In a declaration published on 2 February 2021, the Member States of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) highlighted the role of Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning in strengthening dialogue and cooperation towards a Sustainable Blue Economy in the Mediterranean region.
The UfM Ministerial Declaration on Sustainable Blue Economy calls for “maximizing regional coordination, partnerships, opportunities for cooperation and pooling of resources” in various Blue Economy sectors while addressing the growing environmental and climate-related challenges that the region is facing, and tackling the unprecedented socio-economic crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has generated.
Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning, as the public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives, is formally recognized as a key lever of Blue Economy strategies, in addition to the activities led by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO in that respect:
- “Highlighting the increasing competition for the use of marine and coastal space and resources in the Mediterranean and the need for increased effort to control and minimize the impacts associated with the expansion of activities in coastal areas and at sea while increasing the coverage of Marine Protected Areas;
- Ministers recognise that tools such as ecosystem-based Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) are important to enable the development of sustainable blue economy sectors and activities, attract investment, and reduce impacts on the environment;
- Ministers underline the importance of preserving and enhancing ecosystems, including vulnerable marine ecosystems notably through well-connected and effectively managed marine and coastal protected areas and highlight the importance of preserving the connection with inland wetlands in line with the recommendations adopted under the RAMSAR convention;
- Ministers take note of the progressive use as governance tool of ICZM and MSP since the adoption of the 2015 UfM Ministerial Declaration on Blue Economy, welcome the work of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO on Maritime Spatial Planning in the western Mediterranean and invite all UfM member countries to further use Maritime Spatial Planning in support of the development of the sustainable blue economy in the Mediterranean, including by addressing Land-Sea Interactions, as appropriate;
- Ministers commend UfM Member Countries that developed ICZM national strategies and call for their further development and update, when necessary, through the provision of adequate financial and technical support;
- Ministers welcome the adoption by the Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention, in last December 2019, of the Common Regional Framework for ICZM, as a guiding document to facilitate the implementation, in the Mediterranean, of the ICZM Protocol;
- Ministers recognize the crucial role played by national and local authorities, in MSP and ICZM and call for their further involvement and coordination as appropriate.”
This Ministerial Declaration, along with the institutional partnership between IOC-UNESCO, UfM, WestMED Initiative and all Member States of the region, brings fresh momentum to the efforts of the MSPglobal Initiative in defining a roadmap for transboundary MSP and Sustainable Blue Economy in the West Mediterranean.
MSPglobal pilot project in the West Mediterranean