Assessing Progress Toward the Goals of Coastal Management
The fundamental purpose of all coastal management initiatives is to maintain, restore, or improve specified qualities of coastal ecosystems and their associated human societies. A defining feature of coastal management is that it addresses needs for both development and conservation in geographically specific places - be they a single community, an estuary, or the coast of an entire nation. The times required to achieve these fundamental goals at significant spatial scales far exceed those of the usual four- to six-year project, the dominant integrated coastal management (ICM) modality in developing nations. Two simple but elastic frameworks are offered for assessing progress over the extended time periods involved. The first is the four orders of outcomes that group the institutional, behavioral, and social/environmental changes that can lead to more sustainable forms of coastal development. The second framework is a version of the more familiar ICM policy cycle. These frameworks are applied to two portfolios of coastal management projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, each of which extended over four to five years with a total investment in excess of U.S.$15 million. The analysis reveals striking similarities in the assumptions that underpin the designs and the expectations of each project despite major differences in the contexts within which they operated. The results of these eight projects point to a need for operational frameworks to emphasize the linkages between different groups of activities and achievements. Greater care is needed to balance the capacity of the implementing institutions with the complexity of the issues to be addressed. In Latin America there is great uncertainty on how to proceed toward better coastal governance in the absence of either formal national mandates or the prospect of sustained funding for programs of demonstrated effectiveness. The evaluative methods discussed are proving useful in identifying a critical path for each initiative that can lead to the fundamental goals of coastal management and identify the learnings within each project that need to be incorporated along he way.