A large number of initiatives under the Green Coast have aimed at creating community stakes into ecosystem reconstruction through small scale micro enterprise interventions. These initiatives, termed as eco enterprises, are aimed at generation of financial incentives in the short to medium term through sustainable use of locally available natural resources.
An experience sharing workshop of the Green Coast partner organizations implementing eco enterprises initiatives was held at Nagercoil on the 21 November 2006. The primary objective of this one day workshop, attended by 47 participants from 27 Green Coast partners, was to share experiences on implementation and developing an action plan for strengthening these enterprises to achieve sustainability within the time frame of the first phase of Green Coast Project.
The workshop was organized in three sessions. The first session comprised presentations by the partners on the concept and status of implementation of the eco enterprise initiatives. This was followed by an exhibition wherein the partners displayed their micro enterprise produce explaining to each other the techniques adopted and the variety of goods produced. The second and third sessions focused on the constraints faced and the interventions which could be undertaken within the Green Coast framework to strengthen the projects. The workshop was facilitated by V. Dakshinamurthy and Ritesh Kumar (Wetlands International – South Asia ). Marielies Schlehaas (International Union for Conservation of Nature, The Netherlands) was the special guest of the workshop.
The workshop concluded that eco enterprises have played an important role in creating financial incentives for the participating communities in the short and medium term. However, the participants stressed on the need to support these initiatives through capacity building and skill upgradation. The significant role played by women groups in implementation of most of the initiatives leading to their empowerment was also highlighted by the participants. The skill diversification achieved through continuous infusion of new skills had served to increase community resilience through diversification of livelihoods.
The workshop recommended that Green Coast should aim at providing certain critical capacity building and skill upgradation as identified in the action plan. Efforts should be made to provide direction and guidance to these groups for atleast six months to enable them financial self reliance. A lot could be achieved through networking and enhancing technical and experience exchange between the implementing partners. Additionally, the groups should be used as nodes for conveying the green coast vision of sustainable coastal ecosystem reconstruction and livelihood restoration. A greater involvement in the project through communication of the project outcomes would help address the grass root coastal communities, which is a significant opportunity for the project.