The interfacing and changes in these key driving forces, as used in the narratives in this chapter, are assumed to take the patterns reflected in Figure 1. The narratives presented in the subsequent sections are based on these patterns of change in the main driving forces.
In order to provide a holistic storyline, the regional and sub-regional narratives have been integrated for some issues while stand-alone sections have been reserved for issues more directly relevant to specific sub-regions. The four regional narratives focus on transboundary aspects and ecosystems at subregional and regional levels, and discuss the implications of policy choices for meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets by 2025. The analysis is undertaken in the context of the Opportunity Framework (see Introduction). The policy lessons from the scenarios are closely related to the future state of the environment as presented in Section 2: Environment State-and-Trends: 20-Year Retrospective.
Coastal and marine environments
Coastal and marine environments are important to the overall development of Africa in general and to some countries in particular. Chapter 5: Coastal and Marine Environments considers the opportunities and challenges these resources offer for development. The condition of coastal and marine resources is an indicator of overall environmental health. As the interface between the land and the ocean, it will always be prone to interferences from man and nature, the sources of the main driving forces and pressures affecting the coastal environment. Coastal and marine resources have a marked potential for tourism, biodiversity conservation, energy generation through tidal waves, oil, and gas. These resources are threatened by coastal erosion, sea-level rise, destruction of coral reefs with the accompanying loss of coastal and marine biodiversity, solid waste management, pollution, salt intrusion in low-lying areas, and uncontrolled urbanization. The scenarios presented here look at the interplay between various drivers and how they influence the state of coastal and marine resources and the storylines offer options for policy packages that address these issues and threats in the region.
Market Forces scenario
In this scenario, the current trend of migration to the continent's coastal areas is likely to continue, and therefore coastal areas will continue to be areas for economic production. Coastal areas by their very nature are centres for commerce and trade. As economic centres, and because of the rich mosaic of environmental goods, coastal areas attract more and more people seeking to take advantage of those opportunities. Increasing concentrations of people live within 100 km of the coast.
They migrate to these areas not only to exploit the available coastal and marine resources but also to explore the increasing opportunities for economic development being concentrated along the coastal areas. Coastal areas offer employment opportunities, economic prosperity, new industries, improved regional infrastructure, enhanced educational opportunities and increased tax revenues. However, as coastal populations grow, so does the stress placed on the environment.
A major assumption of this pattern of development is that an economic base is developed from which funds can be provided to ameliorate the impacts of growth. As a result of this growing population, there is likely to be increasing demand for both marine and land-based resources. Demands for energy and natural resources promote offshore exploration, drilling and mining. These activities impact marine habitats and water quality through physical disturbances, introduction of pollutants and suspension of sediments in the water.
The growing populations result in the conversion of open land and forest for activities such as commercial development, agriculture, forestry and other activities that provide economic growth. In addition to physically altering the habitat, coastal development reduces permeable surface area, thereby increasing the rate of run-off and impacting water quality by transporting sediments, toxic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, pathogens, nutrients and other pollutants to local waterways. With the loss of biodiversity, and other damage to the ecosystem, the self-cleansing properties of water will be reduced.
The demand for water, especially for agricultural, industrial and urban domestic uses, increases. In an attempt to meet these demands, more dams are built and more groundwater is extracted, and this affects coastal environments such as wetlands and mangrove forests. In the Market Forces scenario, attempts to correct these imbalances are made through the introduction of new water pricing systems. These are used to recoup the costs of supply and establish a mechanism for the economically efficient allocation of a limited resource. It is also plausible that as water is more highly valued, water recycling will be encouraged. To complement these market tools, regulations to control pollution of water bodies by agricultural, industrial and domestic effluents are introduced. As urbanization and inland activities increase, so do the volumes of municipal and industrial waste discharged into local waterways.
This impairs water quality, while at the same time demands for potable water and wastewater treatment increase. Whether from run-off or discharges, excessive nutrients, sediments, pathogens and toxic chemicals can impair water quality which in turn results in the reduction or loss of fishing opportunities, changes in wildlife populations, a reduction in the value of wetlands and estuaries, decreases in wetlands available for water treatment and decreased protection from storms. The problem of waste and litter further exacerbates the situation. The impacts of pollution worsen through eutrophication of coastal waters and the intensification of hypoxia and anoxia.
