Launch of a new initiative on Maritime Spatial Planning

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the European Commission will launch, MSPGlobal, a new global project on maritime spatial planning, on 11 and 12 February at UNESCO Headquarters. The project aims to promote better maritime spatial planning with a view to avoiding conflicts and improving the governance of human activities at sea such as aquaculture, tourism, marine energy, and exploitation of the seabed.

The launch conference will bring together experts, political decision-makers and stakeholders, providing them with an opportunity to take stock of existing experiences in maritime spatial planning and discuss the challenges they raise, notably with regard to cross-border cooperation.

The three-year MSPglobal project aims to develop international guidelines on maritime spatial planning and regulate activities in coastal and marine waters, which have grown significantly in recent decades.

Two pilot projects will be implemented under MSPglobal to create a repository of data, knowledge, policies and decision-making tools for maritime spatial planning. Their objective is also to strengthen local authorities’ data management capacities. The first pilot project will be deployed in the Western Mediterranean (Algeria, France, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia), the second in the Southeast Pacific with a specific cross-border exercise in the historic bay of Guayaquil (Ecuador and Peru). Parallel training activities will also be organized with experts from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Libya, Mauritania, Panama, Peru and Portugal.

The MSPglobal project, combined with the implementation of the nine actions of the Joint Roadmap published by the IOC and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in 2017, aims to treble the area of territorial waters covered by a maritime spatial planning system by 2030.

The event will be broadcast live:


WestMED: European Commission makes €1.4 million available for local support

Meeting on 3 October in Algiers, the governing body of the Western Mediterranean Initiative has launched a €1.4 million assistance mechanism set up by the European Commission.

With this mechanism, the Commission will support the 10 participating countries and their stakeholders to implement this joint effort.

WestMED is a shared initiative between EU and non-EU countries. It supports projects that foster the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean sea basin. Countries involved are Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia.

The European Commission’s €1.4 million additional funding will help WestMED countries to set up national hubs that can give tailor-made, local support when preparing project proposals. It can also be used to help to further promote the initiative and provide information to maritime stakeholders.

Through the initiative, already eight projects have received a total funding of about 7.6 million euros. The projects are best practice examples of cross-border cooperation targeting safety, environmental protection and sustainable economic development. For example

  • local Tunisian fishing communities are cooperating with Italian and French partners to develop sustainable fisheries in the region
  • maritime training institutes and academies, in collaboration with French, Spanish and Italian companies and partners, work to develop new skills and professions in maritime sectors. This will lead to new jobs and increased mobility of students and workers
  • several West Med countries participate in a new EU-funded project on Maritime Spatial Planning, which will help to better manage maritime activities
  • Morocco is involved in a project about algal forest restoration
  • Algeria participates in a project about preparedness in oils spill response

Further progress is expected in the coming months. A  WestMED stakeholders Conference is scheduled in Algiers on 3 December 2018, back to back with a Ministerial meeting.

WestMed Initiative launched

Today the European Commission launched a new initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western Mediterranean region.

The region covers economic hubs like Barcelona, Marseille, Naples and Tunis. It also includes tourist destinations like the Balearic Islands, Sicily and Corsica.

The sea’s biodiversity is under severe pressure with a recent report by scientists from the Joint Research Centre indicating that 50% has been lost in the last 50 years. In addition to this are recent security and safety concerns from the increase in migration from the South to the North.

This initiative will allow EU and neighbouring countries to work together to increase maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity.

The initiative is the fruit of years’ of dialogue between ten countries of the Western Mediterranean region who are ready and willing to work together on these shared interests for the region: five EU Member States (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta), and five Southern partner countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia). It follows up on the Ministerial Declaration on Blue Economy endorsed by the Union for Mediterranean (UfM) on 17 November 2015.


Goals and Priorities

  1. A safer and more secure maritime space
    Priorities include cooperation between national coast guards and the response to accidents and oil spills. Specific actions will focus on the upgrade of traffic monitoring infrastructure, data sharing and capacity
  2. A smart and resilient blue economy
    Priorities include new data sourcing, biotechnology and coastal tourism.
  3. Better governance of the sea.
    Priorities include spatial planning, marine knowledge, habitat conservation and sustainable fisheries

Full reports

The initiative is presented in two documents:

The Communication for an Initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western

The Framework for Action

Official start of the WestMed Strategy project

On Wednesday, December 16 2015, there was a kick-off meeting between the Executive Agency of the European Commission for SMEs (EASME),  the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the EC (DG MARE) and an Ecorys led consortium with SML and Plan Bleu.

The meeting was also attended by the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission.

A contract was signed which marked the start of a project to develop a maritime strategy for the Western-Mediterranean sea basin. This involves both the South European and Northern African countries bordering that region.

A combination of desk –  and field research will result in identifying several concrete options for so-called cooperation corridors that contain structural promising (economic and environmental) potential and support from key stakeholders.

The project will last 20 months and will be divided into two phases.

In the first phase, the consortium will analyse the existing literature regarding economic, social and environmental challenges and propose options for collaboration to be discussed with the most important parties involved.

In the second phase , a more in-depth analysis of the proposed options will be carried out leading to the drafting of a maritime strategy and action plan for this sea basin.

The project is characterised by a strong participatory  approach. This means that there will be regular on- and offline consultations with relevant stakeholders.

In this context, focus group meetings and events in different locations around the Mediterranean are planned, an interactive website  launched, representatives and institutions consulted and a final conference organised.

During the meeting, Ecorys presented the strengths of the consortium for building the strategy. In particular Ecorys’ experience in project management,  blue growth policies, impact assessments, stakeholder consultations and analysis;  SML’s experience in maritime strategies and governance and Plan Bleu’s experience in the implementation and monitoring of the Barcelona Process in the Mediterranean.