Our Coastal Futures – A Strategy for the Sustainable Development of the World’s Coasts
“Coastal zones are the frontline in our global quest for a sustainable future.”
Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO
Arguably the most valued but imperilled social-ecological system on earth, coasts are characterised by pervasive unsustainable practices and unrealised potential. Human and planetary well-being will be measured by the extent to which coastal communities can navigate towards sustainable development pathways. Such aspirations have underpinned the Future Earth Coast project since it first started in 1993 under its former name of Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ).
Realising this aspiration necessitates critical reflection on prevailing practices, institutional structures and processes, including the interconnected dimensions of coastal development (such as ethical, cultural, political, social, economic, institutional, technological and behavioural). There is a compelling need for new trajectories of coastal research that transcend disciplinary boundaries and bridge the divides between science, policy and practice.
Consequently, there is a drive for international scientific collaboration and engagement between natural and social scientists, in partnership with society and users of science, to generate knowledge that can support transformations to a sustainable world.
Towards this end, Future Earth Coasts has produced the OUR COASTAL FUTURES strategy to promote action towards the sustainable development of the world’s coasts. The implementation of “OUR COASTAL FUTURES” strategy will help stakeholders work together to unlock regionally appropriate opportunities for the sustainable development of our shared coastal zones. The strategy will:
- Enable regional stakeholders and institutions to develop a common understanding of their coasts and future prospects;
- Co-design robust strategies to chart desired coastal futures; and
- Co-produce innovative coastal sustainability initiatives and pathways to achieve these desired outcomes, and realise the Sustainable Development Goals.
The strategy document was recently used at the #OurCoastalFutures workshop – Looking for a future in assessments held from 26-28 March in Cork | Ireland. The output of this workshop is summarized here. You can also read more about the workshop in this blog post by Heath Kelsey from the Integration and Application network, University of Maryland.