In bustling centres of development, both fisheries and tourism grow and these place severe pressure on coastal areas. Important impacts on the environment include the degradation or loss of coral reefs, mangroves and coastal flats. Fewer and fewer original coastal people have direct access to the resources that these coastal environments provide, as tourist establishments “privatize” the coast. Coastal erosion is also often related to patterns of human settlement. However, if properly managed, tourism can create incentives and generate the money needed for managing these coastal and marine resources. The need for careful management of these resources emerges as a concern but it will not necessarily be attended to. In other areas, where careful coastal zone planning is implemented and maintained, the high environmental qualities of these ecosystems are maintained and sustainable benefits accrue.
Increasing demands for shellfish and commercial fish spur competition and technology improvements to increase fishing capabilities. Over-exploitation, in concert with impacts from pollution, habitat degradation, habitat modifications such as dams, and by-catch waste, results in a depletion of fish stocks, placing some ecosystems on a path towards unsustainability, and threatening the viability of the fishing industry. The deliberate introduction of IAS to promote economic interests results in unexpected ecological impacts to the coastal and marine environments, with longer-term socioeconomic impacts. Predation and competition by these non-indigenous species results in the eradication of some native populations and the drastic reduction of others. The colonization of ecosystems by invasive and alien species (IAS) results in the degradation and loss of wetland vegetation and other submerged aquatic vegetation. When these problems arise, the market sets in motion mechanisms for their correction.
The operation of the Market Forces scenario leads to major modifications of the coastal and marine environment through, among other things, development of dams, flood control channels, dredging, water diversions and development in wetlands. These modifications have profound impacts on coastal and marine habitats, changing the natural flow, timing and volume of freshwater inflow and sediment depositional patterns in bays and estuaries. Alteration of flow impacts on marine systems by transporting pollutants and resuspending sediments and toxic chemicals and consequently increases the potential for concentration of toxins in marine organisms, and in people.
Policy Reform scenario
In this scenario, coastal areas will remain important centres of human activity. Massive tourist enterprises interspersed with coastal and marine industries are evident along the coast. Policymakers faced with the degradation of coastal and marine environments, including the loss of coastal flats and sand-dune degradation, focus on reclamation of intertidal and sub-tidal mudflats and sandbanks and damage to coral reefs. The increased use of coastal resources for tourism and recreation alongside human dependence on the coastal and marine zone for development, trade and food will be sufficiently high to make Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) a priority. The goal of ICZM is to “attain sustainable development of coastal and marine areas, to reduce vulnerability of coastal areas and their inhabitants to natural hazards, and to maintain essential ecological processes, life-support systems and biological diversity in coastal and marine areas”. It is “multipurpose-oriented; it analyses implications of development, conflicting uses, and interrelationships among physical processes and human activities, and it promotes linkages and harmonization between sectoral coastal and ocean activities”.
The coastal and marine areas, especially those of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) islands, are prone to natural disasters such as tropical cyclones and tsunamis. These disasters will continue to occupy a focal point not only for discussion but also for the institution of mechanisms for their prevention. While many of these disasters may not be averted, their effects can be reduced considerably through the institution of early warning systems. In the Policy Reform scenario formalized early warning systems will be instituted and many of these will be based on inter-state cooperation.
There is a cautious approach to creating new policies, and attempts are made to harmonize existing initiatives. There are concerted efforts to revitalize existing Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and establish systems to promote the realization of agreed objectives. At the same time countries develop more forceful policies and will put in place mechanisms for realizing the goals of government policy. The Policy Reform scenario integrates environmental objectives into economic development plans at different levels. Institutions are empowered to effectively enforce and monitor the implementation of environmental laws, sub-regional and regional protocols, as well as MEAs. Sub-regional organizations undertake environmental audits of their member states to determine whether or not they are implementing their own set environmental policies.
This is incorporated in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Assessing progress towards achieving the MDGs takes into account environmental, social and economic interests. Efforts are made to take into account gender dimensions in articulating policy reform at different levels and, pursuant to this, an African gender and development index is introduced in all 53 African countries. At the national level, policies and activities are adopted to address the plethora of problems, but these will have varying levels of success:
- Policies to help people to adapt to the potential marine inundation of low-lying areas from sea-level rise are adopted.
