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Poverty and Reefs

5.2 Principles for addressing poverty-related reef issues

Based on our current understanding of poverty and coral reefs it is clear that for future interventions to effectively address poverty among reef stakeholders the current approaches to poverty-related reef issues need to change. The various interventions targeting reefs, coastal communities and poverty reduction suggest some important ways in which this change can occur. The current Reef Livelihoods Assessment project has furthered that understanding considerably. From this a set of principles of good practice begin to emerge. This is outlined below:

5.2.1 Enhancing the understanding of reef and poverty-related issues
  • Recognising the dependence of the poor and vulnerable on reef resources and the need to understand and address their specific needs and aspirations.
  • Recognising that the nature of poverty often means that the poor are hidden or excluded from interventions and may coexist in coastal areas with apparent wealth.
  • Recognising that the poor are not a single homogenous group and an understanding of the different types of poor stakeholder is essential to effectively target the poor.
  • Recognising that the lives of poor stakeholders are diverse and complex and a holistic understanding of this complexity is needed in order to develop viable responses.
  • Recognising the wealth of existing knowledge, both formal and informal, concerning reefs and people and the need to more effectively share and apply this knowledge.
  • Recognising the importance and value of informal, indigenous or local knowledge systems and the need to enhance their integration with formal, scientific knowledge systems.
  • Recognising the diversity of stakeholders and the need to introduce systematic informing and influencing strategies to create opportunities for sharing information in forms that are accessible to, and targeted at, different types of stakeholders.
5.2.2 Promoting a balanced and integrated approach to reef and poverty-related issues
  • Recognising that there are multiple stakeholders involved in reef issues, from those at the local ground level to those at an international level, who have multiple and varying objectives ranging from conservation and protection, to sustainable use, exploitation or development.
  • Recognising the need to raise awareness and change attitudes in order to harmonise these multiple objectives and actively promote the priorities, needs and aspirations of the coastal poor in approaches to policy development and interventions.
  • Promoting a broader consideration of coastal community development, which incorporates social, economic, environmental, governance and vulnerability issues and overcomes the difficulty of looking beyond natural resource management, symptomatic of ICZM approaches.
  • Encouraging an integrated multi-disciplinary approach, which combines local participation with national level support across multiple sectors relevant to the livelihoods of local communities (i.e. health, education etc. as well as natural resources).
  • Developing partnerships between different agencies and groups to enhance knowledge and skill sharing and involvement in the policy and development process.
  • Promoting participation, which targets poor stakeholders, and facilitates their involvement in agreeing common entry points and throughout the subsequent research or development process.
  • Acknowledging the role and importance of political and patronage systems and the need to incorporate and work with them to ensure positive change.
  • Promoting a flexible and process-orientated approach that recognises the dynamic and complex nature of livelihoods, which can accommodate change and which avoids mechanistic approaches and preconceived solutions.
  • Initiating a process which starts small, based on an understanding of threats, weaknesses and opportunities, and builds on the strengths of experience, best practice and success.
5.2.3 Enhancing the livelihood security of the poor and vulnerable dependent on reefs
  • Promoting a systematic approach, which builds on existing strengths and recognises weaknesses and threats, to develop viable, sustainable and dynamic livelihood opportunities, which enhance or diversify existing options for the poor and vulnerable.
  • Strengthening existing mechanisms, which support livelihoods and complement reef access in times of hardship or crisis and enhancing access to these support mechanisms by the poor and vulnerable.
  • Recognising the need to secure rights of access to reef resources for the poor and vulnerable through prioritising their needs in policy development and where appropriate incorporating existing traditional or local rights.
  • Promoting co-management in fisheries and coastal development and the need to ensure sustainability at all levels: environmental, economic, social and governance.
  • Promoting a precautionary principle to management interventions, development and exploitation of reef ecosystems grounded in sound environmental, social and economic impact assessments.
  • Enhancing or maintaining the carrying capacity of the environment by reducing the adverse effects of externalities from other sectors through greater inter-sector and international cooperation at the policy-making and policy implementation stages.
  • Undertaking, where feasible, efforts to rehabilitate habitats and mitigate the impacts of development on the poor and vulnerable.
  • Supporting efforts to understand, address and combat impacts of global climate change.
  • Recognising the potential loss of physical protection from the reef in the future and the need to enhance disaster planning and responses which target the poor and vulnerable.
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