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Bow-tie approach


The Bow-tie approach comes from a risk assessment background. It will be transferred to MSP with regard to evaluating exisitng legislation and policies (showing gaps and duplications) and in drawing up scenarios for reaching Blue Growth targets.

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

Questions this practice may help answer

  • How can risks related to human activities in a marine context be managed?
  • What are the causes and the consequences of an undesired event and how are they linked into undesired scenarios?
  • What measures can be taken to prevent an undesired event from occurring or mitigate its consequences?

Implementation Context

A risk assessment method originally developed for the oil and gas industry, the Bow-tie analysis is adapted in the framework of BALTSPACE project to analyse environmental management policies and measures within the context of marine spatial planning.

Aspects / Objectives

In BALTSPACE the Bow-tie analysis is applied in order to analyse and evaluate the spatial and temporal management options for preventing environmental effects, health and safety incidents or user conflicts, as well as mitigating the environmental impacts, socio-economic consequences or legislative repercussions. In addition to the identification of legislative and policy gaps, a Bow-tie analysis includes scenario analysis of management options in the evaluation and development of the marine spatial plan.


The first step of the process is to determine the sources of risk related to the activities of the drivers operating in a given management area. Causes reflecting the activities that may prompt an undesired event, as well as the consequences of such an event are then identified. Preventive and mitigation measures are subsequently suggested.


Generic Bow-tie diagram for MSP ("BALTSPACE - Bow-tie approach", 2016)
Generic Bow-tie diagram ("BALTSPACE - Bow-tie approach", 2016)

Main Outputs / Results

The expected outputs of the Bow-tie analysis will be based on a Bow-tie diagram with its supporting documentation, risk assessment results and management measures effectiveness.


The method developed and applied in the context of BaltSpace is not country or process specific. It can thus be transferred to any MSP process taking into account the various country specific aspects.

Contact Person

Roland Cormier

Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (roland[dot]cormier[at]hzg[dot]de)

+49 4152 87-1884

Responsible Entity

Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht

Funding Source

BONUS  (EU 7th Programme for research, technological development and demonstration; Baltic Sea national funding institutions)