Pioneering work for sustainable use and development of the Baltic Sea – The Baltic SCOPE project presents its results

Nordregio has been part of an intensive 2-year pioneering project on transboundary Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in the Baltic Sea: the Baltic SCOPE. The project ended in March 2017 and all final publications are now available online.

The Baltic Sea is among the busiest seas in the world. Its ecosystem is unique and faces serious challenges. While improving the environmental status is a key priority, conflicts between economic sectors need to be addressed, especially with the introduction of new activities, such as offshore energy production. Finding synergies between sectors – including energy, environment, fisheries and shipping – could facilitate economic activities while ensuring a sustainable use of the maritime space and resources. MSP is a tool aiming at balancing sectorial interests and achieve sustainable use of marine resources.

Baltic SCOPE is unique – it was the first project to bring together the national authorities responsible for MSP to collaborate in transboundary MSP, with the aim of addressing cross-border as well as pan-Baltic issues and identifying joint solutions. Moreover, the wider aim was to closely align the resulting national maritime spatial plans to achieve a more sustainable use of the common resources and be well prepare for future developments within the marine space.

Baltic SCOPE has been successful in forging stronger links between participating authorities and sectors. It increased stakeholder knowledge and understanding of important sector interests and national approaches to MSP. New tools have been developed to identify and address conflicts and synergies between marine uses across countries. The exchange of information and data was necessary to identify important cross-border and cross-sector issues and to find concrete planning solutions as well as to develop practical tools to be used during the planning processes, such as the ecosystems based approach checklist toolbox and the AIS Explorer.

Baltic SCOPE has also highlighted important future needs such as a joint green infrastructure/blue corridors map, a joint fisheries map and a common approach for determining shipping safety margins. Along with the practical needs, the project revealed other challenges to be addressed, particularly regarding the involvement of key sectoral stakeholders and increasing political interest in MSP, as a strategic cross-sector policy instrument that can be used to manage a shared sea in a more long-term sustainable way.

Baltic SCOPE – the first steps towards a genuine pan-Baltic Sea Region approach to MSP were made, which can continue to evolve to include new sectors and stakeholders at the regional and local levels. Tools and best practices identified are transferable to other areas and can be applied and developed further to form a basis for more effective transboundary MSP processes in the future.

Learn more in the report Lessons learned: Obstacles and Enablers When Tackling the Challenges of Cross-Border Maritime Spatial Planning about:

  • what worked well and what was less successful
  • recommendations and concrete ideas about tools and approaches
  • main obstacles and enablers in the development of effective transnational MSP processes

Read the report Coherent Cross-border Maritime Spatial Planning for the Southwest Baltic Sea – Results from Baltic SCOPE to learn about:

  • our main activities, focus areas and recommendations
  • tools and methods developed
  • recommendations from the case study

Learn more about the results from the Central Baltic case in the report Towards Coherent Cross-Border Maritime Spatial Planning in the Central Baltic Sea, including:

  • available sector planning evidence, sector statuses and trends
  • interaction and planning challenges
  • common maps & methods used
  • status of maritime spatial planning
  • conclusions drawn from maritime spatial planning in the Central Baltic Sea

Nordregio developed recommendations on Maritime Spatial Planning across borders, useful to planners, policy-makers and others dealing with Maritime Spatial Planning in the Baltic Sea, and possibly beyond:

Other results from the project can be found at: