works to ensure that population dynamics and cultural values are considered, and to promote an understanding of how their implications may potentially impact coastal and marine ecosystems.

NOAA Global Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative for Coastal Management (SocMon)

PERSGA is the regional focal point for the SOCMON initiative and will assume leadership for a SocMon Red Sea program.  PERSGA is currently developing a work-plan accordingly and exploring the potential to use Sudan as the first pilot SocMon site in the Region.

The SOCMON Initiative was created to incorporate socioeconomic monitoring programmes all over the world.  The goal in doing so is to elevate the capacity and understanding of coastal managers to incorporate the socioeconomic context into management programs.  For more information, please visit the NOAA-SOCMON website.

 Promoting Socioeconomic Initiatives through the ICZM Agenda:

In recognising the importance of incorporating socioeconomic activities into management plans for the mutual benefit of both communities and the environment, PERSGA held a workshop in June 2005 entitled “Towards ICZM: Balancing Standards of Life for Coastal Communities.  The workshop emphasised the following themes:

  • The linkages between environment, poverty, improving quality of life and international development goals;

  • The economic value of the coastal and marine life;

  • Economic, Socio economic, and Governance indicators for ICZM plans.

  • Private sector role in the development agenda.

The workshop specifically explored the relationship between community livelihoods and ecosystem services and the cyclical dynamic of poverty and resource depletion.  Participants also focused on the importance of strong governance to ensure sound management and practice, and the imperative for comprehensive monitoring programmes.  The workshop also addressed the need to engage the private sector by promoting corporate social responsibility and encouraging business partnerships to support community income-generating opportunities that are based on sound environmental practice.

Workshop participants represented a broad range of stakeholder interests, including governmental, NGO, private sector, and international organizations such as NOAA, UNEP, UNDP and PEMSEA.  This was essential in addressing the diverse facets that are required by any environmentally-based socioeconomic programme. 

Designing a Socioeconomic Monitoring Programme for ICZM in Sudan:

In June 2007, PERSGA and the Higher Council of the Environment and Natural Resources – Red Sea State (RSS) held a three-day Expert Meeting entitled “Designing a Socioeconomic Monitoring Programme for ICZM in Sudan
, which gathered local, regional and international socioeconomic experts in Port Sudan.

Discussions resulted in greater understanding of the expertise existing in RSS, how the Programme can be integrated with related Government Departments, the role that can be played by international experts, as well as the extent of available literature and data covering socioeconomic studies and coastal-marine resource management in RSS. The Meeting also promoted the role of the newly established Integrated Coastal Zone Management Office in Port Sudan. It further built on discussions of a June 12th ICZM governance conference, which solidified collaboration and integration between the ICZM Office objectives and the RSS Planning Committee’s land-use strategies.

The Socioeconomic Programme and related governance coordination actions fall under the Work-plan of a greater ICZM Project currently being launched for the entire coast of Sudan (please refer to the ICZM section of this website for further information).

Socioeconomic Impact Assessment:

To facilitate the design and implementation of Sudan’s Socioeconomic Monitoring Programme, PERSGA has hired the assistance of an International SIA consultant, Dr. Magnus Macfarlane, who works closely with the ICZM Office Socioeconomic Programme Coordinator (SPC) and the ICZM Office Socioeconomic Working Group (SWG). (This seven-person Working Group of local experts has been contracted through the ICZM Office on a temporary basis to assist with activities needed to develop Sudan’s Socioeconomic Programme).

As part of his work, Dr. Macfarlane is training the SPC and SWG in methods of how to collect, read and analyse socioeconomic reports and studies, including what key elements to look for and how to identify gaps, and supervising their activities and progress in these regards. Dr. Macfarlane is also responsible for the preparation of a socio-economic baseline report, a 10-year strategy for a socioeconomic monitoring programme for Sudan, as well as a three-year Work Plan (which will include a capacity-building component). These documents will be developed in close collaboration and consultation with the SPC and SWG.

Small and Medium Projects Programme for Coastal Communities:

Establishment of guidelines for a Small and Medium Projects Programme and the implementation of pilot projects (including projects addressing mangrove rehabilitation, ecotourism, and coral reef, marine turtle, shark, dolphin and sea bird conservation) were included in PERSGA’s Operational Framework as important activities contributing to conservation and sustainable development goals.

PERSGA aims to implement small/medium -scale projects that result in tangible improvements to both environmental and poverty alleviation efforts in the region. The programme will be built on the successful Comunity Participation Program undertaken during SAP Phase 1, and the examples given by other Regional Seas sustainable development projects conducted in the Caspian Sea Environment Programme and the Danube/Black Sea Programme. For greater success, the projects will seek wide-spread partnership, particularly from local authorities, scientific, local and academic communities, NGOs, and private and public sector corporations. The idea is that these various actors will provide funding (grants and soft easy loans) for small-scale investments targeting transboundary issues and environmental socio-economic opportunities.  Projects must address the biological and socio-economic consequences of the degradation of marine and coastal habitats.

As a result of the 2005 workshop, PERSGA and its partners identified potential projects to reduce the pressure on coastal resources in the region.  These projects would be implemented on the national level as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and/or by NGO grants.  The proposed projects included such activities as: ecotourism initiatives, dried fish factories, aquaculture, environmental handicrafts, research and education centres, conversion of fish waste into animal food, mooring buoy projects, reed plantation to absorb contamination from wetlands, advocacy campaigns and environmental hotlines, among other ideas.

It was agreed, however, that certain prerequisites were required before the implementation of projects, including:

  • Resource valuation

  • Socioeconomic mapping

  • The development of micro-credit schemes for small enterprises and grant agreements from NGOs

  • Leadership, training and capacity building in good governance procedures, SME planning and management, and monitoring and evaluation

  • Corporate social responsibility projects and corporate sector engagement

Bank of the Poor

PERSGA aims to work with partners to help implement Regional poverty alleviation scheme based on the micro-finance example provided by the Grameen Bank Initiative.

Income-generating projects of the sort can help the poor benefit from the wealth of the natural environment through sustainable and well-managed projects under PERSGA guidance.  This has the dual benefit of not only reducing poverty, but of producing economic incentives for the respect and sound management of valuable natural resources, so as to ensure both prolonged income-generation as well as long-lasting environmental health.

The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden