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Coastal Sustainability—An Elusive Pursuit?: Reflections on South Africa's Coastal Policy Experience

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Sustainability is an elusive pursuit. But coastal poverty is a pervasive and debilitating reality for many coastal communities and the coastal management literature provides little explicit direction for tackling poverty. How then can a more people-centred, pro-poor Integrated Coastal Management approach be developed and implemented? The Sustainable Livelihoods approach provides a complementary analytical framework for understanding the nature of poverty and the challenges and opportunities for building sustainable coastal livelihoods. This approach has guided aspects of South Africa's coastal policy implementation effort. This experience exposes significant challenges that must be faced in converting sustainability rhetoric into practical reality and reveals lessons for confronting the underlying drivers of coastal poverty. Ultimately, a people-centred, pro-poor approach must empower poor coastal communities to pursue the mercurial ideal of coastal sustainability through practical, locally relevant interventions.

Keywords: ICM; South Africa; coastal poverty; sustainable livelihoods

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Resource & Environmental Planning Program Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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