Marine Spatial Planning

Our aims 

The North and Baltic Sea are teeming with human activities – and they are increasing, including the development of offshore energy infrastructure. Indeed, the expansion of offshore renewable energy is an indispensable activity to achieve the EU's "net zero" ambitions by latest 2050 and keep global warming to around 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To ensure that offshore renewable energy can play its role in the decarbonisation process, the health of the oceans must be guaranteed and existing and new uses of marine spaces need to be re-evaluated  against the principles set in the EU's sustainable blue economy.

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is an essential tool for integrated planning for entire sea basins; it enables including and assessing the complexity of a variety of aspects, the interactions among sectors and environmental protection needs, over different timeframes and political borders. MSP must be the foundation for the environmentally-friendly development of the sustainable blue economy.

The Offshore Coalition for Energy and Nature (OCEaN) MSP working group aims to support this development by

  • Enabling knowledge-sharing between its members and beyond on MSP processes, guidelines and outcomes within different national contexts
  • Identifying challenges for planning across borders
  • Understanding impacts on nature and how to best assess cumulative impacts
  • Identifying conflicts with existing economic activities
  • Establishing joint recommendations for improving MSP processes and solutions for space allocation for sustainable wind energy development and connecting infrastructure
  • Suggesting and whenever possible testing, solutions for spatial conflicts and discussing multi-use options with relevant stakeholders
  • Cooperating with actors beyond OCEaN, e.g. academia, other initiatives, public authorities and policymakers at national and EU level to exchange, use synergies and avoid duplication.

In this context, the MSP working group will pursue the following activities:

  • Develop key joint MSP principles and policy messages
  • Compile a comparative assessments of MSP processes
  • Promote good practices in MSP processes, including visualisation tools and stakeholder engagement practices. These will feed into the OCEaN Offshore Practice Database
  • Assessment of multi-use options, starting with discussions, exchanges and building an understanding of options.