ICZM in Sudan

Toward developing a responsible coastal management in « Hot Spots » of biodiversity while giving access in a sustainable way to ecosystem services they could provide to the coastal populations in needs.

More than 50 years after Jacques Cousteau first filmed the reefs of Sudan, shooting the movies « The Silent World » and « The World without Sun » in Sudan, Equipe Cousteau has gathered a network of partners and a multidisciplinary team to carry out the most comprehensive survey of the Sudanese Red Sea coast and underwater environment ever attempted. During this survey, experts assessed the initial conditions of the coastal system to design a science-based Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) plan for the coastal zone of Sudan.

The survey, funded primarily by the European Commission, is one of the first steps in a much wider project. The project aims to tackle poverty alleviation and conflict resolution in relation to the fragile resources of the Sudanese marine environment. Following the commemorative expedition to The Red Sea in 2004, The Cousteau Society formed a consortium of partners including the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA), UNESCO, UNIDO, CORDIO, Red Sea University, and African Parks Foundation. Their objective was to work with the government of Sudan's Red Sea State to establish Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the country, and to build capacity in ecosystem management. The first step in the project was the assessment of the condition of the coastline: not just the natural assets but also the socioeconomic and legal situation in coastal areas.

What is ICZM?

The European Commission defines integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) as: “A continuous process of administration, the general aim of which is to put into practice sustainable development and conservation in coastal zones and to maintain their biodiversity. To this end, ICZM seeks, through more efficient management, to establish and maintain the best use and sustainable levels of development and activity (use) in the coastal zone, and, over time, to improve the physical status of the coastal environment”.

The context

A long history of instability (37 years of war out of 48 years of independence) has left most of Sudan, including the Red Sea State, in a state of social, economic, political and environmental disarray. The region’s current political context provides a specific backdrop to the Cousteau project. After 10 years of armed insurgency, the rebels of East Sudan signed an agreement on 14 October 2006 in which the Central Sudanese Government offered them a power-sharing role. This agreement was called the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA), which was developed as an offshoot of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with the southern rebellion and is incorporated into Sudan’s 2005 Interim National Constitution (INC). They are both currently the guiding documents for national governance and constitutes an important step towards achieving civil peace in the area.

The ESPA specifically outlines the following clauses and stipulations relating to ICZM:
‘The people of Sudan, including the people of Eastern Sudan, shall have the right to a clean and diverse environment. The State shall not pursue any policy or take any action, which may adversely affect the existence of any species or animal or vegetative life, their natural or adopted habitat. Best known practices in efficient utilization of natural resources and environmental management shall be adopted.’ (ESPA, 2006: Article 19, point 50).
Successful peace negotiations leading to the CPA and ESPA presented an historic opportunity to address the situation of human development together with environmental issues. Many conflicts arise from competing and destructive use of natural resources. Planning, cooperation and carefully monitored use is absolutely vital to overcome and prevent renewed tension. Over the last three decades, frequent occurrence of drought and famine conditions in the Red Sea hills has been the norm. The impact of environmental degradation includes the destruction of the natural environment in rural and marine areas, as the demand for their resources is increasing (e.g. firewood and charcoal, livestock and fishing), thus accelerating the degradation of the resources.

The Cousteau ICZM Project in Sudan

As such, the ICZM Project represents a flagship initiative that was designed in order to address the root causes of both poverty and ecological degradation and, accordingly, to link the conservation of Sudan’s marine and coastal environment with improving the quality of life for Red Sea State communities.
ICZM further supports the fulfilment of Sudan’s general obligations under the multilateral environmental agreements to which the country is party, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of Implementation (WSSD), as well as International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions, RAMSAR, United Nations Convention on Climate Change, among others. It also provides a framework for achieving food security, sustainable livelihoods, poverty alleviation, improvement of sanitation conditions and reduction of vulnerability to natural hazards, whilst preserving ecological integrity and associated long-term human and environmental health.
Addressing all these while establishing the new governance structures set out in the peace protocols will require immense political will, sustained resources, and collective engagement among all stakeholders: not only by the authorities but also civil society, the international community and the private sector.

The survey (Phase 1) of the ICZM Project in the Red Sea led to:

An overview of the coastal Habitat and biodiversity of the Red Sea State of Sudan (750 km of coast): Both boat and land based surveys of Sudanese coastal habitat has been carried out on more then 60% of the coast. This effort led to habitat mapping and the identification of key environmental issues linked to the exploitation of living resources.
A description of the socioeconomic environment and its specific link to livelihood issues in coastal areas: Socioeconomic data have been collected and compiled in a database and possible livelihood interventions identified in a pilot area; namely, the Dungonab Marine National Park. In partnership with UNESCO, initial training has been provided to the RSS education sector to prepare them to make the necessary curriculum reforms to cope with environmental education.
A description of the Governance in the RSS of crosscutting issues linked to the coastal zone: the major outputs have been the establishment of an official ICZM Office in Port Sudan, a preliminary, legal review of the existing environmental and sustainable development legislation; a risk management assessment of navigational and industrial hazards; and, the establishment of an official RSS GIS to assist future management decision-making.
Analysis of and recommendations for key environmental issues and future interventions that could lead to an efficient integrated approach to the complex coastal systems.

Overshadowing the whole project is the need to provide Sudanese decision makers with the tools and information necessary to manage the predicted development of the coastal area, whilst protecting its unparalleled natural heritage.

The ICZM process includes 3 phases.