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MSP Options and scenarios

Main issues

Development of scenarios allows planners and decision-makers to assess different alternatives. This method is widely-used in MSP, and maritime visions and strategies development processes. Strategic Environmental Assessment, often conducted in parallel with MSP, also requires the evaluation of alternatives.

Scenarios are often developed in initial stages of an MSP process in order to define and agree on a joint vision and focus of an MSP process. Nevertheless, there are various ways for developing and presenting scenarios. Usually, a number of alternative scenarios can be developed in parallel (e.g. 3 to 4) which are then compared with one another in order to illustrate different future developments and the consequences of various developments and/or decision-making processes.

The 'Handbook for developing Visions in MSP' provides multiple examples of scenario development processes and relevant literature and scenario toolboxes from other relevant fields such as sectoral and urban planning. 

Developing scenarios can have several advantages. It can help raise the awareness of an emerging issue and emphasise the need for planning. It can help steer the discussion and encourage input to the MSP process. When seeing possible changes in the marine environment, stakeholders are more likely to join the discussion and share the information. Scenarios developed in a participative way can help to promote engagement and ownership of the process by stakeholders.

For example, the scenarios for the Latvian MSP were built to support the formulation of strategic goals, priorities and objectives, as well as to demonstrate the positive and negative effects of the proposed scenarios. The scenarios were a particularly important method in discussion with stakeholders. Scenario-building was based on identification of possible development directions (axes) according to the determining factors (driving forces) that affect the marine resources and spatial use, and the situation in maritime sectors. Each of the four scenarios included the following components: i) a narrative story which describes the policy, economic, technological, social and demographic as well as environmental and climate driving forces; ii) semi-quantitative assessment of trends based on selected indicators; iii) spatial solutions. 

Please note that this section of the EU MSP Platform website is not currently being updated with new information. However, the resources throughout our website remain relevant to our mission of sharing knowledge and experiences on MSP in the EU.

Frequently asked questions