From 15 to 17 March 2017, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) and European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) organized jointly the 2nd International Conference on Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning (MSP). The main objective of the conference was to review the status of MSP – one decade after the first International MSP Conference – and to identify a path that addresses multiple global challenges from 2017 onwards.
The outcome went far beyond expectations, showcasing an international community of planners and stakeholders ready to identify solutions and commit to cross-sectoral actions to conserve our ocean and seas and use their resources in a more sustainable way. Exchanging experiences and networking, including through innovative tools such as gaming and cartooning, brought together 300 maritime players around the table and empowered them to promote the planning of the maritime space around the globe. Across eleven thematic sessions, conference speakers highlighted MSP as a significant planning tool and process to implement global ocean governance goals, and in particular the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It can ensure that the global ocean remains healthy and sustainably managed, delivering economic growth, jobs and resources to all countries.
The 2nd International Conference on MSP reflected the international momentum for a global boost in MSP implementation. Participants walked out with renewed appetite for joint initiatives and further cross-border collaboration, and the two co-organizers kicked-off a significant political commitment through their Joint Roadmap to accelerate Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning processes worldwide.
The Flanders Government of the Kingdom of Belgium
The Flanders Government of the Kingdom of Belgium and UNESCO have a long-standing cooperation in the field of science. Flanders is proud to contribute actively to IOC ocean science and capacity development activities. In this domain, Flanders has been hosting and supporting the IOC Project Office for International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) at the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) in Ostend since 2005. As an eminently maritime knowledge region which has contributed to the development and testing of the concept of marine spatial planning, Flanders seeks to benefit from its further advances.
A major global player in sustainable resource management, SUEZ is developing concrete solutions on all continents, allowing communities and industrialists to preserve the water resource, recycle and recover waste, thus helping to protect marine environments. SUEZ’s expertise and activities play a key role in fighting marine micro-and macro-pollutants, on the coasts and upstream of catchment basins: keeping plastic microfibers in wastewater treatment plants, sustainable management of ports and coasts, management of rainwater in urbanized zones, recycling and reuse of plastics, etc. Rising to the challenge of ocean protection requires all stakeholders to mobilize (political, economic and scientific actors, NGOs and citizens) and work together for greater awareness on all levels and for behavioral change.