On 8 April 2020, 75 participants joined the first MSPglobal online thematic seminar on “Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and Climate Change”. This session kicked off a series of online events scheduled during the months of April and May in different languages at regional and global scales.
The event, intended for French speakers, provided an opportunity to discuss how global climate change will affect ocean uses and the established spatio-temporal distribution of human activities within marine and coastal areas; and better approaches for planning our changing ocean with a focus on coastal areas and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Moreover, the seminar was a platform to identify means of mainstreaming climate change adaptation strategies within marine spatial plans, and the obstacles towards these mainstreaming actions.
Firdaous Halim, MSPglobal Consultant, launched the event with a presentation on the MSP process, its needs and benefits for planning the marine space and the importance of considering climate change within the planning process. She highlighted: “the impacts of climate change (e.g. ocean warming and acidification, sea level rise) will alter current ocean conditions, leading to a redistribution of marine ecosystem goods and services.”
Consequently, ocean uses dependent on those services will suffer a spatio-temporal redistribution as well, increasing the risk of conflicts between maritime uses on the one hand and between maritime uses and the environment on the other hand; hence the importance of integrating climate change into the MSP process.
Anna Szegvari-Mas, “Océan Métiss” Project Coordinator at the Regional Council of Réunion Island (France), and Erwann Lagabrielle, lecturer at the University of Réunion Island (France), shared their experience on the establishment of the Marine Spatial Plan of the island in the Southwest Indian Ocean.
The island of La Réunion has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 300,000km2 and faces challenges such as natural hazards, changing water temperature, coastal erosion, variation in fish stocks and biodiversity, and shark attacks. Major traditional maritime activities in the region include fishing, aquaculture and coastal tourism, but new emerging activities with great economic potential could be developed, particularly in the framework of the Sustainable Blue Economy.
The online seminar ensured the full engagement of the participants throughout the session through polls and questions using the digital platform Slido. The participants proposed a number of solutions as how best to integrate climate change adaptation strategies into MSP, among which: stakeholder engagement, cross-sectoral coordination to avoid and resolve conflicts of use in the coastal zone, and the establishment of scenarios to anticipate long-term changes and to adapt current maritime policies. Furthermore, a forty-minute discussion session allowed attendees to ask more targeted questions to the invited experts in real time.
While a majority of participants joined from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and France, others from Cameroon, Gabon, Madagascar, Senegal, Spain, Ecuador, Brazil, Romania, Russia and Denmark attended as well.
The next MSPglobal thematic seminar in French will take place during the fourth week of April and address “Gender and Marine Policies”.