MSPforum, MSPglobal, MSProadmap

Promoting transboundary Marine Spatial Planning from the Iberian Peninsula

Building on existing synergies and collaboration between Spain and Portugal in the field of Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning, the MSPglobal Initiative hosted over 230 participants in the Iberian Peninsula to share expertise and best practices during week-long activities from 12 to 17 May 2019.

The International Forum for Marine Spatial Planning (MSPforum), established in 2017 by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO), kicked off its third edition on Sunday 12 May 2019 at the Abanca Foundation. The opening ceremony saw representatives of Spanish and Portuguese authorities highlighted the importance of cooperation in the context of transboundary MSP and sustainable blue economy.

“There is no way to do MSP and discuss blue economy without putting all stakeholders together; we need top-down policies, but the bottom-up approach brings the ideas to develop them,” declared Enrique César López Veiga, President of the Port Authority of Vigo, Spain.

With its long fishing and transportation history, Vigo is an example of coastal city where maritime activities have shaped economic development for centuries and marine spatial plans are especially relevant in support of sustainable blue economy strategies.

“Our past, our present and our future is linked to the sea,” said María José Caride, Councillor for Urban Planning at the City Council of Vigo.

“Vigo wants to represent the true European model of sustainable and socially inclusive regional development, linking it to blue growth,” added Rosa Quintana Carballo, Minister of the Sea of the Government of Galicia.

Between 13 and 15 May, the Port Authority of Vigo welcomed over 110 participants for the MSPforum activities. Three panels were organized to discuss pre-defined MSP topics, followed by a corresponding technical workshop to put into practice the lessons learned shared by the speakers:

  • Topic 1:
    • Panel: How to do a marine spatial plan
    • Technical workshop: Identifying good practices for MSP implementation at national and transboundary scale
  • Topic 2:
    • Panel: Data, information and tools for MSP
    • Technical workshop: Data, indicators and tools for MSP
  • Topic 3:
    • Panel: MSP transboundary synergies
    • Technical workshop: Recommendations to solve conflicts and cooperation

Following the successful implementation of stakeholder engagement activities during the 2nd MSPforum in Réunion Island, France, this 3rd edition also included a full day dedicated to visits of local businesses and institutions, creating a space for representatives of maritime sectors to complement the discussions. With the support of the Port Authority of Vigo, stakeholder visits were scheduled with 17 different groups, including fisheries, maritime transportation, research centers, coast guards, tourism and renewable energy.

Each group, some accompanied by an invited local stakeholder, reported their findings to all participants. The presentations focused on a description of the maritime sector/activity, the stakeholder group’s perspective about MSP and suggestions to improve the link between the visited sector and MSP. To improve interaction and dissemination, participants shared their experiences on Twitter throughout the day, with the #MSPforum and #MSPglobal hashtags.

From Spain to Portugal, MSPglobal took part in the European Maritime Day on 16-17 May in Lisbon, Portugal, organized by DG MARE. As the annual EU meeting point on maritime affairs and blue growth, EMD provides opportunities to exchange with strategic partners, make new contacts and get visibility for projects, activities and achievements. It targets maritime professionals, entrepreneurs and ocean leaders from businesses, governments, public institutions, NGOs and academia.

On Thursday 16 May, the workshop “MSPglobal – A Bottom Up Approach”, attended by nearly 150 participants, highlighted successful local and regional transboundary experiences in MSP in Europe and beyond in order to support the development of internationally accepted guidelines for MSP at global scale, as a support to the DG MARE and IOC-UNESCO Joint Roadmap to accelerate MSP processes worldwide.

“By making sure people are involved with the MSP process from the beginning, you create ownership of the plan and enthusiasm about the plan. That means that when comes the time to be implemented, people understand it, they have knowledge of it and they can use it more easily in their day-to-day work,” explained Tom Woolley, Marine Planning Advisor to the Irish Government’s Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Other panelists were Ana Paula Simão, Head of Environmental Monitoring Unit at the Directorate General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services, Portugal; Salvador Vega, Head of the Department of Ocean Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chile; and Ivana Lukić, Marine Policy and Planning Consultant at s.Pro – sustainable projects.

MSPglobal also enjoyed strong visibility over the two days at the IOC-UNESCO exhibition stand, with many participants stopping by to learn more about the Initiative and other activities related to ocean literacy and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

After Vigo, the MSPforum will dock in Riga, Latvia, in November 2019. The 2020 edition of EMD will be hosted by the city of Cork, Ireland.

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