Quezon City, Philippines — "Tired but very fulfilled", was how a member of the delegation from the Vietnam Administration for Seas and Islands (VASI) described how he felt after the study tour to integrated coastal management (ICM) sites in the Philippines last 19-24 September, 2010. With the main objective of learning about practical experiences of local coastal communities in managing the marine and coastal environment, representatives from VASI rolled up their sleeves and (almost) got their feet wet in the Bataan and Cavite ICM sites in the Philippines. Observing firsthand the practical application of ICM on the ground was useful for them as they too will soon be developing community participation programs in Vietnam.
The boat rides to marine sanctuaries, walks through mangrove areas, visits to bird and turtle conservation areas and more importantly, the engagement with local resource managers, government units and ICM advocates helped concretize and show how ICM is put into practice. Transcending the language difference, the hosts in the local communities and the foreign visitors shared the common understanding of and appreciation for ICM. It was very gratifying to observe how coastal management experiences and social and political realities were shared and passed on, literally, across three languages. Words may have been expressed in different ways but there was one clear message, ICM helps.Mr. Nguyen Dang Dao, the Deputy Administrator of VASI headed the nine-man delegation composed of officers from the Departments of Seas and Islands Use Management (DSIUM), International Cooperation, Science and Technology and Planning and Finance. They were hosted and very well received in the provinces of Bataan and Cavite by the Governors, Mayors of local municipalities and their staff, and the local community leaders. The visits were organized by the ICM Project Management Offices in Bataan and Cavite.With ICM scaling up being planned and prepared for in the northern and southern areas of Vietnam, the study tour has hopefully shared insights, practical experiences and good practices in ICM development and application that VASI may have found useful.