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MSP Visions

Main issues

In order to take a forward-looking approach and prevent potential conflicts in the future, maritime visions can be developed as part of the MSP process. Such multi-objective visions can be developed through visioning exercises, scenarios and forecast development processes, or as part of strategic planning. Often, a combination of techniques is used. There are many variations of visions processes, with regard to their purpose, methods used, their geographical scale, initiating organisations, relationship with MSP and actual decision-making processes. The presentation of visions also varies greatly, from philosophical and artistic descriptions of the future to presentations of quantified analyses.

The 'Handbook for developing Visions in MSP' aims to assist planners in developing a maritime vision or a strategy, as well as assisting those who wish to prepare the terms of reference for facilitating a vision process. The handbook was developed as one of the three tasks of the Technical Study ‘MSP as a tool to support a sustainable Blue Economy’. It provides quick and easy access to relevant tools and methods, building on lessons learnt from vision development processes across Europe. It indicates a range of possibilities for working with visions, showcasing options and ideas, rather than being prescriptive.

Drawing up a vision or a strategy for a given marine space (be it at national or sea-basin wide scale) can have several advantages. It can help to communicate the benefits of an MSP process, stimulate public debate and stakeholder dialogues, increase awareness of future trends, define priorities for maritime space and ensure commitment to actions needed to reach a desired future. A vision process helps to clarify the focus of MSP and may also provide the basis to derive jointly agreed SMART objectives, towards which an MSP process should lead to.

The development of a vision for MSP is especially useful in:

• raising awareness of emerging issues and communicating benefits of an MSP process

• enabling cross-sectoral and multi-level co-ordination between different authorities addressing sectors and issues

• engaging stakeholders and capacity building, particularly where MSP is a new process

• providing a long-term focus for MSP that may exceed political cycles

• accounting for future uses not present so far

• achieving better land-sea integration of planning

Developing a transnational vision is particularly useful if, for example, the development of maritime sectors in one country influences maritime development in a bordering country whereby consensus is needed. On the other hand, many sectors require cross-border coherence in planning (e.g. shipping lanes, energy corridors, underwater cables), so developing e.g. a joint vision and planning principles can help in this regard. A vision or a strategy can also be an umbrella to better link MSP and coastal zone management objectives as well as territorial development in general, across a specific portion of space. 

How to develop visions in MSP?

The 'Handbook for developing Visions in MSP' follows a possible decision-making framework, first providing ideas on how some initial decisions can be made including what format, temporal scope, skills and resources could be used for developing a vision. The handbook also suggests concrete steps and elements needed to build a vision process, such as a stakeholder engagement strategy, analysis of future trends through forecasts and scenarios, or visualization and presentation techniques.

The PDF version allows users to skip through the handbook and read only the chapters relevant for them. It provides links between different tools explained in the handbook, as well as further reading material including other handbooks and practical examples.

Download the PDF version of the Handbook for developing Visions in MSP here.

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

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