Maritime Spatial Planning

Published: 21-06-2017

The European Commission publishes NIRAS final report on Cross-border Cooperation in Maritime Spatial Planning

The EU Executive Agency for Small-and Medium-size Enterprises (EASME) on behalf of DG MARE has just published the final and case-study summary reports of the NIRAS-led "Study on international best practices for cross-border maritime spatial planning".

MSP has growing support from many sectors, from policy makers to academia, as a way to optimise the opportunities for marine development whilst delivering ecosystem based marine resource management. However, as examples of implementation are still relatively recent, MSP still lacks a sufficient evidence base to demonstrate its benefits.

The findings and recommendations of this Study aim to assist the European Commission and Member States in the implementation of the MSP Directive through the identification of good practices, with a particular focus on cross-border cooperation  and to elaborate recommendations that can support the promotion and exchange of MSP at the international level. ,

This study has centred its work on four main objectives or phases:

  1. Review of existing guidance and MSP processes, and compilation of a detailed inventory of MSP implementation outside the EU including approaches to cross-border cooperation
  2. In-depth comparative analysis of four case studies of MSP implementation
  3. Formulation of recommendations on the international exchange of MSP, including recommendations on the application of MSP in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)
  4. Presentation of preliminary findings at the DG MARE –UNESCO 2nd International MSP Conference (March 2017, Paris), partly coordinated and supported by the Study team.

This is the culmination of close to two years of work by NIRAS and partners, including UNEP-WCMC and the World Maritime University, and regional support from the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center (URI-CRC), Xiamen University, the Southern Atlantic Environmental Research Institute and The Nature Conservancy. Expert advice was also provided by Dominique Benzaken (Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation, Seychelles), Stephen Olsen (former Director at URI-CRC) and Erik Molenaar (Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS).

NIRAS was responsible for managing the Study and leading the development of the Study’s analytical framework allowing it to compare different MSP process and assess the effectiveness of their practices in a consistent manner.

All reports can be accessed here.

NIRAS can support MSP processes through:

  • Compilation, management, analysis and assessment of marine spatial data
  • Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Support / facilitation of stakeholder engagement and negotiations
  • Capacity development for governments, institutions and stakeholders
  • Development and implementation of evaluation frameworks for MSP

For further information please contact:

Sara Méndez Roldán, Environmental Consultant

T +44 (0)1223803735| E

For more information on NIRAS please see our website:    


Contact info

Tim NormanManaging DirectorCambridgeT: +44 1223 803750E: Send E-mail
Further contact info
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