- Policies and action for reducing marine pollution include developing infrastructure for treating wastewater before it is disposed of in the sea are introduced.
- Laws and regulations are issued or revised in order to protect the coastal areas and water bodies from unplanned development and the associated environmental impacts. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are routinely carried out for projects with potential impact on the coastal and marine resources. Field inspection by specialized government agencies ensure that these projects follow the mitigation measures proposed in their EIAs. New coastal areas and inland water bodies will be protected by means of laws and good policies for the management of coastal areas.
- Pollution and waste management laws to reverse the current tend of dumping solid wastes on beaches and in the sea are adopted. International conventions against the dumping of hazardous wastes are respected.
- Appropriate laws for the control of erosion become instituted to reduce overall levels of loss of coastline from development, including the ever-expanding tourism sector.
- Re-establishing inshore fishing proves more protracted than envisaged due to continual infringement of close season rules and the use of fine nets for coastal fishing in small boats.
- Deep-sea protection arrangements prove satisfactory but the region is slow to respond to the opportunities, with continual haggling over the internal division of the territory and the sharing of protection and development costs.
Fortress World scenario
In this scenario, urbanization and migration to coastal areas will increase, placing new demands on coastal and marine resources for food. Tourism grows, as the elite aggressively markets coastal areas for tourism through multinational companies. Increasing tourism opportunities, particularly in the ecotourism sector, contribute to better management of environments, such as forests and wetlands, that are integral to tourism. However, as a result of increasing population and tourism, there is overfishing and fish stocks are depleted.
Growing human settlements generate new sources of pollution and waste. Coastal and marine pollution increases, as investment in public sector services, including the treatment of sewage, declines. Valuable coral reefs and mangrove forests become increasingly vulnerable and threatened as a result of poor environmental management, development and tourism. Despite the existence of laws controlling the exploitation of coastal resources (mangrove swamps, fishing), development activities continue and contribute to increasing coastal erosion.
Infrastructural and service development is concentrated in the tourism sector and inadequate attention is given to non-elite settlements. The rate of infrastructure development is much slower than the rate of population increase, leading to growing incidence of slums and pollution. People in the fortresses take some care to minimize or mitigate the magnitude of the adverse environmental impacts on new tourism developments. However, to support the construction industry, the elite overexploit the soil along the coasts, contributing to coastal erosion and damaging coastal ecosystems. Many rare marine species are threatened or become extinct. The current practice of groundwater abstraction increases, which in turn increases the incidence of seawater intrusion, which renders many wells unusable.
Coastal and marine areas are seriously affected by military operations, piracy and overfishing using fine nets, dynamite and seabed trawling. Oil pollution from major tanker spills and accidents at deep-water oil wells have scarred coastlines and caused irretrievable damage to marine stocks. These trends continue.
Great Transitions scenario
In this scenario African countries recognize the importance of their coastal and marine environments, not only for their intrinsic value but as valuable resources capable of transforming lives and economies. Consequently, there is general agreement that these environments must be well protected and managed.
Regional organizations increasingly come to view the problems of coastal and marine environments as those of both landlocked countries and coastal countries. Organizations for managing shared waters are formed and work actively to identify the full suite of challenges faced in coastal areas throughout Africa. They also identify and reach consensus on practical steps necessary for cooperative management of coastal and marine resources. This positive development leads to the formulation of laws about resource conservation and utilization along coastal areas. The links between freshwater and coastal systems are acknowledged, and there is increasing cooperation with catchment management authorities around issues of discharge of water, and pollution from sediments and nutrients. Collective responsibility for pollution and waste management becomes the basis for action. These developments lead to decreases in the overall pollution of coastal and marine environments and to an increase in the breeding of fish and the growth of the fishing industry. Furthermore, the harbours become more environmentally friendly.
The formation of international cooperation initiatives also improves relations between adjacent states with contiguous coastal lands. For instance, coastal lands in Western Africa are treated as one long continuous zone requiring integrated planning and development. The current trend of creating transboundary natural resource management areas, such as the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) established by Angola, Namibia and South Africa in 1999, continues and new joint-management areas and marine parks are established.
