As coastal and marine areas become an increasingly attractive and competitive space for a diversity of stakeholders, Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has emerged as an important tool to enable better coordination among sectors. In this context, the Sustainable Ocean Business Action Platform of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), with the support of the MSPglobal Initiative, has launched a series of targeted sprints to address the challenges associated with long-term MSP for offshore renewables.
It is widely recognized that the broad-scale development of offshore renewable energy will play a key role in reducing the emissions needed to meet the decarbonization goals of the Paris Agreement as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Governments are subsequently being called on to ramp up their offshore renewable energy ambitions.
In the framework of the Joint Roadmap to accelerate MSP processes worldwide, and in collaboration with the UNGC, four sprints are taking place in March 2021 to present methods, tools, case studies and best practices for successful integration of offshore renewable energy in MSP stakeholder engagement processes:
- Sprint 1 – Effective knowledge-sharing between policy-science-industry-civil society: the essential foundation for successful MSP: a well-functioning information and knowledge channel between policy-science-industry-civil society is critical for an integrated ocean management approach to MSP – yet communication and effective knowledge-sharing is still often fraught with challenges;
- Sprint 2 – Cross-sectoral private sector engagement for successful and safe ocean multi-use approaches: the demand for ocean space is rising with established users (e.g., fishing, tourism, shipping) while new users (e.g., offshore renewables, offshore aquaculture, seaweed) are rapidly increasing, therefore creating conflicts. Effectively engaging with ocean multi-users is a critical lever for the successful and safer integration of offshore renewables into MSP processes;
- Sprint 3 – Social acceptability and effective engagement with academia, environmental stakeholders and civil society: science-based, transparent, inclusive and effective communication with academia, conservation stakeholders and civil society provides assurance that production from the ocean will go hand in hand with the protection of marine environments and livelihoods;
- Sprint 4 – Governments, public-private cooperation and the development of MSP: presentation of different engagement models and organization for MSP around the world, challenges of cross-sectoral and ministerial planning and associated regulating authorities, as well as respective challenges and benefits of long-term versus short-term planning.
The recommendations to come out of these events will feed into the international MSP guidance under preparation by MSPglobal.