Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives that have been specified through a political process.
MSP is not an end in itself but a practical way to create and establish a more rational use of marine space and the interactions among its uses, to balance demands for development with the need to protect the environment, and to deliver social and economic outcomes in an open and planned way.
Since organizing the first International Workshop on MSP in 2006, the IOC has become a leading institution promoting science-based, integrated, adaptive, strategic and participatory concepts worldwide. Its guide, “A Step by Step Approach” (2009), has become an internationally-recognized standard that contributes to harmonizing the conceptual approach behind MSP, from establishing authority, through planning to implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
In March 2017, following the Second International Conference on MSP, the IOC adopted the “Joint Roadmap to accelerate MSP processes worldwide” with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE). To support its implementation, the MSPglobal Initiative was launched in November 2017 to develop new international guidelines on cross-border and transboundary MSP, with the objective to triple the marine area benefiting from MSP effectively implemented by 2030. It will contribute to sketching out a vision and a role for MSP in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in particular the dedicated SDG 14.
Within UNESCO, the IOC has fostered collaboration with the Man and Biosphere Programme and the World Heritage Marine Programme, demonstrating the value of MSP tools in developing marine conservation plans.