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Spatial planning of the coastal zone is considered an essential instrument for the implementation of the Protocol on ICZM in the Mediterranean. The ICZM Protocol is a unique legal instrument extending geographic coverage to both the land and sea areas of the coast:

According to Article 3, the area to which the Protocol applies (i.e., the coastal zones) is the area between:

  • the seaward limit of the coastal zone, which shall be the external limit of the territorial sea of Parties; and
  • the landward limit of the coastal zone, which shall be the limit of the competent coastal units as defined by the Parties.

Spatial planning to the seaward limit of the coastal zone i.e. MSP, is therefore an integral component of measures to “facilitate, through the rational planning of activities, the sustainable development of coastal zones by ensuring that the environment and landscapes are taken into account in harmony with economic, social and cultural development” (Article 5).

The Conceptual Framework for Marine Spatial Planning in the Mediterraneanintroduces MSP in the framework of the Barcelona Convention, and in particular:

  • Links MSP to ICZM – considering MSP as the main tool or process for the implementation of ICZM in the marine part of the coastal zone and specifically for planning and managing maritime human activities according to ecosystem approach goals.
  • Provides a common context to Contracting Parties (CPs) for the implementation of MSP in the Mediterranean Region.

The Conceptual Framework sets out a seven stage MSP process. These are the stages we have used in the MSP Road Map.

  1. Prepare: Starting the Process and Getting Organised
  2. Agree the Destination: Assessing the Context and Defining a Vision
  3. Map the Present: Analysing Existing Conditions
  4. Map the Future: Analysing Future Conditions
  5. Set the Parameters: Identifying Key Issues
  6. Design the Plan: Elaborating the MSP
  7. Get Results: Implementing, Monitoring and Evaluating the Plan

In 2007, the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union (IMP) was adopted to provide a more coherent approach to maritime issues (EC 2007), calling for an increased coordination between different policy areas.

Within this approach, the EU Maritime Spatial Planning Framework Directive (2014/89/EU) has been adopted in order to deal with the high and rapidly increasing demand for maritime space for different purposes. The Directive (2014/89/EU) aims to set the framework for maritime spatial planning with the objective of promoting the sustainable growth of maritime economies, sustainable development of marine areas and sustainable use of marine resources, applying an ecosystem-based approach, promoting the coexistence of relevant uses and activities and taking into account land-sea interactions. In this sense, the ecosystem-based approach must seek to contribute to the sustainability of development of marine areas, of activities at sea and of uses of marine and coastal resources.

In fact, Article 5 of the MSP Directive defines the objectives of maritime spatial planning as follows:

  1. “When establishing and implementing maritime spatial planning, Member States shall consider economic, social and environmental aspects to support sustainable development and growth in the maritime sector, applying an ecosystem-based approach, and to promote the coexistence of relevant activities and uses.
  2. Through their maritime spatial plans, Member States shall aim to contribute to the sustainable development of energy sectors at sea, of maritime transport, and of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, and to the preservation, protection and improvement of the environment, including resilience to climate change impacts. In addition, Member States may pursue other objectives such as the promotion of sustainable tourism and the sustainable extraction of raw materials.
  3. This Directive is without prejudice to the competence of Member States to determine how the different objectives are reflected and weighted in their maritime spatial plan or plans.”

In addition, the MSP Directive sets out 10 key principles for MSP seeking to encourage the development of a common approach among Member States. These principles are closely linked to the ecological objectives of the ecosystem-based approach defined by UNEP/MAP, based also on related CBD decisions.