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Adriplan methodology


Methodology developed to carry out the ADRIPLAN project and proposed as reference methodology for practically implementing MSP in the Adriatic and Ionian Region (including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania), also considering a cross border perspective. The methodology is based on the Ecosystem Based Approach (EBA) and capitalizes previous methodologies developed for this region, as in particular the one developed by the Shape project. It is divided in several phases, including: pre-planning, vision and objectives definition, analysis and interpretation (coexistence among uses, cumulative impacts, compatibility among uses, socio-economic aspects, etc.), design, monitoring and evaluation of the planning outputs and implementations. Cross cutting issues, such as stakeholder participation and monitoring of the planning process, take place in different steps of the developed methodology.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What are the methodological phases and steps to be considered in the implementation of MSP at the basin and sub-basin level, also considering a cross-border perspective?
  • How can multi-scale approach (from macro-regional to local) in MSP be applied?
  • How can the ecosystem-based approach be promoted and applied within MSP?
  • How can stakeholder engagement and consultation be framed as cross-cutting activities for the wh0le MSP process?
  • What are the methods to be used in the analysis of coexistence among uses and cumulative impacts?

 Implementation Context

The ADRIPLAN methodology represents one of the main results achieved by the ADRIPLAN project. It has been setup from the very beginning of ADRIPLAN, reaching a fine-tuned version at the end of the project, which takes advantage of the additional information obtained from: the updating and consolidation of the initial assessment, stakeholders’ involvement and critical analysis of new projects and documents. The intent is to deliver a useful instrument to be adopted for future MSP initiatives and projects addressed to reach EUSAIR (EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region) goals and objectives related to MSP.

Aspects / Objectives

The main objectives of the developed ADRIPLAN methodology are:

  • Provide a methodological guideline within the ADRIPLAN project for the implementation of cross-border MSP process within the Adriatic and Ionian Region (AIR) and specifically in two Focus Areas (Northern Adriatic and Southern Adriatic/Northern Ionian).
  • Provide a methodological reference for further MSP projects and initiatives at the AIR and Mediterranean scales for the required implementation of the EU Directive 2014/89.
  • Promote the implementation of MSP according to the ecosystem-based approach adopted by the EU legislative framework on marine and maritime issues (in particular MSFD).
  • Allow the reproducibility and transparency of the actions forming the methodological approach.
  • Allow comparison between different maritime spatial plans.

ADRIPLAN study area: Adriatic-Ionian Region and Focus Areas. Source: ADRIPLAN project


The methodology adopted in ADRIPLAN is structured in several phases, organized in a flowchart (see figure below). Crosscutting issues take place in different steps along with the implementation of the planning process, as for the activities related to stakeholders’ participation and monitoring of the planning process.

A brief description of the methodology developed is reported below, in particular including two cross-cutting activities and the five flowchart phases.

Stakeholders’ participation (cross-cutting activity)

Stakeholders’ participation informs the entire planning process, considering several stakeholders’ contribution from data sharing to the elaboration and verification of planning measures. Within ADRIPLAN, this activity was ensured by a multiple set of consultation tools: workshops, questionnaires, institutional meetings and bilateral meetings with institutional partners. In particular, results from the stakeholders’ participation supported the identification of: (i) main MSP needs and priorities; (ii) key transnational and local issues to be addressed by MSP plans; (iii) main conflicts and synergies among uses and between uses and environmental components; (iv) planning measures.

Monitoring of the planning process (cross-cutting activity)

This phase corresponds to the assessment of the effects and benefits of the planning process. Within ADRIPLAN this activity was carried out in three steps:

  1. Review of the assessment practice and needs; this step consists on the assessment of the planning process within the decision making process while it is on-going. It is strictly related to the phases of the construction and the elaboration of the planning process (pre-planning, identification of goals and priorities for planning, elaboration of the planning options and finalization of the planning proposals).
  2. Definition of criteria and indicators, which can be used for the evaluation of the plan’s implementation.
  3. Recommendations for an evaluation process; this activity aims at providing useful recommendations to adapt the planning process to emerging issues considering also the existing and possible future policies, visions and governance structures put in place at the European, Mediterranean and sub-regional level.


The pre-planning phase consists in setting the ground for MSP, establishing the knowledge framework for the following activities of visioning, analysis, interpretation and design of maritime plans. In ADRIPLAN, pre-planning included the analysis of strategic documents (as in particular the EUSAIR Strategy and Action Plan) as well as the identification of the geographical scope of MSP at two scales: (i) the whole Adriatic and Ionian Region and (ii) two Focus Areas (Northern Adriatic and Southern Adriatic/Northern Ionian). This phase also included a consistent activity of data and information collection (Initial Assessment) related to various topics: maritime uses, socio-economic aspects related to maritime uses, legal issues, planning regimes, environmental  characteristics, including state of the art on MSFD descriptors for the area.


