A common and shared vision for the future for a sea area (be it at national or sea-basin wide scale) can have several advantages:
- Make clear why forward-looking thinking and a long term perspective is essential by showing how the sea may look like in the future if no action is undertaken
- On this basis, help to communicate the benefits of an MSP process and the potential to pro-actively ‘shape’ the future
- Provide an holistic cross-sectoral view on issues that are often regarded separately
- Facilitate stakeholder dialogue
- Help to achieve cross-sectoral and multi-level (and potentially transnational) cooperation among the different countries on marine and maritime issues. In order to serve their full function, the elaboration of a common and shared vision should actually involve a broad range of stakeholders and enough time for drafting, discussion and finalisation.
In distinction to a strategy with its several implementing steps, a vision refers to long-term approaches explaining why MSP should be used for the development of a sea area. It therefore defines clear ambitions that will determine the challenges for spatial planning in the run-up to a time 25 years ahead.
How to develop a vision for maritime space that can be effectively used in MSP?
The purpose of the 'Handbook for developing Visions in MSP', part of the 'Study on MSP and Blue Growth' is to assist planners in developing a maritime vision or a strategy, as well as assisting those who wish to prepare the terms of reference for facilitating a vision process. The handbook provides quick and easy access to relevant tools and methods, building on lessons learnt from vision development processes across Europe. It indicates a range of possibilities for working with visions, showcasing options and ideas, rather than being prescriptive.
The handbook follows a possible decision-making framework, first providing ideas on how some initial decisions can be made including what format, temporal scope, skills and resources could be used for developing a vision. The handbook also suggests concrete steps and elements needed to build a vision process, such as a stakeholder engagement strategy, analysis of future trends through forecasts and scenarios, or visualization and presentation techniques.
The PDF version allows users to skip through the handbook and read only the chapters relevant for them. It provides links between different tools explained in the handbook, as well as further reading material including other handbooks and useful examples.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there examples of macro-regional / maritime strategies and Action Plans providing input for a vision supporting the growth of maritime economy, environmental and social improvement?
There are certainly examples of such sea-basin maritime strategies and corresponding action plans that operate with a wide thematic approach and contribute the blue economy development. The Atlantic Ocean Maritime Strategy or the Adriatic and Ionian seas Strategies are both valid examples. Both strategies identify challenges and opportunities in the region and take stock of existing initiatives that can support growth and job creation.
The Atlantic Strategy and its corresponding Action Plan (launched in 2013) aim to revitalise the marine and maritime economy in the Atlantic Ocean area. It shows how the EU's Atlantic Member States, their regions and the Commission can help create sustainable growth in coastal regions and drive forward the "blue economy" while preserving the environmental and ecological stability of the Atlantic Ocean. By promoting cooperation, the Action Plan encourages Member States to work together in areas where they were previously working individually. They are now able to share information, costs, results and best practices, as well as generate ideas for further areas of cooperation of maritime activities. This includes both traditional activities, such as fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and shipping, as well as emerging ones such as offshore renewables and marine biotechnology.
The EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (established in 2014) mainly revolves around the opportunities of the maritime economy - 'blue growth', land-sea transport, energy connectivity, protecting the marine environment and promoting sustainable tourism – sectors that are bound to play a crucial role in creating jobs and boosting economic growth in the region.
Finally, and from a national perspective, Portugal’s National Ocean Strategy, contains an Action Plan aiming at the economic, social and environmental valorisation of the national maritime space through the implementation of sectoral and cross-sectoral projects.
How can research on potentials of sea and coastal areas be translated into a vision, which guides the development for the future planning of the sea?
Research is fundamental in order to develop a clear Intervention Logic for a possible initiative to be taken in order to address identified problems, with a clear focus on the added value for the relevant sub-sea basin. This research will have to convey aspects such as the definition of the problems or existing challenges, the underlying factors and root causes that underpin that problem or challenges or what is the actual scale of the issue at stake. The practice within the preparation of the Western Mediterranean Maritime initiative shows that, at the time of developing the vision, an overall framework has to be prepared.
At the heart of this framework lies the response capacity, defined as the ability of systems and structures in the Western Mediterranean (businesses, research organisations, authorities and the civil society at large) to fully address the range of challenges and opportunities posed by the regional and global context in which they operate. If such response is not efficient and effective, the outcomes and impacts of such response are expected to be unsustainable (e.g. socially, environmentally and/or economically) either in the short- or the mid/long-term. A key element in the response capacity is the extent to which the existing policy framework is providing effective and efficient regulation and incentives, for the system to function properly. This approach allows for the identification of possible gaps emerging in such support through time, which may require additional action.
Adding to this, the North Sea 2050 Spatial Agenda (Netherlands - MSP) constitutes a joint research report on the long term potential of sea and coastal areas, translated into a vision, series of ambitions, opportunities, points of action and maps.
Finally, the BaltSeaPlan Vision 2030 undertook an in-depth research on how MSP processes would impact upon the planning of the Baltic Sea by 2030, especially in relation to shipping, fishery, offshore energy and environmental planning. The principles and transnational topics identified in the vision have been leading guidelines for MSP processes throughout the Baltic Sea Region.
Are there examples of MSP sea-basin wide visions?
There are examples of sea-basin MSP visions related to spatial development of a given sea basin, such as the Baltic Sea Region Vision 2030, developed as part of the BaltSeaPlan project. In 2012 it received political acknowledgement through the Committee on Spatial Planning and Development of the Baltic Sea Region (VASAB 2010). The Irish Sea Maritime Forum also agreed on a vision guiding development of the Irish Sea. In 2013, it launched the Irish Sea Issues and Opportunities Report, intended to act as a position statement reflecting the concerns and priorities of Irish Sea stakeholders on a number of issues, as well as suggesting future directions for joint activities. Also, the DG MARE cross-border project ADRIPLAN developed a vision on how to proceed with MSP at a trans-boundary scale within the Adriatic Ionian Region (published in its final recommendations and conclusions). However, this publication has so far not received a formal political endorsement.
Such visions play a role in ensuring sea-basin coherence of MSP efforts. The visions provide an opportunity for discussing goals and priorities for spatial development of the given sea-basin and for identifying the MSP issues and tasks requiring joint co-operation of several countries. There are also several visions on the scope, content and the level of ambitions of the MSP process. They are different to the visions described above since they focus on the MSP process exclusively. For example, the Baltic Sea Broad-scale MSP principles have been agreed upon and the Regional Baltic MSP Road Map 2013-2020 was adopted. The TPEA project compiled a check-list of key issues necessary in the Atlantic sea-basin for a proper execution of trans-boundary MSP process in a Good Practice Guide.