Thursday, April 1, 2010

Interesting coastal management discussion continues on Dlist

I posted earlier here and here about the coastal management discussion I started over on Dlist. A local government representative responded thoughtfully. Here it is with my response.

"In response to Jenny's comments:

From a local government perspective (City of Cape Town - approx 22000 employees, 11 different directorates), and as a representative of the City's coastal management branch, the achievement of ICM is unfortunately more complex than simply obeying the stick from pressure groups. Firstly, with ICM, as with sustainable development, there is no straightforward success or failure - there are 'degrees' of success or failure. Measuring (or quantifying) these degrees of success or failure is difficult to determine. This is especially so considering that every decision that is made, more often than not results in a trade-off. Each decision that is made will therefore either be to the benefit or detriment of others, depending on which pressure/interest group you represent. One therefore has to navigate through the various and complex socio-economic pressures and find a balance. Oftentimes, and from an 'external' perspective, this is perceived as 'failing' at ICM. A case in point: an exclusive estate is loosing property frontage to erosion. In order to put in place a hard engineering defense-solution to address erosion, an EIA is required by law. This will cost a couple hundred thousand rand. This particular estate will be able to barley cover the expenses for this. And then of course the actual engineering structure, which is estimated to run into millions of rands. The estate expects the local authority to coordinate this project, and pay for it. How can the local authority justify investing millions of rands into this project for a wealthy estate, when a significant proportion of the City of Cape Town's population do not have houses? The lack of financial support given to this estate is however seen as a failure on the City's behalf from an ICM perspective. This failure is magnified given the estate's relative power. 'Commissions' will by no means address the complexities of achieving higher degrees of ICM or improve local authorities capacity. "


And my response:

"Thanks Darryl for your comment. I think it along with Jenny’s comments illustrates a common relationship that people who work in ICM often find themselves. Darryl, as a local government representative, is on the receiving end of ICM proponents like Jenny. And notice how he immediately rejects what he perceived to be Jenny’s endorsement of the “stick.” From his point of view ICM proponents are “pressure groups” with agendas that local governments, even if sympathetic, can only accommodate partially given the multitude of other problems that they must contend with. Also note, however, how in Darren’s specific example ICM is somewhat caricatured as simply another conservation-at-all-costs agitator. It is likely that both sides would quibble with how they are being represented by each other (and with how I am representing them) and that is precisely the point. If two well-educated people from the same country can misunderstand/misrepresent each other, imagine the even greater misunderstandings that likely occur when foreign ICM proponents walk into rural villages in Madagascar or Angola. And then imagine how these two groups of people, likely for very different reasons, decide to set up entirely new organizations to deal with problems about which they have their own (likely distinct and mutually misunderstood) “solutions” to."


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