Promoting a green transition on the coast and, as part of this, enabling sustainable blue economy requires good planning. A prerequisite for delivering a sustainable planning solution is the consultation and engagement of multi-sectoral stakeholders in local, regional and national processes. This nut was chewed on 6-7 September 2023 in Helsinki with other planners from the Baltic Sea countries at the Baltic Sea2Land Project Days.
The aim of the Coastal Strategy, which is currently being updated in Finland, is to promote sustainable use of the coast, responding to the threats of habitat loss, climate change and pollution. The Coastal Strategy guides coastal development and planning, and identifies relevant stakeholders. The measures in the strategy will be implemented among maritime spatial planners through the Interreg Baltic Sea2Land project, whose second project meeting took place in Helsinki in early September.
The project partners are united both by the sea and by the challenges posed by overlapping governance structures. Long-term sustainable planning requires an understanding of these issues and extensive stakeholder cooperation and involvement throughout the planning process. The planning challenges faced by the project partners differ slightly, but the essence is the same: they all relate to maritime spatial planning and how to address land-sea interactions and maximise stakeholder involvement.
The aim of the project is to create tools for coastal zone planning that will help visualise and implement the planning issue and identify relevant stakeholders. It includes a map application, an Knowldege Hub and a process description for conducting stakeholder work in a situation where organisations are partly working on overlapping tasks and where the identification of relevant stakeholders and responsibilities is important. In practice, this means an online platform consisting of different tools that the planner may need when working with stakeholders.
The project will start testing the tools of the web platform through pilots, which will give an indication of how the platform works and how it should be adapted to better suit the end-users, i.e. the planners. There are four pilots in Finland, all of which address the measures identified in the Coastal Strategy. The pilots will start in the autumn with the first stakeholder meetings and will continue until the end of 2024.
In Finland, the themes of the pilots, in cooperation with the participating regional councils along the coast, are as follows:
Regional Council of Kymenlaakso: Assessment of the up-to-dateness of the regional plan of Kymenlaakso – promotion of blue-green corridors
Regional Council of Southwest Finland: status of monitoring of the Archipelago Sea
Northern planning area ( Regional Council of Ostrobothnia, Council of Oulu Region and Regional Council of Lapland): Offshore wind power and migratory fish.
National pilot: blue green network and connectivity in Finnish marine and coastal areas