Participatory mapping as a creative solution for Marine Spatial Planning

On 16 April 2020, 99 participants joined the MSPglobal online thematic seminar on “Participatory mapping as a creative solution for Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)”.

The event, intended for Portuguese speakers, provided an opportunity to share experiences on MSP and participatory mapping, facilitate discussion on the topic and identify challenges and potential solutions.

Michele Quesada da Silva, coordinator of the MSPglobal pilot project in the Southeast Pacific and member of the MSPglobal Expert Group, launched the seminar with a presentation on stakeholder participation within the MSP process. She highlighted that participatory mapping is a means to complement existing scientific information and official databases with the knowledge of the different actors, in order to map current conditions and create future scenarios.

Two speakers, Helena Calado (from Portugal) and Dannieli Firme Herbst (from Brazil), presented the experiences of the projects “Macaronesian Maritime Spatial Planning – MarSP” and “Babitonga Ativa”, respectively. Some of the key messages shared by them were:

  • Be transparent about the objectives of the MSP initiative with the stakeholders;
  • Structure stakeholder participation and ask them for feedback about the engagement process;
  • The results of MSP projects can be the basis for governmental discussions on the development and implementation of the official MSP process, with implementation being one of the most challenging steps in the process;
  • MSP projects are a way to increase stakeholders’ willingness to engage in MSP processes;
  • Some of the key skills that are important for an MSP team to have are: data analysis, social skills to engage stakeholders, and economic analysis of trade-offs (although, for the latter, one of the speakers recognized that it was difficult to find qualified professionals).

Sharing these successful experiences from both countries gave participants a better grasp of participative tools and methodologies – with their pros and cons – and more generally improved understanding of stakeholder engagement and its benefits. This new knowledge will prove useful if they find themselves in a situation where a lack of data is impeding the MSP process.

The online seminar ensured the full engagement of the participants throughout the session through polls and questions using a digital platform. Furthermore, a forty-minute discussion session allowed attendees to ask more targeted questions to the invited experts in real time.

Among almost 30 questions, the audience was mainly interested in knowing how to validate the data obtained during the participatory mapping, and what were the challenges in analyzing the trade-offs between human activities.

While a majority of participants joined from Brazil and Portugal, others from Cape Verde, Colombia, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom and Uruguay attended as well.

The next MSPglobal online activity (bilingual Spanish/Portuguese) will take place on 22 April and address “Gender and Marine Policies”.

Participatory mapping as a creative solution for MSP
Poll results