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Combining offshore wind farms, nature conservation and seafood: Lessons from a Dutch community of practice

Marine Policy, Volume 126
Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How can OWF, nature protection and seafood all coexist?
  • How can Communities of Practices (COPs) be involved in MSP?
  • How to mitigate impacts and optimise benefits of offshore wind farms?

Implementation Context:

This paper was produced within the context of Offshore Wind Farm development and the positive and negative consequences of those installations on other sea uses.

Aspects / Objectives:

This paper explores the role of Communities of Practice (COPs) as a participatory tool for development.  This paper argues that COPs offer a potential way forward. COPs are defined as "groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly" (Wenger 2006).


Based on a case study of the Dutch Community of Practice North Sea (COPNS), this paper examines the potential contribution of COPs as a tool for stimulating marine multi-use by balancing multiple interests and initiating pilots and learning. The relevance of social learning in marine multi-use settings Is discussed and the concept of COPs introduced, followed by a description of the methodology and a presentation of the COPNS case study. The findings are then discussed, followed by conclusions and recommendations.

Main Outputs / Results:

  • Marine multi-use is more than a mere 'design question' and requires active collaboration from all stakeholders.
  • The Dutch Community of Practice North Sea is a novel approach towards accelerating multi-use in a controversial context.
  • By creating a learning environment in a non-political setting, Communities of Practice foster a culture of cooperation.
  • Ten guidelines for Communities of Practices as an action-oriented tool towards salient marine multi-use practices are proposed.


This article presents the lessons learned from a Dutch community of practices in the Baltic Sea that can inspire other sea regions and countries.

Costs / Funding Source:

This work was supported by the Dutch Ministry of Eco-nomic Affairs under the Policy Support Research Programme Top sectors, theme Living Lab SKIPs [grant BO-34-001-033, 2017] and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Policy Support Research Programme Sustainable Food Production, Food Chains and Nature, theme Nature-inclusive Energy [grant BO-43-023.03-002].

Contact person: (nathalie[dot]steins[at]wur[dot]nl) (N.A. Steins), (jeroen[dot]veraart[at]wur[dot]nl) (J.A. Veraart), (judith[dot]klostermann[at]wur[dot]nl) (J.E.M. Klostermann), marnix. (poelman[at]wur[dot]nl) (M. Poelman).


[1] E. Wenger, B. Wenger-Trayner, Introduction to communities of practice - a brief overview of the concept and its uses, 2015.