Public awareness, education and participation
It is important to promote awareness and understanding of the importance of the coastal zone, and public participation in coastal issues, in order to encourage a greater sense of coastal stewardship within communities. Many coastal inhabitants or visitors may not be fully aware of the complex issues operating within the coastal zone, or its value as an economic, social, historical and environmental resource. Improving knowledge of the coast’s value, and awareness of possible increasing degradation of conditions or threats, will encourage a greater sense of stewardship within the wider community. If the public are given the opportunity to become involved in a project, it can assist the smooth implementation of coastal initiatives and create a greater chance of long-term success. We proposed that we would:
Identify ways in which local knowledge on the coastal zone can be disseminated more widely amongst relevant stakeholders and the coastal community, including local training / education and awareness schemes.
Determine how appropriate national training and education programmes can support implementation of integrated management principles in the coastal zone.
Review ways in which Universities can support ICZM, following up on the outcome of existing research.
Question 13: Do you have any views about points (t) to (v) above, and ways in which we can improve public awareness and participation in coastal management?
13 Question 13 summary of responses
This question was addressed by 57 respondents. Where opinion was expressed, there was unanimous support for the content and aims of the proposals. The general emerging themes were:
the importance and role of coastal partnerships as a mechanism for fostering public awareness, education and participation, reflecting partnerships’ experience, public trust and accessibility;
that there was a lot of information and activities already ongoing, and that such public participation and awareness-building required continual support; and
that effective public awareness, education, and participation (of which there were good examples) could strengthen management decisions, including by lessening conflict, and so could assist ICZM.
On the particular proposals made:
Sixteen respondents offered specific comment on this point. Most focussed on the role and experience of the coastal partnership as an effective mechanism for disseminating knowledge with established comprehensive stakeholder networks at various scales. As such, four respondents stated that coastal partnerships should be fully utilised and developed with support and resources provided by Government to enable them to fulfil their potential. The importance of neutrality and independence from Government, and the ability to provide objective and 30