The scope and complexity of integrated coastal management (ICM) programs which can be successfully implemented by any nation is directly dependent on its national capacity. Yet, despite substantive efforts over the last decade in education and training in countries of the Western Indian Ocean region, there remains insufficient individual and institutional capacity to implement meaningful coastal management programs. The reasons for this are many and varied.
In March 2001,WIOMSA and CRC embarked on delivering a course, Learning & Performing: Developing Skills for Coastal Management Practitioners in the Western Indian Ocean Region, which would begin to address the root causes of limited regional capacity for coastal management. This meant delivering a course that would not only focus on building individuals’ knowledge and skills, but a course which through a series of interventions would expand and strengthen the network of individuals and, hopefully, even institutions contributing to coastal management in the region. It meant delivering a course that gave participants a taste of the breadth and depth of coastal management plans and programs, and the technical and professional expertise existing in the region. It meant delivering a course that focused not on the technical and scientific knowledge and skills for coastal management, but on the professional, project management, and ICM practice skills and knowledge critical to today’s coastal manager—skills that include policy and decision making, conflict resolution, and communications. It meant linking participants—the region’s up-and-coming leaders for coastal management— with more experienced mentors, individuals already recognized as leading the way in coastal management in the region. It meant using local experts as trainers, and using local, indigenous knowledge in parallel with accessing the latest in knowledge and information technology transfers. The Learning & Performing course was an experiment—a successful experiment that took a bold new approach. Yet, it is meant to serve as only the first in a series of initiatives within the Western Indian Ocean region, a series which will—over the longer term— significantly build the region’s capacity to sustainably manage its own precious coasts.