Towards increased degrees of integrated coastal management in the City of Cape Town, South Africa

Last modified: 
August 30, 2016 - 9:38am
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2015
Date published: 03/2015
Authors: Louis Celliers, Darryl Colenbrander, Tandi Breetzke, Gregg Oelofse
Journal title: Ocean & Coastal Management
Volume: 105
Pages: 138 - 153
ISSN: 09645691

Integrated coastal management (ICM) is the paradigm for sustainable coastal development in South Africa and has been, since 2008, entrenched in government decision-making by the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, Act No. 24 of 2008 (ICM Act). The coast is a complex and dynamic space as a nexus of widely ranging and often conflicting socio-economic interests. ICM requires understanding and management of coastal systems at national and provincial policy-level but, more importantly, at the local government level. The ICM Act devolves some responsibility to municipalities, the smallest autonomous administrative management unit on the coast. However, this Act and the international literature are virtually silent on the most effective institutional arrangements to progress towards ICM within municipalities. This study is a “bottom-up” or examination of a number of internal institutional arrangements deemed appropriate to affect an increased degree of ICM within the City of Cape Town. This paper presents data and information that were collected during an institutional assessment of the coastal management competency in that city. Using a combination of qualitative methods, it was possible to assess three a priori scenarios of institutional arrangements for ICM in a large well-resourced municipality. The assessment resulted in a number of principles for the structuring of municipal institutions to increase the degree of ICM. The authors (from local government and the private, and research sector) contend that these principles are first applicable to metropolitan cities of South Africa but that it could also apply to local-level administrative units elsewhere. The data from the City of Cape Town indicate relatively low degrees of ICM, commensurately low degrees of political interest and constrained institutions, even within the buoyant and well-structured national ICM framework. Political interest; interpersonal and departmental conflicts; institutional idiosyncrasies, and overlapping operational mandates are not empirically measurable but are fundamentally rooted to the effectiveness of ICM.

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