MSPglobal kicks off the second phase with a sweeping online conference

On 6 September 2023, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) held the MSPglobal 2.0 Online Kick-off Conference. The event was attended by about 500 unique viewers from 92 countries (on all continents).

The event was moderated by Vinicius Lindoso, IOC Communications Officer, and aimed to present the key topics and upcoming activities of the project’s second phase which will last until December 2024.

In their opening remarks, Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC-UNESCO Executive Secretary, and Delilah Al Khudhairy, Director for Maritime Policy and Blue Economy (DG MARE) highlighted the strong collaboration between the two institutions which resulted in a successful first phase of the project that reached 5000 stakeholders from over 140 countries through several in-person and online activities. They underlined that the second phase will focus on implementing several actions outlined in the Updated Joint MSProadmap to further contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially to SDG 14 Life below water and its target 14.2 to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems. Then, the MSPglobal 2.0 Project Coordinator Michele Quesada da Silva presented the main objectives and planned activities of the second phase and emphasized that MSPglobal 2.0 is looking for synergies with other initiatives to build knowledge and collaboration.

The conference was divided into four sessions in which representatives from international and governmental agencies, as well as the scientific community and civil society gave keynotes and contributed in panel discussions to some of the key focus areas of MSPglobal 2.0: SDG 14.2, data value chain from ocean observation to knowledge-based MSP, national and transboundary MSP in the Gulf of Guinea and the Western Pacific, the engagement of Indigenous Peoples and the adoption of a gender-sensitive approach into MSP.

In the session about SDG 14, Julian Barbière (IOC-UNESCO), Felix Leinemann (DG MARE), Ole Vestergaard (UNEP), and Helena Rodrigues (WWF) discussed the relevance of MSP to achieve target 14.2 as well as key aspects and challenges related to monitoring MSP effectiveness. Then, Joe Appiott (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity) delivered a video message about the link between SGD 14, MSP and target 1 of the Global Biodiversity Framework regarding biodiversity inclusive spatial planning.

The data session started with a keynote presentation by Andrej Abramić (co-chair of the EU Technical Expert Group on data for MSP) about a recently developed Maritime Spatial Planning  data Framework (MSPdF). In the following panel discussion, Louis Demargne, IOC Data & Knowledge Management Officer (UN Ocean Decade Data Groups), highlighted that the Ocean Decade is currently designing action plans to develop inclusive, interoperable ocean data and information ecosystems. Thereby he emphasized the importance of engaging with users at the very beginning of an MSP project in order to understand the data needs and where to find the baseline datasets. Representatives of other data initiatives also joined the panel. Nadia Pinardi talked about GOOS CoastPredict, and Lotta Fyrberg mentioned the data initiatives led by IOC’s International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE).

Regarding the development of MSP pilots by MSPglobal 2.0, Yacoub Issola, Expert in Integrated Coastal and Marine Zones Management from the Abidjan Convention Secretariat, explained how they would like to build on previous and existing initiatives such as MAMI WATA project and the West Africa Coastal Resilience Programme to pilot transboundary MSP projects between Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin Regarding the Western Pacific, Zhiwei Zhang (MSP Officer at IOC’s Sub Commission WESTPAC) explained that MSPglobal 2.0 will support the kick-off of activities linked to the Ocean Decade Action Accelerate Marine Spatial Planning in the Western Pacific and its Adjacent Areas. The MSPglobal National Focal Points of Ghana (Felix Addo-Yobo, Deputy Director and Advisor of the SDGs Advisory Unit at Office of the President) and Thailand (Suree Satapoomin, Marine Resources Management Specialist at the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources) also joined the panel to bring their perspectives about how MSPglobal 2.0 can support existing national efforts.

Lastly, another highlight worth mentioning was the input given by Zhen Sun (World Maritime University), who emphasized that MSP should be a process to address gender issues and underrepresentation by women in decision-making processes. To that effect, she gave a series of recommendations, such as including a gender sensitive assessment in MSP, engaging women and underrepresented groups in discussions, understanding systemic barriers, and providing specific capacity development. The session also included an inspiring presentation by Sarah Singh (Guyana Marine Conservation Society) about her experience and recommendations on the engagement of Indigenous Peoples in the management of mangroves.

The conference was concluded by Laura Stočkute (DG MARE) and Michele Quesada, who thanked all speakers for their collective passion, dedication, and the sharing of knowledge about MSP. They also observed that the lively discussions took part beyond the panels, reaching into the online chat where many shared their experiences during the conference. This shows incredible commitment and potential for positive change and momentum for Marine Spatial Planning today.

Click here to download the full presentation of the conference.

You can also watch the full recordings in EN/FR/ES on our YouTube channel.

The full report of the conference is under development and will be available here soon.


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