An ocean of ambiguity in Northern European marine spatial planning policy designs.

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Abstract: 

Marine spatial planning (MSP) in Europe is in a paradigm shift as all (coastal) European countries now have established practices for the production of marine spatial plans. Though international guidelines and an EU directive for MSP provides policy frameworks, the formulation of national policy designs for MSP remains a national responsibility resulting in vastly different practices. Focusing on three Northern European countries; Denmark, Germany and Norway, this paper presents examples of how national policy designs for marine spatial planning are structured, and how the current practice in each country is influenced by local planning cultures. This mapping gives insights to a number of challenges facing planning authorities when planning for sustainable development. Ambiguity dominates the framework of marine spatial planning and the central sustainability concepts it contains. This paper gives voice to the planning teams, as they are key-players in generating meaning in this ocean of ambiguity, giving insights to their understanding of sustainability in the planning of futures for sustainable seas.

Sea Basin(s): 
Year: 
2020
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Sectors: 
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Cross-border cooperation
Type of practice: 
Study
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Develop and implement plan
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Yes
Coherence with other processes: 
Integrated Coastal Zone Management
Marine Strategy Framework Directive

QUESTIONS THIS PRACTICE MAY HELP ANSWER:

- How national policy designs for MSP are structured?

- How the current practice in three Northern European countries is influenced by local planning cultures?

IMPLEMENTATION CONTEXT:

The research is conducted in cooperation between researchers from the Danish Centre for Blue Governance and the Danish Centre for Environmental Assessment.

ASPECTS / OBJECTIVES:

To present examples of how national policy designs for marine spatial planning are structured, and how the current practice in each country is influenced by local planning cultures. 

METHOD:

The reserach is based on the extensive literature review. The authors apply theoretical framework to answer the research questions.

MAIN OUTPUTS / RESULTS:

  • The ambiguity of marine spatial planning (MSP) frameworks makes for heterogeneous MSP policy designs and practices.
  • The use of sustainability concepts in MSP policy designs is ambiguous and without guidance for implementation.
  • The understanding of sustainability is left to the planners, of which some does not build their own understanding.
  • National planning cultures in MSP authority largely depend on the type of agency (e.g. environmental vs. economic).

TRANSFERABILITY:

The methodology developed in this study is applicable to MSP processes in other regions.

RESPONSIBLE ENTITY: 

Centre for Blue Governance, Department of Planning, Aalborg University.

CONTACT PERSON: 

Trine Skovgaard Kirkfeldt: tsk@plan.aau.dk

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