From 8-10 November 2006, UNESCO held the first International Workshop on the use of marine spatial planning as a tool to implement ecosystem-based, sea use management.

The workshop was a cooperative initiative between UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) of the Ecological and Earth Sciences Division.

About 50 participants from over 20 countries attended because of their practical experience in sea use management, marine spatial planning, and ocean zoning.

The purpose of the workshop was to review and document the state-of-the-art and good practices of marine spatial planning through a series of thematic presentations and discussions on the various elements of the management process, e.g., authorization, research, planning, analysis, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, institutional arrangements, and capacity building.

  • Zoning is only one tool of marine spatial planning and sea use management. Actual applications will include a mix of control measures including regulatory and non-regulatory incentives, e.g., economic incentives and technical assistance;
  • Early and continuing engagement of stakeholders in a clear management process is critical to success and engenders trust and ownership of the marine spatial planning process;
  • Monitoring and evaluation are critical elements of the marine spatial planning process;
  • Integrating the human dimension into marine spatial planning requires the same diversity of disciplines and perspectives as does the ecosystem approach relative to the biophysical environment;
  • Comprehensive, spatially explicit data on ecosystem characteristics, human uses, and offshore jurisdictions are required. These data are not readily available for most marine areas, and can be expensive and time-consuming to collect; and
  • Decision-makers are unlikely to see the need for marine spatial planning until its benefits can be documented better.

The discussions and conclusions are further documented in the workshop report, Visions for a Sea Change, and conference summary in the Marine Policy journal.

Special Issue of Marine Policy journal on the role of marine spatial planning in ecosystem-based, sea use management was published in September 2008.