This phase aimed at identifying priorities and needs for the AIR and for the two Focus Areas, in particular considering indications and targets of EUSAIR and the information collected in the Initial Assessment of the project. Different levels of details were considered for the two scales of analysis.


The analysis phase consists in studying the coexistence among maritime uses, cumulative impacts on environmental components, compatibility among uses and socio-economic implications. Within ADRIPLAN, at the basis of this phase there was the analysis of uses at years 2014 and 2020, which was performed through the elaboration of maps with the support of the ADRIPLAN Data Portal. The aim was to identify the baseline conditions and reference scenario for each use. The analysis enabled to identify: distribution of maritime uses, existing and potential spatial conflicts among uses, main spatial trends of sectorial development, also in relation to potential impacts on the environment.


In this phase, the synergies and conflicts among uses, as emerging from stakeholders’ participation process and the previous analytical phase, are recollected and analysed at once, to put in evidence emerging issues and demands for planning. The main output of this activity was “synthesis maps” with spatial identification of main conflicts and synergies. In the maps the following issues were reported and, if possible, spatially localized: use-use conflicts/synergies; environment-use conflicts/synergies; regulatory/management/ planning conflicts; main planning needs and priorities.


The design or planning phase consists in identifying the strategic objectives and planning measures respectively at the macroregional level (AIR) and for the two Focus Areas. Within ADRIPLAN, the strategic planning proposal (AIR scale) was built on the following issues:

  • Reference to main strategic documents insisting on the AIR (as in particular EUSAIR);
  • Sources for data acquisition (other projects: e.g. SHAPE, COCONET etc.);
  • Main processes of knowledge building (e.g. stakeholder involvement, institutional dialogue, etc.);
  • Key transnational topics (outlined in the vision phase);
  • Reference to vision and objectives for the AIR identified in previous documents.

The process that led to the development of a strategic planning proposal is composed of different steps. Firstly, the analysis was performed for each use, and use-use/environment-use and management conflicts/synergies were identified. Secondly, all the elements previously emerged were analysed together, and further relevant issues were identified and interpreted. Finally, a strategic planning proposal was drafted for the AIR, which .identified different management zones. For the identification of planning measures on the two Focus Areas, relevant planning issues were analysed through a direct process of stakeholder involvement and the dialogue with interested institutional stakeholders. The problems to be addressed through MSP were therefore highlighted and described with the support of maps and excerpts of previous analysis (coexistence, cumulative impacts etc.). Based on those activities draft planning measures were identified; the finalization of these measures was conducted after a careful revision from the institutional partners.

Main Outputs / Results

The ADRIPLAN methodology was specifically used in the project for the development of cross-border MSP exercises within the Adriatic and Ionian Region (AIR) and specifically in two Focus Areas (Northern Adriatic and Southern Adriatic/Northern Ionian). Furthermore, it aims to provide a guideline for the implementation of other MSP projects and initiatives in the AIR and at the Mediterranean or sub-Mediterranean scale. The developed guidelines includes the outputs arisen from each of the phases constituting the methodology, i.e.:

  • Definition of the geographical scope of MSP;
  • Identification of key transnational and local MSP-related issues (needs and priorities);
  • Outputs from the analysis of coexistence among uses;
  • Outputs from the analysis of cumulative impacts;
  • Outputs from the socio-economic analysis;
  • Identification of main conflicts/synergies among maritime uses and between uses and environmental components;
  • Definition of SMART planning objectives.
  • Identification of planning measures;
  • A set of steps, criteria and indicators for validating the relevance and achievement of the planning objectives in the future;
  • Recommendations for the evaluation processes designed in order to monitor a MSP projects’ implementation and adaptation


The instrument delivers a guideline that can be useful for the implementation of other MSP projects and initiatives, in particular in the AIR and at the Mediterranean or sub-Mediterranean scale.

Contact Person

Elena Gissi

University IUAV of Venice

Phone: +39 041 2572176

E-mail: (egissi[at]iuav[dot]it)

Responsible Entity

University IUAV of Venezia (Italy)

Costs / Funding Source

Funding Source: the Methodology was developed within the ADRIPLAN project, funded by EC DG MARE.

Costs: not possible to be defined, as part of the overall funds to the ADRIPLAN project.