Please put your thinking caps on

Fri May 24 10:11:11 EDT 2002


I wish you the best of luck. I would not go to a World Summit at =

My experience with these "high-level" meetings is that they are =
dominated by politicians (of all stripes and types) who are not the =
slightest bit interested in listening to others, but extremely =
interested in pushing their own agendas. I have avoided such meetings =
assiduously for the last few decades, and am much the happier for it.

We should all realise that a widespread view in lesser-developed nations
holds that interest in reefs is driven by First World academics who like
working in nice places. (This is not a view with which we could all =
disagree with clear consciences...) The pernicious "Wise Use" mindset is
now fairly common, in which reefs are viewed as resources, to be =
utilised sustainably. No one in positions of power understands that =
sustainable development is an oxymoron. So, we need to find the handles.

In our narrow focus on our ecosystem, we sometimes lose sight of the =
fact that the overarching concern of the next 50 years will be access to
good water. Everything else will pale by comparison. Countries are also
beginning to adopt integrated water resource management plans, some of =
them organised by advanced decision-support systems. Coastal zone =
management is a subset of these plans, and reefs come under that rubric.
"We need to understand that coral reef management begins at the top of =
the mountain, and flows down to the sea through the villages and =
churches and mosques." (Sound track, "People of the Reefs.")

If we push our ecosystem, we are no better than all the other special =
pleaders. My suggestion is, we push for water resource programs, because
it's a Good Thing. And then we ensure that reefs are under those =
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