During recent years, marine spatial planning has been the focus of considerable interest throughout the world, particularly in heavily used marine areas. Numerous attempts have been made to define the scope and nature of marine spatial planning, but few have discussed how to put it into practice. Due to this demand, UNESCO published “Step-by-Step Approach for Marine Spatial Planning toward Ecosystem-based Management”. The guide uses a clear, straightforward step-by-step approach to show how marine spatial planning can be set up and applied toward achieving ecosystem-based management. Most steps are illustrated with relevant examples from the real world.
During recent years, marine spatial planning has been the focus of considerable interest throughout the world, particularly in heavily used marine areas. Marine spatial planning offers countries a strategy to maintain the value of their biodiversity while at the same time allowing sustainable use of the economic potential of their oceans. Marine spatial planning is a practical way to achieve ecosystem-based management in marine areas.
Numerous attempts have been made to define both the scope and nature of marine spatial planning. Relatively few initiative discuss how to put it into practice. This guide aims at answering questions about how to make marine spatial planning operational.
The guide uses a clear, straightforward step-by-step approach that shows how marine spatial planning can be developed and implemented. Most steps are illustrated with relevant examples from the real world. Throughout the text references are made to other resources and further readings.
The guide is primarily intended for professionals responsible for the management (including planning) of marine areas and their resources. Most professionals responsible for the management of marine areas and their resources have strong scientific or technical backgrounds in areas such as ecology, biology, oceanography, or engineering. Few have been trained as professional planners or managers. Many new marine managers wind up "learning on the job" - a sometimes effective, but often expensive, way of doing business.
The guide attempts to fill this gap by using a step-by-step approach for developing and implementing marine spatial planning. It gives an understanding of the different tasks, skills and expertise needed to develop and maintain marine spatial planning efforts. It also discusses issues such as obtaining financial resources, organizing stakeholders, or monitoring and evaluating performance. These are important, albeit often neglected, steps of the marine spatial planning process.
How the MSP Guide was developed
The guide “Marine spatial planning: A step-by-step approach toward ecosystem-based management” was developed between November 2007 and May 2009. The proposed steps of the guide were based on real world practices with MSP from around the globe. Draft texts of the guide were reviewed during three review meetings and fine-tuned in two places (Massachusetts and Viet Nam).
Analysis of good MSP practice
The steps proposed in the guide are largely based on the analysis of marine spatial planning initiatives from around the world. Ten international examples of marine spatial planning, at different stages of development, were analyzed and documented.
This work provided fundamental information about what has worked and what not when developing and implementing MSP.
Refining the guide through two “fine-tuning phases”
The main purpose of the fine-tuning phase was to make sure that the proposed steps in the guide are clear, logical, and practical enough to be useful for the main target group, e.g., decision makers and marine planners around the world. The fine-tuning phase consisted of face-to-face meetings with resource managers and decision makers (and their planning team) during which the different sections of the guide were discussed and evaluated on their clarity, practicality, and applicability. One fine-tuning phase was conducted in a developed country, another in a developed country.
The first fine-tuning meeting was held in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States of America, in October 2008. Massachusetts had just passed a State Oceans Act requiring the development of an integrated management plan for its marine waters by the end of 2009.
A second fine-tuning meeting was held in two locations, Ha Noi and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, in April 2009. Viet Nam had just established the Vietnamese Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI), a government agency responsible for sea use management and marine spatial planning. Ha Noi and Ha Long Bay were chosen because of the numerous threats that are posed to the conservation of the area, and the variety of human uses taking place in the area. The Vietnamese government has identified long-term conservation and sustainable management of the seas and islands and other coastal ecosystems as one of the top priorities.
Reviewing the guide through expert meetings
Three review meetings were held in 2008-09 with marine scientists and managers at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, France.
Participants in these meetings included Jeff Ardron, Jon Day, Paul Gilliland, Jihyun Lee, Patrick McConney, Leslie-Ann McGee, Chu Hoi Nguyen, Elliott Norse, Eric Olsen, Robert Pomeroy, Kery Turner, Bernadette O’Neil, An Vanhullen, Ole Vestegaard, and Leo de Vrees. Comments and suggestions were also sought from other experts around the world. Meg Caldwell, Sarah Chasis, Glen Herbert, Richard Kenchington, Deerin Babb-Brott, and Nico Nolte reviewed and contributed to the final text of the guide.