How the sustainable use of marine space can boost the Blue Economy in Colombia

On the heels of a training course in Panama, activities for the MSPglobal pilot project in the Southeast Pacific continued with a national event organized between 1 and 3 October 2019 in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) to increase national representatives’ understanding of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and Sustainable Blue Economy.

Attended by 35 participants from various authorities and institutions in charge of the planning and management of marine resources, the training contributed to develop their technical and institutional capacities.

Theoretical sessions covered topics such as the current situation of the national marine and coastal zones, an introduction to the MSPglobal Initiative, the concepts of MSP – including the IOC-UNESCO step-by-step approach and advances in the National Ocean Policy – and Sustainable Blue Economy, as well as stakeholder participation and data and information in MSP.

Lina María Olano, from the Colombian Ocean Commission, presented the National Policy for the Ocean and Coastal Spaces, which aims to strengthen the national ocean governance as a way towards MSP. In addition, Fernando Afanador Franco presented studies on conflicts and compatibilities between maritime sectors, under development by the General Maritime Directorate. This study includes a pilot case in the Caribbean and another in the Pacific coast of Colombia. The Caribbean coast has a higher concentration of activities while the Pacific coast is characterized by a higher percentage of rural communities.

Participants were then divided into three groups to play the MSP Challenge game, representing planners and different maritime sectors. Putting theory into practice, they were asked to define the three fictitious countries’ vision, objectives, indicators, actions, stakeholders and risks for short and long-term to simulate an MSP process.

Each participant then developed individually his or her respective sectorial plans, with current and future conditions, before engaging negotiations with the rest of the players to develop an integrated plan coherent with the national vision and objectives. An additional exercise allowed the planners of three countries to define EEZ boundaries and discuss transboundary coherence between MSP plans placed within the same sea basin.

For Luisa Fernanda Rueda Rojas, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the discussions with sectoral representatives during the game were an opportunity to better understand the work of each sector and what they are doing about MSP.

National experts from Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Land Agency, National Infrastructure Agency and General Maritime Directorate took part in a panel discussion to present how their institution’s activities are compatible with the sustainable use of marine space, before answering questions from participants.

Leonardo Marriaga Rocha (General Maritime Directorate) highlighted the role of ocean science in producing knowledge that is useful to all sectors.

The course was co-organized by IOC-UNESCO (including the IOC Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions, IOCARIBE), the General Maritime Directorate (DIMAR) and the Colombian Ocean Commission (CCO). It will contribute to the development of a regional roadmap for transboundary MSP and Sustainable Blue Economy in the Southeast Pacific.

Session 1: Welcome
 Session 2: Introduction to MSP
Session 3: Stakeholder participation
Session 4: Presentation of the MSP Challenge
Session 5: Presentation of Colombia’s National Ocean Policy
Session 6: Data and information

  MSPglobal pilot project in the Southeast Pacific


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