There is the realization in all coastal countries that these environments are clearly under serious stress and in need of an integrated and effective planning and management regime. Consequently, ICZM has gained growing acceptance as the logical approach to facilitate vertical and horizontal integration within governments and to ensure multi-stakeholder involvement in developing solutions. Therefore, as an aspect of the management of coastal and marine areas, planners work with coastal communities, state coastal zone managers, NGOs and other stakeholders. Effective integrated management leads to sustainable use and management of coastal and marine resources. Under the Great Transitions scenario, coastal and marine zone management involves:
- Strengthening inter-sectoral management through improving training, legislation and staffing;
- Preserving the biological diversity of coastal ecosystems by preventing habitat destruction, pollution and overexploitation;
- Promoting the rational development and sustainable use of coastal resources;
- Prohibiting or controlling developments in sensitive areas along the coasts;
- Prohibiting the direct disposal of all types of waste, including chemical and toxic wastes, into the sea;
- Refusing licences for projects that affect sedimentation or erosion of shorelines; and
- Issuing guidelines to boats, divers and fishers regarding safe practices in territorial waters and protection of marine life.
Policy lessons from the scenarios
Coastal and marine environments are particularly sensitive. They face increasing pressure and threats from development and economic activities. These areas also have a high level of vulnerability to climate change and sea-level rise, and natural phenomenon and disasters. Consequently, coastal and marine areas require a high level of care.
The scenarios presented here have shown how coastal and marine areas will fare under the assumptions of the Market Forces, Policy Reform, Fortress World and Great Transitions scenarios. It is clear that to promote sustainable development in these environments, the “business as usual” approach of the Market Forces scenario is not feasible. Responses under the Fortress World scenario exacerbate stress rather than mitigate it. The choice for Africa is to be guided in its developmental efforts by either the Policy Reform or the Great Transitions scenarios.
The Policy Reform scenario has its attractive qualities for development in general and coastal and marine areas development in particular. First, it adopts an incremental approach to planning and decision making. It will usually involve the periodic setting of objectives and goals on aspects of the environment, and then putting in place mechanisms for attaining these goals. For much of the history of African development, this has been the approach taken. The fact that environmental problems, especially along the coasts, have neither been eradicated nor seen to be decreasing at acceptable rates is an indication that a Policy Reform scenario for coastal and marine area management is inadequate.
The Great Transitions scenario seems to offer better opportunities for development that is consistent with Africa’s aspiration. The challenge is how to translate the charts of the Great Transitions to viable policies for the development of the coastal and marine areas. The adoption of the Great Transitions scenario for coastal and marine environments implies the acceptance of the need to define a sustainable future on the one hand and to institute the mechanisms for attaining this future on the other. This requires major shifts in current practice. Very few coastal countries in Africa have embarked on ICZM, and the practice in many countries is to concentrate on exploiting coastal resources such as petroleum and fishing. The implementation of MEAs remains a challenge. Nevertheless, there are some promising trends including the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa's Development - Environment Action Plan (NEPAD-EAP) and the MDG 7. We can expect such a move to achieve some or all of the following objectives necessary for sustainable coastal and marine development:
- Integrate environmental issues into national development frameworks, especially in respect of poverty reduction efforts, including those of the MDG targets.
- Strengthen the decentralization of the management of coastal and marine areas and the role of civil society.
- Reduce environment-related conflicts between estate developers, civil society, industry and tourism.
- Enhance access to environmentally-sound and appropriate technologies.
- Strengthen resource rights along the coasts and marine areas to reduce the vulnerability of poor people.
- Cisin-Sain, B. and Belfiore, S., 2003. Linking Marine Protected Areas to Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management: A Review of Theory and Practice.
- Cicin-Sain, B., and Knecht, R.W., 1998. Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management: Concepts and Practices. Island Press, Washington, D.C.
- MA, 2006. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Current State and Trends. Volume 1. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Island Press, Washington, D.C.
- UNEP, 2006. Africa Environment Outlook 2.
This is a chapter from Africa Environment Outlook 2: Our Environment, Our Wealth (e-book).
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