Contents - Previous - Next

This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at

1. Introductory paper: The lipi-unu coastal resources management project

Eric C. F. Bird

The coastal resources management project forms part of the United Nations University Programme on the Use and Management of Natural Resources (NRP). The general goal of this Programme is to alleviate global problems concerning human survival, development, and welfare through research, training, and the dissemination of information on the use and management of natural resources. The NRP has at present three sub programmes:

  1. on the Ecological Basis for Rural Development in the Humid Tropics;
  2. on the Assessment of the Application of Knowledge to Arid Lands Problems;
  3. on Energy for Rural Communities.

While intended as the nucleus of a fourth sub-programme, the coastal resources management project relates to the first of these three sub-programmes in that it will promote rural development in coastal regions in such countries as Indonesia, with applications throughout Southeast Asia. It is complementary to the existing University project on landwater interactive systems, initiated in a programmatic workshop in Bogor in September 1978, which is concerned with environmental changes in the hinterland. The coastal resources management project will deal mainly with shore and marine environments, initially along the deltaic shoreline of North Java.

Coastal areas are among the world's most productive and scientifically interesting regions. Some 60 per cent of humanity lives near the coast; almost 90 per cent of marine protein is presently derived from coastal areas; and it is estimated that more than half of the world's potentially recoverable hydrocarbon resources are located beneath coastal waters. Moreover, these regions serve diverse human needs for food, energy, transport, and recreation, and provide sites for urban development, industry, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and trade.

Coastal resources exist in environments comprising complex dynamic geomorphological and ecological systems that are extremely sensitive to misuse by man. The use and management of such resources must be based on scientific knowledge of the interacting features and processes characteristic of coastal areas. There is widespread evidence of damage and impoverishment of coastal resources where this knowledge is unavailable, or has not been applied to the solution of coastal problems.

In developing countries the situation is particularly critical because of

  1. the urgent demand for social, economic, and technological development;
  2. the paucity of knowledge applicable to the needs of developing nations;
  3. the great complexity of tropical coastal systems; and
  4. the lack of capital resources and trained manpower to solve these problems.

The United Nations University seeks by way of its coastal resources management project to develop the capability and techniques necessary for effective management of coastal environments and their natural resources.

Terms of Reference

The broad aims of the coastal resources management project are to establish a sound methodology and a network of interacting scholars, and to contribute information required for the management of coastal environments on a global scale. More specifically, in Indonesia, the project will attempt to establish

  1. a self-reinforcing network of trained scholars working on coastal research programmes in and around Indonesia as a basis for the management of coastal resources and environments in this region;
  2. scholarly baseline studies to illustrate particular kinds of human impact on Indonesian coasts; in each locality, the studies will deal with the social as well as the physical, chemical, and biological consequences; they will serve to guide similar studies elsewhere, and to develop the environmental perceptions of coastal features and problems by scientists, policy makers, and the local people who utilize and modify these coastal environments;
  3. a means of enabling scientists in Indonesia and neighbouring countries to co-operate readily and communicate rapidly with their colleagues through the UN University network.

Following these broad terms of reference, this first coastal resources management project is to be initiated in Indonesia.

Aims and Objectives

The aim of the United Nations University coastal resources management project is to promote manpower training in this field by means of a series of courses, each of one year's duration, in developing countries. The first course will be in Indonesia, where manpower training is one of the major goals of the current Five Year Plan. Each course will comprise a training and research project organized by senior environmental scientists from LIPI (Indonesian Institute of Sciences) and the United Nations University, which has provided an international project co-ordinator and support for visiting specialists. A selected group of six local Indonesian graduates will gain experience in the techniques of survey, research, and problem solving necessary for the application of environmental management in their coastal regions. On the one hand, there will be intensive study of specific local problems, which will provide data useful for coastal management of Indonesia, as well as experience for the graduates. On the other hand, there will be an input of relevant material (case histories) from other, comparable coastal regions to provide a broader basis for the assessment of coastal problems in Indonesia.

In order to achieve this, the selected graduates will take part in seminars and field studies. The programme will include the preparation by each graduate of a thesis on a research topic relevant to local coastal management. The thesis will be compiled under the supervision of a senior Indonesian or overseas scientist and assessed at the end of the year. As the first year's programme develops, a project will be planned for the second year, and initiated on similar lines, using some of the graduates trained in the first year to help in the organization of research and training for a further group of up to six selected graduates. This will lead cumulatively to the development of a group of scientists well equipped to guide and shape coastal management programmes and policy in Indonesia, having benefited from the knowledge and experience of senior scientists and the stimulus of overseas expertise. Emphasis is placed on the gaining of field study experience and methodology in the regions where the graduates will subsequently be working, in preference to taking them to contrasting overseas environments for such training.

The problems of coastal management vary from country to country, but in the humid tropics generally, and Indonesia in particular, the emphasis is on those aspects of the interaction of water, sediment, nutrients, and organisms, derived from the hinterland and from the marine environment, that are relevant to the stability and productivity of coastal ecosystems, and to the economy, social welfare, and health of people who dwell near the coast. There are problems of coastal erosion and deposition; pollution of estuaries, lagoons, and the sea; deterioration of coastal plant and animal communities, especially in mangrove areas; and maintenance of productivity from man-made systems, such as brackish water fish ponds (tambak). In addition, it is necessary to inquire into the possibilities of developing coastal resources that are not at present in use-such as wind and wave energy, sea plants, coralline material, and marine evaporites-and into the prospects for tourism, recreation, and cultural and aesthetic activities in coastal areas, all of which could substantially increase the income of coastal people. In this respect, the provision of information on innovative activities from other comparable coastal regions will be of much value in broadening the approach to coastal management in Indonesia.


In the first year the coastal resources management project will be run by agencies of LIPI, in particular the Lembaga Oseanologi Nasional, in association with the United Nations University.

The project will be initiated by means of this programmatic workshop, at which existing data will be presented and reviewed, comparable case studies documented, and specific problems discussed, particularly during a field trip to the Cimanuk Delta coast.

In the course of this workshop we shall allocate for detailed study by each of the six selected Indonesian graduates a research problem of relevance to coastal management on the Cimanuk Delta, bearing in mind practical applications that will benefit the people living in that coastal area (for example, water-supply and water-quality management). These studies will be presented as scientific papers for academic assessment in August 1980. In addition, the six students and their supervisors will take part in a group project to review the problems of deltaic coastal management with special reference to the Cimanuk Delta, and to prepare recommendations on issues of concern and possible benefit to local inhabitants. Reports will be published towards the end of 1980.

Contents - Previous - Next