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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Interagency partnerships in pollution monitoring / Xiamen-China.

Posted By: Chua Thia-Eng
Date: Tuesday, 27 July 1999, at 7:05 p.m.

Key words: common standards, data sharing, marine pollution.

DESCRIPTION: The GEF/UNDP/IMO Regional Programme for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pollution in the East Asian Seas has initiated an ICM demonstration site in Xiamen, China in an effort to address coastal and marine pollution in an area that is in a critical state of accelerated economic development.

As part of the ICM framework, marine pollution monitoring is built into local integrated coastal management systems. ICM projects occur in environmentally strategic sites and monitoring results provide a useful profile on the changes in the marine environment which not only proves useful for management plan formulation but acts as an indicator for project impact and success.

Previously, monitoring efforts in Xiamen have been undertaken by five individual groups whose actions were splintered and had little to do with each other. Though their mandates and functions differed from each other, they were overlapping and information exchange between groups was minimal. Monitoring technologies and methodologies varied among the groups and the results obtained were inevitably incompatible and of minimal use to help influence coastal management interventions.

To address this problem, the Xiamen Demonstration Site initiated an effort to develop collaboration among the five agencies and emphasise the use of pollution monitoring information for strengthening management of the marine environment.

Consultation among the different monitoring groups led to a new arrangement under which:

- an integrated marine environment monitoring program was formulated,

- inter-calibration among participating laboratories was conducted,

- personnel were trained,

- equipment sharing was practised and monitoring data exchanged.

Five government institutions and a state university now carry out an operational monitoring program. Under the ICM framework, the groups have rationalised their monitoring tasks and optimised the sampling and monitoring program so that their efforts complement rather than duplicate. Inter-comparison exercises among the participating organisations have shown that, except for a few parameters, the laboratories are able to obtain accurate and comparable results. The data acquired are now being assessed and will be packaged to provide guidance to the local government.

STATUS: The wise practice (WP) is currently being implemented.


LONG TERM BENEFIT: The WP will improve environmental quality because it enhances the monitoring and analytical capacities of participating institutions which, in turn, enhance the reliability of the data and information produced. Linked to the ICM activities, the monitoring efforts provide important data for coastal and marine managers and decision-makers.

CAPACITY BUILDING AND INSTITUTIONAL STRENGTHENING: The building up of local capacity is critical in the inter-sectoral monitoring approach. Due to the diverse monitoring technologies and methodologies prevalent in the various monitoring groups, capacity building was necessary in the inter-calibration of participating agencies so that their monitoring efforts complemented rather than duplicated. The WP therefore promotes capacity building and institutional strengthening among the stakeholders particularly among the different monitoring agencies.

SUSTAINABILITY: Due to the rationalisation of monitoring tasks, efforts that were once duplicated between institutions were removed therefore increasing monitoring efficiency among the various monitoring institutions. Where one agency once monitored numerous parameters, it can now concentrate on a few parameters using a more equitable amount of human and financial resources. The sustainability of such a monitoring network rests on:

- recognition of the obligations of each of its members;

- agreements on data sharing; and

- adoption of common standards.

TRANSFERABILITY: The WP is attractive and transferable. The selling points of developing partnerships in pollution monitoring include:

- a better use of human and financial resources;

- improved monitoring and analytical capacities of participating institutions which, in turn enhance the reliability of the data and information they produce; and

- sustainability of monitoring activities.

CONSENSUS BUILDING: The WP promotes consensus building, as it always demands local stakeholder consultation and involvement.

CULTURALLY RESPECTFUL: Stakeholder consultation is a major component for public-private partnership efforts. The WP is therefore formed well within the cultural bounds of local stakeholders.

LEGAL NATIONAL POLICY: The activity adheres to current government environmental, economic, legal and social policies.

REGIONAL DIMENSION: One good example of the WP's potential can be seen in the current economic situation prevalent in the East Asian Region. With the current economic slow-down of the East Asian Region due to a recent economic crisis that spread throughout the region, the WP provides cost cutting opportunities for pollution monitoring since monitoring tasks are divided. Each agency will focus only on parameters that they are more comfortable and competent in determining, and periodically submitting, validating and aggregating monitoring results.

DOCUMENTATION: The activity and lessons learned have been well documented and will soon be published.

EVALUATION: Five government institutions and a state university now carry out the wise practice. It has proven quite effective as:

- human and financial resources for monitoring has been used more efficiently;

- field and laboratory methods have been standardised thus enhancing data quality and comparability;

- data and information are shared among participating agencies and with the management council; and

- the use of a pollution index and feedback provided a look on the effectiveness of management interventions.


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