Emerging ecosystem-based Maritime Spatial Planning topics in North and Baltic Sea Regions (eMSP NBSR)


More information about the project: https://www.emspproject.eu/


Call: EMFF-MSP-2020
Project duration: 30 months
Start date: 1 September 2021
Estimated project cost: € 3,123,394.41
Requested EU contribution: € 2,469,145.65


Lead Partner:

Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)

Project Partners:

Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands (MINLNV)
Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands (MIN IenW)
Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency of Germany (BSH)
Gdynia Maritime University (GMU)
Danish Maritime Authority (DMA)
Regional Council of Southwest Finland (FI RCSW)
Government of Àland (FI GA)
Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM)
French Naval Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service (SHOM)
De Blauwe Cluster (BC)
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM)
VASAB Secretariat
Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

In project topics interested parties:

Uni DK
Ministry of the Environment, Finland


The aim of the eMSP NBSR project is to enable Maritime Spatial Planners of managing authorities and policymakers from the North and Baltic Sea Regions to reflect on current MSP practices, to learn effectively from each other, and to collectively identify problems and solutions. This will provide new knowledge and information to national governments and the European Commission on implementation, development and research actions, and managerial approaches that can or should be taken to deal with future challenges and opportunities afforded by the sea in a coherent way and with involvement of industry, academia and non-governmental organisations.

With all countries having MSP plans in place by 2021, MSP in Europe will enter a new stage. The period that follows is a unique opportunity to take stock: What has been achieved so far in the respective countries and sea basins and what needs to be done to ensure MSP fulfils its potential? It is also a unique opportunity to share the lessons learnt, to expand and align the available information and knowledge base, and to use the newly gained knowledge and experience to jointly tackle the challenges ahead. Preparing for this future, however, is not a one-off event, but a process that requires continuous learning and exchange between MSP authorities/planners, stakeholders and scientists. A suitable platform that brings together people, information and insights in a flexible and above all reflexive way is currently lacking.

Overall goals of eMSP NBSR:

  • Support a coherent implementation of marine plans across borders and coherence in overall maritime policy in the North and Baltic Sea Regions.
  • Support continued development of MSP to identify and address present and future challenges.
  • Develop capacity and capabilities of responsible authorities to make them better equipped to these challenges.
  • Assist Baltic and North Sea countries to establish a structure for cross-border collaboration and learning on these matters.
  • Provide practical solutions and recommendations in relation to the most urgent emerging topics (project learning strands), identified by partners as: ocean governance, ecosystem-based management, sustainable blue economy, monitoring and evaluation of MSP, and the future of data technology.
  • Identify key future areas of work for MSP.

The core output of the eMSP NBSR project is a mechanism that allows maritime spatial planners to jointly develop approaches for MSP implementation in the North and Baltic Sea Regions and beyond, guiding them through the implementation phase of the maritime spatial plans and taking on board the ambitions and challenges for MSP stemming from policy developments under the EU Green Deal and other related EU initiatives. The eMSP NBSR project is designed to address the urgent need for learning of maritime authorities and inter-ministerial bodies. At the heart of the project is a Community of Practice (CoP) North and Baltic Sea Regions that will facilitate continuous learning as a long-term way to ‘future proof’ MSP.

The project addresses three types of overall objectives related to:

  1. providing MSP practitioners in NBSR with both capacity and methods to learn together how to address common problems;
  2. promoting structures for a continued sharing and learning across marine basins;
  3. urgent concrete issues to address in MSP practice at the implementation stage.

The project will generate new knowledge that is relevant for the North and Baltic Sea Region in five key emerging topics (project learning strands). This knowledge has added value for all European Member States and neighbouring countries with maritime areas. It will also improve the understanding of societal challenges such climate change in the maritime environment and the roadmaps to address these, through-out the EU. The case studies developed in the Community of Practice will give access to the latest insights in key areas, such as vulnerable coastal areas.


VASAB Contacts

Margarita Vološina, Communication Manager
Phone: +371 26480283
E-mail: margarita.volosina@vasab.org


Project implementation

Project inception phase (months 1-6)

The key of the inception phase is to provide a working frame for five project learning strands by examining the existing MSP context in the North and Baltic Seas in order to substantiate and guide the work within the learning strands. It will also serve to build the necessary relationships with the stakeholders outside the MSP community in particular with business associations, NGOs, associations of local and regional authorities from both sea basins. Furthermore, it will create a common understanding of the overall climate challenges in the North and Baltic seas.
These activities will ensure a mutual understanding of each targeted learning strand at the start of the project. They will create a basis for a shared vision on how to address these grand challenges and how to tackle different tasks and form the thematic learning strands. Moreover, how and which stakeholders to engage from the NGO, business and governance realms.

Learning strands within the Community of Practice (CoP)

The project is built around a Community of Practice (CoP) model, which is based on creating forums for policymakers, practitioners and researchers to discuss important MSP developments in key thematic areas. Activities to be conducted through the CoPs will enable maritime policymakers and professionals to adequately address future challenges in the maritime environment by improving the design, implementation and monitoring of Maritime Spatial Plans, and using the best available knowledge from science and innovation. It will make knowledge on the five key emerging topics or project learning strands addressed by two cross cutting issues – climate change and EU Green Deal:

  1. Ocean governance;
  2. Ecosystem-based approach;
  3. Sustainable blue economy;
  4. Monitoring and evaluation;
  5. Data sharing, information and communication technology serving MSP.

The CoP teams will use the inception phase to identify their learning questions, necessary knowledge and scientific experts and identify the opportunities to connect to the European Green Deal. Furthermore, each learning strand will make a GAP- analysis for CoP policy issues, CoP teams also prepare stakeholder engagement strategies and determine whether there are case studies that can contribute to more streamlined MSPs in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Learning questions are worked out and answered in such a way that future MSPs can be further developed accordingly.

Science Policy Interface and Policy Governance Implications

Work in the project is facilitated by science and policy interface running along the entire project time and through a group of scientists, closely linked to project work at two levels (1) as scientific co-facilitators of thematic learning strand work in the CoPs and (2) through a project scientific advisory board (SAB) meeting regularly throughout the project assuring the scientific reflection link across groups and over time.
Scientific point of view will help to establish the methods and how the different thematic learning strands best can feed in learning into subnational, national and international processes. The overall learning valid for marine planning and management in other EU Member States along the North and Baltic Sea and beyond will be distilled into policy briefs or other appropriate types of products to for specific target groups (e.g. story maps, interactive web documents, interactive videos).


Project has been approved by the European Commission European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency. Project is financed with the contribution of the European Union.