The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a report titled “Taking Steps Toward Marine and Coastal Ecosystem-Based Management: An Introductory Guide.” The report highlights how planners and policy makers in local, national and regional governments can adopt an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach to help ensure sustainable development for marine and coastal environments and the livelihoods that depend on them.
The report aims to facilitate the implementation of UNEP’s Ecosystem Management Programme and new Marine and Coastal Strategy in countries and regions, in line with its Medium Term Strategy 2010-13. It outlines operational steps in an accessible language, drawing on case studies and lessons-learned from tropical coastlines to temperate estuaries and polar ocean ecosystems. One of the key messages is that EBM is a holistic, integrated approach that looks at marine and coastal ecosystems as units with many ecological and social links. It is also an incremental process and there are different paths toward it, including working at a trans-boundary level as well as with countries far away.
In launching the report, Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, noted that the future role of marine and coastal ecosystems relies on developing the capacity of countries to manage human uses and impacts on ecosystems. The report aims to complement UNEP’s work on Green Economy, by providing guidance on making changes in the way humans interact with ecosystems, as well as the work on the Blue Carbon Initiative, which explores the potential for mitigating climate change by investing and re-investing in healthy coastal ecosystems that capture and store carbon. The report also highlights that EBM offers a solution for harnessing marine and coastal ecosystems in adapting to climate change and potential disasters.
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