Fear of breakthroughs

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, one of the 'Top 11 worst beach destinations in the world

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, one of the ‘Top 11 worst beach destinations in the world

Don’t you hate those moments in life when what you believe in comes crashing down? Yet, you know deep down “the universe is unfolding as it should” – shall I quote Max Ehrmann, Desiderata.

That moment happened last year when a coastal colleague and dear friend, Dan Ware from Griffith University sat me down and explicitly said that there is no such thing as integrated coastal zone management (ICM). Despite the realms of reports, plans and strategies that have led us to believe that there is and can be an “integrated” approach to protect beaches, waves, coasts and oceans.

The reality is that the truth has been spoken and widely documented although not entirely as explicit as Ware might say. That being despite the good intentions of ICM politics and people are the key drivers of coastal decisions. This might be OK (good enough) if management didn’t exist. But management does exist and unfortunately politics and people can’t be translated into manicured Ghant charts scientists and engineers who are classically trained to solve the dynamic nature of beaches, waves, coasts and oceans attempt to follow.

With no disrespect to the good intentions of the Rio Summit 1992 when ICM was born, it is refreshing to hear coastal leaders speak the truth and from the heart. As Ware wholeheartedly expressed this afternoon at Griffith University’s TEDx Talk, our fear of the coast, the truth of the coast and love for the coast should be the drivers of coastal decisions. And more importantly to move beyond the myths and silos that plague the limitations and challenges of ICM.

If you read the between lines it’s not all bad news. It’s simply a story that has halted progress, creativity and innovation. If you like happy endings like I do, it’s time to move beyond the stagnant SWOT analyses that limit new discoveries. It’s time for change. Global change.

Just as I was saying to my supervisor this afternoon: ‘where there is a will there is a way, and where there is a dream there is hope, and where there is passion, there is a vision’.

My passion is healthy beaches and happy communities. And my vision is happy beaches.

It takes a breakthrough to discover what can be and what should be, although, it takes courage to tread in the waters of fear. I overcame my coastal fear last year and that is when I discovered beach happiness.

I will forever be in debt to Ware for his passion, courage and knowledge to inspire change – change on a global scale.