Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP, or Maritime Strategic Planning) is to the sea what spatial planning is to the land: an approach to the organisation of activities designed to limit conflicts between actors and activities, promote synergies and limit cumulative environmental impacts. However, it poses new challenges for decision-makers and managers, due to the specific characteristics of maritime space: a three-dimensional environment, where activities can follow one another or even overlap, and where only the states are owners.

MSP is now an approach that is promoted throughout the world. In Europe, it has been institutionalised since 2014, with the adoption of the Maritime Spatial Planning Framework Directive (2014/89/EU), which requires Member States to define maritime plans that meet requirements relating to the consideration of land-sea interactions, the adoption of the principles of the ecosystem approach, the participation of all stakeholders, coherence with other EU policies, and cross-border cooperation between Member States and with third countries.

SML and Maritime Spatial Planning

Despite the robustness of its theoretical construction, the operational implementation of EMP is sometimes complex and controversial: planning is about the future, and therefore often implies a break with the status quo. In this context, our integrated and prospective approach allows us to assist the actors in charge of planning to

  • Analyse current and future issues
  • Draw up prospective scenarios
  • Define a vision of the future shared by the stakeholders concerned
  • Drawing up strategies and applying them spatially
  • Finally, develop plans for each activity that are consistent with this vision.

In parallel, SML is fully involved in monitoring the implementation of the directive in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Member States through the projects in which we are involved. We are also actively involved in scientific research on the subject.

Some examples of our work in this area