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Evaluating the sustainability of governance, a proposal for evaluating marine spatial planning in the Baltic Sea


The study provides a design and method for evaluating MSP and its implementation within the context of governance (Sustainability of Governance (SoG)). It establishes the relationship between various forms of integration (including the good governance principles of participation, coordination, openness and collaboration) and sustainability to examine governance practice and process. The study applies and tests this framework across the Baltic sea region through illustrative examples of various case studies to provide a set of clustered evaluative criteria (CEC) of practices deemed desirable for sustainable governance to guide or direct an evaluation as well as future governance practices and processes in MSP based the findings of the study. The output of the study is a set of concrete 8 criteria proposed to guide planners and practitioners executing their governance roles.

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 governance processes and practices be evaluated in the context of MSP?
  • What specific criteria can be used to evaluate the actual implementation of an MSP process?

Implementation Context:

The study was conducted as part of the BONUS BALTSPACE project to define a method for evaluating best governance practices and processes in MSP, as well as a guide for sustainable governance in MSP that fosters integration. 

Aspects / Objectives:

  • Integration in MSP and its relation to sustainability of Governance
  • MSP integration experiences in the Baltic Sea under the following themes (transboundary/cross-border, Policy/Sectoral, Stakeholder, knowledge)
  • Developing criteria for evaluation of SOG in MSP


This comes as a follow-up of earlier works of BONUS BALTSPACE which uses an analytical framework to examination the role of integration in MSP. The first step came with the development of an analytical framework to identify conceptual links between the multidimensional role of integration and sustainable governance. A set of CEC was then developed as a basis to evaluate the sustainability of governance in MSP. The proposed CEC constitutes a conceptual map of the nexus between integration and SOG and how MSP cases can provide insights into perceptions, decisions and actions.

Main Outputs / Results:

A set of 8 proposed criteria for evaluating the sustainability of Governance in MSP. The 8 criteria are listed below: 

  1. Cooperative action (in a transboundary regional context)
  2. Functional coherence (across boundaries and borders)
  3. Inter-sectoral cooperation
  4. Organizational coordination
  5. Representativeness
  6. Deliberation
  7. Knowledge comprehensiveness 
  8. Acknowledging uncertainty


The output of the study and 8 proposed criteria could be applied across all sea basins and all governance mechanisms to guide MSP.

Costs / Funding Source:

This work resulted from the BONUS BALTSPACE project and was supported by BONUS (Art 185), funded jointly by the EU and Swedish Research Council FORMAS, National Centre for Research and Development Poland, Forschungszentrum Jülich Beteiligungsgesellschaft GmbH

Contact person:

Fred Saunders 

Södertörn University

School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies

Sweden (fred[dot]saunders[at]sh[dot]se)

+46 8 608 49 66