Maritime spatial planning cooperation between countries on the Baltic Sea and the North Sea

Finland’s maritime spatial planning coordination group is involved in a joint Baltic Sea and North Sea maritime spatial planning project eMSP NBSR. The study focuses on addressing the challenges of climate change and the objectives of the European Green Deal through maritime spatial planning.

The parties responsible for Finland’s maritime spatial planning – the regional councils along the coast – will participate in the Emerging ecosystem-based Maritime Spatial Planning topics in North and Baltic Seas Region project, which began in September 2021.

The project seeks to promote cross-border cooperation in maritime spatial planning between the Baltic Sea and North Sea maritime spatial planning authorities. Among other things, the project will examine the need to harmonise maritime spatial planning data at the EU level. The maritime spatial planning authority in the Netherlands is leading the project. The Finnish Environment Institute will take part in the project in addition to the Finnish MSP Coordination Group. The Ministry of the Environment is also involved as an associated partner.

“The timing of the project is excellent, as it coincides with the start of the second maritime spatial planning cycle. The project will involve studying the practices and requirements in the various countries with regard to monitoring and evaluating the maritime spatial plans that are currently in force,” says Mari Pohja-Mykrä, who coordinates cooperation in maritime spatial planning.

The project will tackle challenging issues, such as climate change, the objectives of the European Green Deal, and supporting sustainable blue growth. The MSP Coordination Group will emphasise project actions that could reinforce an ecosystem-based approach to maritime spatial planning.

“The project provides us with an opportunity to enhance our capabilities in the implementation of an ecosystem-based approach. Finnish specialists possess strong ecological expertise, and the first planning cycle was able to tap into this knowledge. However, we will need more information in order to understand socio-ecological systems and relationships between them, especially in areas such as the socio-cultural factors and significance throughout the archipelago and coastal zone. Enhanced knowledge and a shared understanding will provide us with a foundation for better maritime spatial planning,” says Pohja-Mykrä.

The project has received funding from the EU’s Directorate-General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and CINEA’s funding application for maritime spatial planning in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea (EMFF). The project will run for 30 months, from 1 September 2021 to 28 February 2024. The Regional Council of Southwest Finland is a project partner, and, as the regional council coordinating maritime spatial planning cooperation, it represents all of the coastal regional councils in the project.