India and Sri Lanka, two geographically proximate countries, exhibit a high proportion of South Asia’s production landscapes and seascapes and share many socio-ecological similarities. The heterogeneity of such Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes (SEPLS) ranges from river deltas, rice paddies, lagoons, pools, and lakes to coral reefs, mangroves, and aquaculture fields, all of which support numerous livelihoods and hundreds of economically significant species.


Historically, such SEPLS are used for food and agricultural production in a regenerative manner giving rise to diverse cultures, livelihoods and food systems in both countries. Unfortunately, the SEPLS are undergoing rapid homogenization and degradation, leading to an unprecedented decline in food production, biodiversity, and ecosystem services, especially the coral reefs and seagrass beds in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay region. The region continues to be influenced by the prevalent and predicted changing hydrological and climatic conditions. Consequently, the livelihoods of both countries’ SEPLS communities are impacted, and the global availability of healthy food supply is threatened (Details given in Annexure).


The alarming trend in degeneration and homogenization of the SEPLS persists despite numerous global, national, and subnational efforts aimed at the sustainability of the production areas. The South Asia Seas Program which takes place since 1982 under the aegis of the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme, an inter-governmental agency for all eight South Asian countries is an example. The primary reason for the failure is the lack of strategic inclusive, and innovative actions in bringing science, strategies and skills to create sustainable livelihoods.


The project aims at the sustained transformation in the management of SEPLS of Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar by creating a coordinated and closely monitored portfolio that is built upon modern and traditional knowledge rigour and people-to-people engagements. The primary objective is to strengthen the joint management of SEPLS between the two countries through active involvement of the critical actors from the 5 “P” areas, Production sector, Partnership platforms, Promotion and public outreach, Policymaking system and Political podiums A scanning and services workshop series (two national and one global) will be the pathway to achieve this objective.


  • The primary outcome will be a committed coordinated Action Plan for improved production and resilience of SEPLS of the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay. Following are the subsidiary outcomes.
  • Conflict-reduced involvement of smallholder producer communities, such as both countries’ fishers,  and forest dwellers, who play a crucial role in sustaining SEPLS productivity.
  • A comprehensive Charter for Seascape and nearshore Landscape management for the region, detailing the gaps and challenges in the smooth operation of SEPLS..


Necessary steps to organize a regional Platform of the 5 P actors. The Platform will have first-gear members of empowered Producers, encompassing fishers, mangrove dwellers, and other local producers. The second gear of Partners includes NGOs, research institutions, private enterprises, and other collaborating entities. The third gear, Promoters of principles and practices of sustainable development comprises individuals, organizations, and agencies. The fourth gear, Policy, is for the policymakers’ involvement to ensure strong programmatic support by developing and implementing effective policies, regulations, and frameworks. The fifth gear, Political will, addresses the commitment of governments at various levels to prioritize SEPLS’s sustainable development.


The interplay of these outcomes will result in enhanced regional project delivery mechanisms and improved regional SEPLS governance.

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