MFF’s post-graduate certificate course builds capacity for integrated coastal management in Asia

Location: Bangkok, Thailand. 22nd Aug 2018

Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) is a well-recognised ecosystems-based approach for achieving sustainable development in coastal areas.

Since its implementation in 2007, Mangroves for the Future (MFF) has recognised ICM as an important approach towards the goal of building the resilience of coastal ecosystems and communities. Enhancing the capacity of coastal management practitioners at local, national and regional levels — whether in government, NGOs, the private sector, or research and academic institutions — is fundamental to achieving this goal.

 

ToT participants in a mangrove forest during a field trip to Bang Pu. © Elaine Mumford - IUCN/MFF

Over the years, MFF has implemented a range of ICM capacity-building activities, including:

  • Enhancing governance mechanisms for ICM;
  • Developing national vocational workshops and short training events for provincial government officers;
  • Conducting regional scientific symposiums and learning events;
  • Facilitating study visits for bilateral exchange of knowledge and experience; and
  • Creating networks of coastal ecosystem managers, researchers and other practitioners.

 

Meeting ICM needs in MFF countries

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 programme was designed as an intensive six week course, and was offered on a near-annual basis at the AIT campus. Since it began in 2007, more than 140 mid-career professionals from government and non-government organisations in 11 MFF member countries across Asia have completed it.  To enhance collaboration and synergies between regional coastal and marine programmes, the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) project also supported a number of participants to complete it.

This comprehensive, accredited post-graduate certificate course provided opportunities for participants to learn about ICM programmes and experiences from around the Asia region and the world. Participants also undertook field study visits to apply the knowledge and skills gained during the course in order to conduct situation analyses and design model ICM projects at coastal sites in Thailand.

In 2018, MFF reached out to all alumni from the course to better understand how they applied what they had learnt in the course, and what impact it had on their career. More than 95% of alumni said their understanding of ICM tools and approaches was significantly improved following the course and that it had helped with their career development. Encouragingly, almost 50% of alumni now work within government agencies with responsibilities linked to ICM.

Completing the ICM course really helped shape my career, particularly when I was asked to develop a long-term monitoring programme for the coral reefs of Lakshadweep in India,” said Dr Rajkumar Rajan, a scientist at the Marine Biology Regional Centre of the Zoological Survey of India. “I was able to apply the tools and management approaches that I had learned and took the lead to develop integrated management guidelines for the reefs. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if I hadn’t successfully completed the ICM course.”

 

ToT participants and MFF staff are introduced to the threats of coastal erosion facing Bang Kun Thian © Elaine Mumford - IUCN/MFF

Strengthening and developing national curriculums

Building on this success, MFF began to consider how to broaden the impact and reach of the ICM course across the region. MFF proceeded to commission capacity needs assessments in all 11 of its member countries. The purpose was to assess the needs and opportunities for the regional course to be institutionalised in national education institutions. Five countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – identified the need to develop or strengthen their national ICM training programmes.  Other countries already had national-level courses or were receiving long-term support from other intergovernmental organisations such as Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).

MFF initiated discussions with training institutions in these five countries, mainly universities and government departments, to anchor the ICM regional course. After identifying key partners, the next step was to ensure that academic and government staff were confident in delivering the training course to the next generation of ICM practitioners at their institutions.

 

Training the trainers

During June and July 2018, MFF and AIT hosted a Regional Training of Trainers (ToT) ICM course with 25 staff from training institutions in the five countries.

These included:

  • Bangladesh: University of Chittagong; Marine Fisheries Academy, Fish Harbour, Chittagong
  • Cambodia: Royal University of Phnom-Penh (RUPP); Pannasstra University of Cambodia (PUC)
  • Myanmar: Myeik University, Pathein University, Mawlamyine University, Forest Department, and Fisheries Department
  • Pakistan: Lasbella University; University of Karachi;
  • Sri Lanka: Ocean University; University of Ruhuna; Marine Environment Protection Authority; Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department

During the ToT course, participants reviewed the structure of the ICM course curriculum developed by MFF, learnt about designing an ICM course that complemented their existing teaching programmes, and learnt how to develop field-based exercises to demonstrate and apply the principles and tools of ICM.  A peer-to-peer learning approach was used during the ToT course to allow for close interaction between participants so they could share their knowledge and experience from each of their national contexts.  Following four weeks of classroom-based sessions, the participants undertook a field study visit to Chon Buri and Samut Prakarn provinces to explore key activities impacting coastal ecosystems in Thailand – particularly tourism, aquaculture, and coastal erosion management. Building on this, participants then developed ICM case study examples that can be used in the training courses they will be implementing at their national institutions. 

 

ToT participants presenting group findings during a classroom session at AIT © Elaine Mumford - IUCN/MFF

The ICM course exceeded my expectations,” said Socheata Kim, from the Royal University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia.“I didn’t anticipate the parts on good governance, the very technical coursework, the community-based conflict and resolution aspect… the course really went above and beyond.”

Moving forward, MFF will continue to support these institutions by providing advice on course structure, training materials and case studies. MFF is also working closely with the BOBLME project to explore opportunities to lead further ICM capacity development activities in the region during Phase 2 of the project, which begins in 2019.   

 

For more information on the ICM course click the following links:

Regional Integrated Coastal Management training course extended to Cambodia

New course shines spotlight on Integrated Coastal Management training needs

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ToT participants doing groupwork during a classroom session ... © Elaine Mumford - MFF/IUCN

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