Government policies and regulations influence the implementation of resilience principles in several ways:
- Provide the foundation for allocating public funding. Implementation of the principles of representation and replication, protection of critical areas, and connectivity has cost implications. Strong support for these principles in public policies will help in the inevitable deliberations over funding priorities and budgets.
- Provide the framework for national, regional, and local strategies for coastal and marine resource use and management, corresponding institutional roles and relationships, and incentives to private actions. These strategies are an excellent place to make the case for how resilient marine and coastal areas are able to provide reliable, lasting economic and social benefits for people. Policies that involve local communities and other resource users in management processes can facilitate effective management and reduce costs of enforcement. Clear delineation of roles and responsibilities among government agencies—and between different levels of government—can do the same. Strong policies provide support for the protection of critical areas, such as spawning aggregation sites, or mangrove areas within MPA networks.
- Determine what measures are used and what information is collected to guide adaptive management. Managers need information on whether the application of resilience principles is working. Data collected by governments—directly or through partnerships with others—are likely to be the main source of this information. What data are collected, by whom, and how they are used will largely be determined by the policies and regulations that govern coastal and marine management.
- Provide the link between national actions and commitments in international agreements—and sometimes financial and technical assistance—related to marine conservation. The actions agreed upon in paragraph 32 of the Implementation Plan of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002), and in the Programs of Work on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity and on Protected Areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity reflect the importance of applying resilience principles in coastal and marine management policies. Making explicit links to these agreements in national policy will enable countries to report on progress, and to share lessons learned with others in relevant regional or global meetings. In addition, assistance from international funding agencies, such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is often linked to country implementation of these agreements.
Therefore, working to establish a favorable public policy environment for incorporating resilience principles, in national and local coastal and marine management, can be a major factor in the success of these efforts.
Several actions can be taken to support government policy or regulatory changes that reflect better the resilience principles:
- Develop credible information and analyses that show how implementing the resilience principles can lead to more reliable and sustained benefits for people from coastal and marine resources. These benefits include increased livelihood security for poor communities that substantially rely on these resources, sustainable fish stocks for commercial and recreational fishers, and enjoyable tourism opportunities. Different benefits may appeal to different audiences, which may be important in influencing public policy decisions. This information can then provide the basis for effective communication efforts, using various media aimed at providing a strong rationale for government and private actions to implement these principles, including through policy changes.
- A number of individuals, officials, legislators, organizations, government agencies, and other interest groups have stakes in and an influence on public policy regarding marine and coastal resource management. These will likely vary for different situations and levels of government (i.e., local, provincial or national). Identifying influential stakeholders, providing them information, and involving them in discussions about the benefits of implementing the resilience principles will be important to build support for establishing favorable policies and regulations.
- Building strong partnerships and coalitions among groups interested in resilient marine resources is an effective way to help build supportive policies and regulations. It is important to engage and build relationships with all interested stakeholders, including representatives from government, industry, academia, and civil society organizations.
- Suggested legislative or regulatory language put forward by such coalitions can help move beyond general discussions of principles, to specific provisions that will create favorable conditions for implementing the resilience principles.