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Climate change and marine spatial planning: policy brief



As a changing climate alters ocean conditions, the redistribution of marine ecosystem services and benefits will affect maritime activities and societal value chains. Mainstreaming climate change into Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning will allow for improved preparedness and response, as well as reduced vulnerability of marine systems. The integrative ocean governance process of MSP may effectively support the ‘think globally, act locally’ slogan, which is an integral part of climate action, and may function as a switchboard for mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development objectives.

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

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How can MSP contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation?
  • How to involve key stakeholders when tackling climate change?
  • What is the role of Marine Protected Areas and nature-based solutions?

Implementation Context:

This policy brief was drafted by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission in the framework of the MSP Global initiative.

Aspects / Objectives:

This paper aims to provide insights on the integration of climate change issues and challenges into marine spatial planning initiatives and highlights the concept of "climate-smart MSP".


This document is based on a bibliography of scientific literature as well as range of practices and initiatives around the world.

Main Outputs / Results:

This policy brief provides recommendations for decision-makers to encourage the integration of climate change concerns in MSP approaches. It also highlights how MSP can help tackle climate change as it can be a way to implement the "think globally, act locally" slogan through mitigation and adaptation actions at local level.


This document is transferable to any MSP initiative.

Responsible Entity:


Costs / Funding Source: