Sun | Jun 13, 2021

Earth Today | Regional NGO urges civil society involvement in oceans management

Published:Thursday | May 30, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Civil society representatives from the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf region in discussion during the workshop to develop ‘People Managing Oceans’.
Executive Director for CANARI Nicole Leotaud (at right, front row) with representatives of civil society organisations in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf region, during a workshop to develop ‘People Managing Oceans’.

THE CARIBBEAN Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) is batting for civil society involvement in the management of oceans, the goods and services from which are valued at up to US$21 trillion globally.

“Our oceans are huge and shared by many countries, so effectively managing them and keeping them healthy and productive requires that everyone – including governments, intergovernmental organisations, donors, scientists, fisherfolk, the private sector and civil society – work together to keep them healthy,” said Nicole Leotaud, managing director for CANARI.

“Civil society plays many important roles in ocean management. They do research, including capturing local and traditional as well as scientific knowledge. They raise awareness and advocate to influence the development of policies and plans that help manage ocean resources. They take these policies and plans and turn them into action on the ground, giving tangible help to local communities and vulnerable people,” she added.

It is against this background that the organisation has called for endorsement of ‘People Managing Oceans’, the Civil Society Strategic Action Programme (C-SAP) developed by civil society for civil society to support their role in managing the marine ecosystems in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf region.

Among other things, C-SAP provides a framework of eight strategies and 90 associated actions for the management of key coastal and marine ecosystems: coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, pelagic ecosystems, and continental shelf ecosystems.

It also addresses unsustainable fishing, habitat degradation, and pollution, in addition to climate change; and outlines priorities for strengthening civil society’s capacity and enabling mechanisms for participatory governance and management of oceans.


The eight strategies include:

n Implementing ecosystem-based management of reef and associated ecosystems (e.g., seagrass beds, mangroves, reef slopes and coastal lagoons);

n Developing and enhancing livelihoods based on the sustainable use of coastal and marine resources;

n Enhancing communication to raise awareness and advocate for issues impacting the coastal and marine environment; and

n Facilitating C-SAP implementation, monitoring, evaluation and learning.

On CANARI’s role, Leotaud said: “CANARI is a regional non-profit organisation in the Caribbean that has been working for over 30 years to facilitate and promote participatory approaches to managing natural resources. A big part of this work means helping civil-society organisations to build their capacity to engage in environmental management and governance.

“On the flip side, CANARI also works with governments and intergovernmental organisations to help strengthen mechanisms for engaging with civil society. So we see People Managing Oceans as a powerful framework that can help to achieve our mission of helping civil society,” the executive director noted.

“We are especially excited to see how this can be a model to work in other areas; for example, climate adaptation, to improve how civil society can partner with governments and others to contribute to national and Caribbean development priorities. Frameworks like this can help us to have a much more systematic and long-term approach to building partnerships between civil society, governments and others,” Leotaud added.


Meanwhile, endorsement is being urged from environmental, fisherfolk, women and youth groups working on coastal and marine resources management, as well as from small and microenterprises with an interest in coastal and marine resources management. This is with the goal to reflect agreement with the strategies and actions set out in the programme, and agree, to the extent possible, to support and promote its use within and among organisations.

“It will help civil society be more strategic, better connect with national efforts, and leverage financing. Endorsing People Managing Oceans also sends a strong message that civil society is committed to partnering with others to ensure that our oceans remain healthy and productive. They are saying, ‘We are in this with you’. Then, governments and donors can better see with who, where and how to support civil society’s work,” the CANARI boss said.