Among many coastal countries Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has become the preferred management approach to address increasing conflicts among multiple uses of coastal and marine areas, including their contiguous exclusive economic zones (EEZs). Over the next decade another 30 countries, including the coastal countries of the European Union (EU) and USA, will develop and approve marine spatial plans that will cover about a third of the surface area of the world’s EEZs. IOC-UNESCO has provided guidance and training to many of these MSP initiatives and is recognized as the leading international organization on MSP issues.
A common theme underpinning these concepts is the importance of ecosystem-based approaches to manage human uses and sustain ecosystem services while adapting to the impacts of climate change. The new challenges of climate variability and change, alongside the other existing drivers that cause depletion and degradation within coastal and marine ecosystems, increases the urgency and the need to scale up these efforts at national and regional scales. There is now a need to support adaptive ecosystem-management and governance that is informed by and evolves through ongoing learning and adaptive processes, to help increase the resilience and well-being of societies dependent on marine goods and services.
In the regional context, many initiatives at the scale of Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) are leading activities on improving our understanding of coastal and marine systems by developing robust databases and information products to support coastal and marine governance.
In Africa, the LME projects in Agulhas-Somali, Benguela and Canary Current are good examples of the work that LME practitioners are currently undertaking on coastal and marine governance. Likewise, the African Union, through the 2050 African Integrated Marine Strategy, also aims to achieve a comprehensive and effective plan to understand the existing and future challenges with regards to socio-economic development and coastal and marine ecosystems.
- Strengthening the global and regional network of partners to enhance ecosystem-based management and to provide support for integrated coastal area management and MSP through the development of coastal and marine web atlases. Building on existing initiatives in Africa, Caribbean and Latin America. (South-South).
- Development of decision support tools to increase synergies to implement the methodological concepts for both ICAM and MSP, and to facilitate communication, dissemination, and outreach activities.
- Development of capacities and partnership building through twinning and learning exchanges, workshops, and training in the context of OceanTeacher and the International Coastal Atlas Network ICAN-IODE Project.