The coastal and marine environment plays a vital role in supporting human welfare by virtue of its immense biological and mineral resources and the life-supporting systems it provides. Production operations and economic installations along the coast, such as marine fishing, aquaculture, agriculture, oil and gas exploration, ports and harbours, and tourism, contribute significantly to the global gross domestic product (GDP).1 For instance, nearly 500 million people (including nearly 30 million poor people) depend directly and indirectly on coral reefs for their livelihoods, food and other resources (Wilkinson, 2004). Further, it is estimated that up to 80 percent of the global fish catch is directly or indirectly dependent on mangroves (Sullivan, 2005).
Five countries in South Asia – Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have extensive mangroves, coral reefs, and sand dunes that harbor some of the world’s most significant coastal and marine biodiversity. The coastal sub-region of South Asia is home to about 400 million people, many are poor and vulnerable. The sub-region also faces increasing occurrence of natural hazards such as cyclones, floods and tidal surges; rapid changes in land-use; and climate variability. Integrated management of coastal and marine environment is crucial to ensure the long-term sustainability of this sub-region.
A Toolkit for “Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation into Ecosystem Management of Coastal and Marine Areas in South Asia” is a joint effort by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Asia Pacific Secretariat.
The Toolkit offers a step-by-step guide for integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation into the coastal and marine ecosystem management that will be quite useful for the field practitioners of coastal areas in the sub-region. The toolkit is accompanied with the publication on current status, providing the context of coastal and marine ecosystem management in South Asia. Both these publications build on UNDP’s new Biodiversity and Ecosystems Global Framework, titled The Future We Want: Biodiversity and Ecosystems – Driving Sustainable Development that calls for a shift in focus towards the positive opportunities provided by biodiversity and natural ecosystems, in terms of harnessing their potential for sustainable development.