Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Too Much, Too Little: Cabrera's Organisation

When the Cabrera National Park was declared in 1991, a trust was established in line with national law. The trust exists to guarantee the integrity of the park, which consists also of the smaller Conills island and a series of islets as well as the surrounding sea. The president of the trust is appointed by the national government, with the environment and fisheries ministry making the proposal. There are representatives from national ministries other than environment. The development ministry is involved through transport, communications and public works. The education ministry has a role, so does tourism. And then there is the ministry of defence. Cabrera has belonged to it since 1916.

Also on the trust are three representatives of the Balearic government, one apiece from the Council of Mallorca, Palma town hall, the University of the Balearic Islands, the fishermen's brotherhood and the national institute of oceanography. There are two more - both from conservation associations.

This trust, with its diverse representation, is to be presented with a damning report from analysts. It is based on a simple technique - a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. From what has been so far revealed of this report, there is a great deal to do with the weaknesses. Together they generate key threats - the risk posed to the park's reputation and its entire marine area.

There will be those shifting uneasily in their chairs when this report hits the table for discussion. The trust may not have operational responsibility, but it does oversee the organisation. The main question from the revealing of all the weaknesses is: what organisation? And from this stems further questions regarding efficiency and effectiveness of management, cooperation and coordination, lines of communication and centres for decision-making.

The analysis has highlighted a total mess of organisational structure, and that is because the structure is, like the trust, diverse. Its component parts comprise: the regional government, which through the environment ministry has overall responsibility for the park; government agencies and companies; Palma town hall. On top of these there is the ministry of defence, because it owns Cabrera, and Ses Salines town hall.

Administratively, Cabrera belongs to Palma. Despite the distance, it is classified as falling under the Palma municipality. Yet, let's consider what happened in February this year when the regional environment minister, Vicenç Vidal, made an announcement at the Cabrera information centre. The institute for natural areas (Ibanat), which is one of the government's agencies active in the park, was to invest just over 225,000 euros for certain infrastructure improvements. Who was to receive this money? Palma? Yes, but only some 130,000 euros. The rest was going to Ses Salines.

This division of investment made some sense in that Ses Salines was to receive aid for information signage, a cycle park and the tarmacking of a rural road: Colonia Sant Jordi is the main port that serves Cabrera. Well, it made some sense, but then it also made very little. Which is essentially the thrust of the report. There are simply too many administrations involved with Cabrera. The organisation is such that no one seems to be clear who does what or why. And when it comes to the provision of money, the budget has declined markedly since the regional government assumed control of the park some five years ago.

The report's findings hint at Cabrera being symptomatic of organisational confusion, inefficiency and ineffectiveness that affect Mallorca's coastal areas. They may not specifically be noted in the organisation or the trust, but there are yet further administrations who have their say, such as the national Costas Authority and the regional Ports Illes Balears (Colonia Sant Jordi's port is under its control).

How often do we hear of issues that stem from the involvement of all these different bodies? Cala Varques in Manacor has been a classic example, and there the Guardia Civil and National Police are adding to a mix of regional government, Council of Mallorca, town hall and Costas. There are other cases. Take Alcudia, for instance. Depending on which part of the municipality one is talking about, the town hall is involved with - and usually at loggerheads with - the Balearic Ports Authority and the Costas Authority. But then it also has to deal with the Council of Mallorca (main roads), Ports Illes Balears for its small ports of Barcares and Bonaire, the regional government, e.g. with the laying of electricity cables, and both the government and the Council of Mallorca when it comes to decisions regarding land use.

The upshot of all this is that it can be and has been that nothing gets done, while there are inbuilt mechanisms for conflict. And Cabrera appears to be one of the worst cases. A national park and an apparent symbol of everything environmentally righteous in the Balearics, and it is failed by the disorganisation created by too many organisations.

No comments: