Selected challenges in the evaluation of marine spatial planning

2013 EEEN Forum

Goncalo Carneiro: World Maritime University, Malmo, Sweden


Marine spatial planning (MSP) has been promoted over the last decade as the recommended process for ordering increasingly diverse claims over limited maritime space. It has been endorsed by several countries as a complement to other integrated marine management interventions with the dual aim of fostering the maritime economy and protecting marine ecosystems. MSP is envisioned as an adaptive process with monitoring and evaluation as essential steps for generating and transmitting performance information between subsequent planning cycles.

This contribution discusses specific issues that need to be confronted when evaluating MSP. It starts by touching upon criteria and approaches to the evaluation of planning processes and plan contents. Quality elements in planning are briefly reviewed and their usefulness as evaluation criteria is discussed. Emphasis then turns to the challenges of evaluating plan implementation, its direct outputs and especially plan outcomes. Concepts of plan performance and conformance are reviewed with respect to the role assigned to marine spatial plans, as are methods used in these two approaches to planning evaluation. Options are considered relative to designs for evaluating outcomes of MSP, highlighting the particular challenges in attributing causality of observed environmental changes to spatially-defined planning measures.

A reflection on priority research domains within evaluation of MSP closes this contribution.


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