Scenario-Building for Marine Spatial Planning


This chapter focuses on the use of scenarios to inform the development of marine spatial plans. An in-depth example of scenario-building for the Celtic Seas is presented, based on a four-way possibility space using the axes of spatial efficiency and cooperation between planning authorities to create four scenarios which were tested in a workshop. This demonstrated the importance of using scenarios to understand the aspirations of different stakeholders towards integration within the marine spatial planning (MSP) process, the realities of encouraging co-location between sea uses and highlighted important issues where further transboundary cooperation on MSP may be required.

Sea Basin(s): 
January 2019
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • What are the existing scenario-building practices for MSP?
  • Which principles the MSP scenarios should be based on?
  • What were the outputs of the scenario-building process in the SIMCELT project?

Implementation Context:

The study represents a contribution to the book "Maritime Spatial Planning - past, present, future", edited in 2019.

Aspects / Objectives:

The chapter focuses on the notion of scenarios and gives an overview of existing scenario-building practices and methodology.


The case study of the Celtic Region was considered as an example. The focus was done on the SIMCELT project, as part of which, a scenario-building exercise was carried out. The scenarios were developed using the four-quadrant or "possibility space" approach. The study looks back at the scenario-building process implemented within the SIMCELT project.

Main Outputs / Results:

The study highlights the key outcomes of the scenario workshop, organized within the scope of the SIMCELT project. It demonstrates the ways the scenario-building can assist planners in identifying the alternatives that high-level policy-makers can consider.


The methodology used is applicable in the scenario-building of other MSP processes. 

Responsible Entity:

Department of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.

Costs / Funding Source:

The project “Economy of Maritime Space”, funded by the Polish National Science Centre.

Contact person:

Stephen Jay