Lessons Learned: Obstacles and Enablers when Tackling the Challenges of Cross-Border Maritime Spatial Planning


The report outlines the main lessons learned from Baltic SCOPE, identifying what worked well and what was less successful in the transnational MSP approaches adopted during the project.

Sea Basin(s): 
Application in MSP: 
Applied in a related process
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Cross-border cooperation
Ecosystem-based approach
Sea-basin cooperation
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What are processes or acts which can inhibit the emergence and development of trans-boundary MSP (i.e. obstacles)?
  • What are processes or acts that can facilitate the emergence and development of trans-boundary MSP (i.e. enablers)?


Implementation Context

The report was developed at the conclusion of the Baltic SCOPE project to document the main obstacles and enablers in the development of effective transnational MSP processes. It covers both project case studies, Southwest Baltic and Central Baltic, in a cross-case approach.



Aspects / Objectives

Obstacles and enablers were considered with respect to four dimensions:

  • coordination and collaboration among partner organizations
  • stakeholder mobilization and engagement
  • cross-sectoral synergies and integration
  • marine specificities and jurisdictional boundaries



Analysis was based primarily on participant observation conducted by Nordregio’s research team, who conducted observations of planners and their activities during the course of the project. This was also supplemented with a Lessons Learned survey and focus group interview with planners to capture their perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the approaches adopted. Workshop sessions were also conducted at two conferences to share project results thus far and collect further input from people outside the project. The team was also involved in production of the final case reports, which provided further material. While some challenges and enablers were the same in both case study areas, distinctions between the two cases were noted.

Main Outputs / Results

The report describes the main and most important lessons learned from the project and provides recommendations and concrete ideas about tools and approaches. Results are organized according to the four dimensions listed above. The following is a list of the main enablers and obstacles relevant to the project as a whole. Further information about each, as well as obstacles and enablers for each case study, is provided in the report.


Coordination and Collaboration


  • Establishing a framework for deliberation
  • Individual Learning
  • The Case Study Approach: Working Area- and Problem Specifically
  • Institutional and Organisational Learning at National Level
  • Increased Coordination and Construction of Stronger Links between National Authorities Across Boundaries

Obstacles & challenges:

  • Language Barriers and Different Interpretations
  • Different Countries at Different Stages of the MSP Process
  • Institutional Reorganisation and Change of Project Partners
  • Need for continuity: short projects instead of more permanent collaboration


Maritime Specificities and Jurisdictional Boundaries


  • Increased understanding of national MSP specificities through Baltic SCOPE
  • The exchange of national level information and data
  • The production of common maps
  • The Matrix of Interests
  • Ecosystem-based approach Task Force and Checklists
  • Final case reports and project recommendations
  • An overall enabler: The emergence of a pan-Baltic approach to transboundary collaboration in MSP

Obstacles & challenges:

  • Planning as a multi-level governance process
  • Nested and Overlapping Governance and Regulatory Systems
  • Different national priorities and competing interests
  • Fragmentation of knowledge and differences in national data collection and regulation of data management
  • Timing: MSP at different stages in different countries


Cross-Sectoral Integration and Synergies


  • Development of Common Data and Maps
  • Topic Papers as Knowledge Base
  • Conflicts and Synergies Tables For Cross Sector Analysis of Interactions
  • Building Synergies between Sectors


  • Availability and Quality of Relevant Planning Evidence on Sectors and Countries
  • Competing Sectoral Interests
  • Different levels of Sectoral Relevance and Influence
  • Varying Intensity of Sectoral Engagement Underrepresentation of Certain Sectors


Stakeholder Participation and Engagement


  • Engagement of National-Level Stakeholders
  • Most Relevant Sectors were Involved
  • Stakeholder Mobilization Tools
  • The Interactive Role of Stakeholders in the Identification of Synergies, Conflicts and Solutions
  • Ministerial / official invitation


  • Different MSP Governance Systems and Understanding of Stakeholder Engagement
  • Lack of Time and Resources (of both planners and participants)
  • Different Stages of MSP (affecting stakeholder mobilisation and motivation)
  • Stakeholder’s Understanding of their Roles in MSP (affecting stakeholder motivation)
  • Regional and Local Level Involvement
  • Broader Involvement of Political Decision Makers – A Coming Challenge
  • Citizen Involvement – A Coming Challenge


The report also includes best practices for future transboundary MSP processes and how they can improve, as well as future challenges for transboundary MSP.



The lessons learned from Baltic SCOPE can be considered in other macro-regional MSP processes to not only implement useful tools and strategies, but also to avoid repeating less successful approaches in other contexts. Tools and best practices from Baltic SCOPE should be applied as appropriate given individual sea-basin contexts.

Responsible Entity

Nordregio, as the lead author for this report prepared as part of the Baltic SCOPE project (lead partner: Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management)


Costs / Funding Source

Funding Source: the report was developed within the BalticSCOPE project, funded by EMFF.


Costs: not possible to be defined, as part of the overall funds to BalticSCOPE project.



Contact person(s)

Michael Kull, John Moodie, Alberto Giacometti, Andrea Morf - Nordregio