Balancing sustainable use and conservation through Marine Spatial Planning

globe Use this map to explore the many countries around the world that are using Marine Spatial Planning to encourage compatible uses, reduce use conflicts, and balance sustainable use and marine conservation.

The IOC Marine Spatial Planning Programme

The Marine Spatial Planning Programme helps countries implement ecosystem-based management by finding space for biodiversity, conservation and sustainable economic development in marine areas. Marine Spatial Planning makes this possible by:

  • Developing a step-by-step approach for implementing marine spatial planning;
  • Documenting marine spatial planning initiatives around the world;
  • Identifying good practices of marine spatial planning;
  • Collecting references and literature on marine spatial planning;
  • Enhancing understanding about marine spatial planning through publications;
  • And building capacity through training marine spatial planning professionals

Why Marine Spatial Planning Matters

Demand for marine goods and services, such as food, energy, and habitats, usually exceed the capacity of marine areas to meet all of the demands simultaneously. In many cases, users have free access to marine resources, including space, that leads to excessive over use and eventual destruction of resources. Some public process must be used to decide what mix of outputs from the marine area should be produced over time and space. That process is marine spatial planning.

Marine spatial planning is a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives that have been specified through a political process.

UNESCO's "Step-by-step Approach for Marine Spatial Planning toward Ecosystem-based Management" offers a 10-step guide on how to get a marine spatial plan started in your region. Explore the guide by choosing steps here.

Download Guide
(PDF 1.5MB)