Article | 06 Mar, 2019

Asia’s largest coastal resource management programme sets sights on further growth

The continuous application of Mangroves for the Future’s (MFF) knowledge and governance structures to leverage and scale up MFF investments, share knowledge and influence national policy development, is critical in contributing to sustainable coastal resource management in Asia.

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Photo: IUCN

This was the clear message that emerged at the MFF completion workshop held in Bangkok, Thailand on February 13, 2019. The workshop presented MFF’s achievements over the years, its plans moving forward, and initiatives that can be scaled up or replicated.

Initiatives that had a positive impact at the national or local level, include natural resource governance mechanisms for mangrove and water resource management, nature-based solutions for wastewater treatment and mangrove restoration, climate-smart agriculture, mangrove polyculture systems, and strengthening capacity for integrated coastal management (ICM).   

MFF can be viewed as an ecosystem of good practices, which has generated a great amount of co-funding from governments and international projects and programmes,” said Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director IUCN Asia.

Since its inception, MFF has overseen more than 380 grant projects implemented primarily by local civil society organisations, delivering on-the-ground results for the wellbeing of coastal ecosystems and communities. The projects also contributed to meeting the targets of Multilateral Environmental Agreements and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 1, SDG 5, SDG 13 and SDG 14.

In terms of governance, MFF established multi-stakeholder National Coordinating Bodies in 11 countries to provide support in programme implementation, knowledge management, and policy influence for sustainable coastal resources management.

In 2007, MFF teamed up with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) to develop a regional postgraduate ICM certificate course that combined academic lectures, practical skills training, and field-based learning about coastal management. The ICM course has now been integrated at 12 universities in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

As a result of MFF projects and interventions, national Marine Protected Areas and Locally Managed Marine Areas have been established in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Viet Nam. The creation of MPAs directly contributes to SDG 14, in particular, and national commitments to Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

MFF National Coordinator and NCB Chair Cambodia present MFF's engagement for MPA in Cambodia       Photo: IUCN

The MFF Regional Knowledge Hub has also been established, providing access to information, expertise, and lessons learned from MFF projects in the form of case studies, and through the interactive Knowledge Network platform. For example, MFF has formulated the ICM Training Development Knowledge Network to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences between academic staff at seven universities around Asia.   

Gender Mainstreaming in coastal resources management has been an important component of the programme, with 78% of MFF’s Small Grant Facility projects contributing to addressing women’s needs and interests. Of these projects, 75% provided education, skills development and awareness to women and their families while others focused on the development of women-led livelihood initiatives.

In collaboration with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), MFF developed a Gender Analysis Toolkit for Coastal Management Practitioners to improve gender integration and mainstreaming in coastal resources management. As part of the collaboration, MFF also published a Regional Gender Synthesis, which will help share MFF’s knowledge of the gender context in South and Southeast Asia with policy-makers and practitioners.

Moving forward, MFF partner countries have confirmed that the National Coordinating Bodies will be maintained as soft governance platforms for strategic planning, implementation, knowledge sharing, and policy influence.

A number of project development measures aimed at securing funding for the continuation of the hallmark programme components and country priorities in coastal resources governance, are also underway.  

At the regional level project proposals to the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility are being developed.

IUCN is also working with FAO on a Project Preparation Grant phase to develop the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) project. Over the next few months, IUCN will organise national consultation workshops in six of the eight countries: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand in order to facilitate dialogues between key national stakeholders from the fisheries and environment sectors relevant to the development of the FAO GEF-6 project. These consultations rely on the NCB platforms in each country to highlight specific national priorities. In addition to this, IUCN is in discussions with FAO to develop a Regional GEF-7 International Waters Project that will bring further funding for the BOBLME implementing phase, with a focus on securing funding for country activities.

Jose Padilla, Regional Technical Advisor (Water, Coastal, Marine), United Nations Development Program       Photo: IUCN

I’m grateful to participate in MFF’s completion workshop,” said Jose Padilla, Regional Technical Advisor (Water, Coastal, Marine), United Nations Development Program. “A completion workshop is a sign of accomplishment and MFF through its many years of work has carved out a niche regionally and internationally.”

Mangroves for the Future (MFF) is a partnership-based regional initiative which promotes investment in coastal ecosystem conservation for sustainable development. MFF focuses on the role that healthy, well-managed coastal ecosystems play in building the resilience of ecosystem-dependent coastal communities in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. The initiative uses mangroves as a flagship ecosystem, but MFF is inclusive of all types of coastal ecosystem, such as coral reefs, estuaries, lagoons, sandy beaches, sea grasses and wetlands. MFF is co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP, and is funded by Danida, Norad, and Sida and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Thailand.