Study: What are the best practices for cross-border maritime spatial planning?

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Study maritime spatial planning

Over the last decade, an increasing number of countries have begun to design and implement maritime spatial plans  at various scales - be it local initiatives or transnational efforts. This has been trigged by new business opportunities in emerging maritime industries such as offshore windmills, the reversal of negative environmental trends and better coordination of sectors. The new study published by the European Commission presents the best cross-border cooperation practices.

In Europe, the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Directive is considered a step forward in the adoption of maritime spatial planning principles and good practices by EU Member States. The directive not only supports more efficient sustainable development of marine and coastal resources but also strengthens cross-border cooperation and therefore improves international ocean governance.

In order to support the implemenation of the directive, the European Commission has published a new study on internatioanl best practices for cross-border MSP.  It draws from a number of international case studies and it should help elaborate recommendations that can support the international promotion and exchange of MSP, relevant to the implementation of the EC International Ocean Governance Agenda.

The study focuses on 4 main deliverables:

  • The review of existing guidance and MSP processes, and compilation of a detailed inventory of MSP implementation outside the EU – the Global MSP Inventory;
  • An in-depth comparative analysis of four case studies of MSP implementation, including literature review, site visits and key informant interviews, that identifies lessons learned in MSP, and good practices in support of cross-border cooperation;
  • The formulation of recommendations on the international exchange of MSP, including recommendations on the application of MSP in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ);
  • The presentation of cross-border preliminary findings at the 2nd International MSP Conference (March 2017, Paris).

MSP is currently being developed in many marine areas of the world. Outside the EU, Australia, Canada, China or the USA have long been at the forefront of implementing MSP. The UN Environment MSP in Practice Database together with the IOC-UNESCO initiative on MSP have been the first attempts to compile MSP practices around the world.


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