Some 37 per cent of the world's population lives within 100 km of the coast, at a population density twice the global average.
Heavy population pressure on the coasts is causing more and more of the natural environment to be paved over or converted into ports, tourist beaches, and new communities. The result is severe erosion of beaches and excessive sedimentation. Entire benthic habitats such as seagrass beds are destroyed, while corals and other marine invertebrates - particularly delicate filter feeders - are killed.
Recent studies have found that 34 per cent of the world's coasts are at high risk of degradation from coastal development and another 17 per cent are at medium risk. The most threatened regions are Europe with 86 per cent and Asia with 69 per cent of their coastal ecosystems at risk.
According to the World Bank, human impacts on coasts and oceans have destroyed 20 per cent of mangroves, 30 per cent of sea grass beds and 20 per cent of coral reefs.
In the Wider Caribbean, one of the Regional Seas where tourism is a mainstay of the economy, the Caribbean Environment Network (CEN) Project was implemented by the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) as a joint venture with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The goal of the project was to improve environmental quality and coastal and marine natural resource protection by promoting the use of environmentally sound practices by the tourism industry.
In addition, The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) has been working with partners to develop an integrated strategy for sustainable tourism for Samoa, along with a set of indicators for monitoring the country's progress.