Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Evaluation and Monitoring of Transboundary Aspects of Maritime Spatial Planning


Depending on the country, maritime spatial planners operate in different contexts and follow different objectives. Therefore, an evaluation framework for MSP has to be flexible, so that it can be adapted to different contexts. Recognising this need, the Baltic SCOPE project has developed guidance on evaluation and monitoring transboundary MSP. This publication provides methodological guidance by introducing a framework for criteria and indicators to be used in evaluations with a focus on transboundary aspects.

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 transboundary MSP collaboration be evaluated?
  • Which measures can be used to monitor processes and outcomes of transboundary MSP?
  • Which indicators can be used to monitor and evaluate (transboundary) MSP?
  • What is the role of stakeholders in MSP evaluation?
  • How can different policy priorities be taken into account in transboundary contexts?
  • How is cooperation organized in the Baltic Sea monitoring and evaluation process?

Implementation Context

This publication was prepared in the context of the Baltic SCOPE project. Under this project, MSP authorities and regional organisations in the Baltic Sea basin collaborated to better align their maritime spatial plans. Throughout the duration of the project, lasting from April 2015 to March 2017, an evaluation framework was developed. Its goal was to monitor the processes under the transboundary MSP collaboration of the Baltic Scope Member States. The evaluation framework does not present one single standard evaluation protocol, or check list, because the contexts and objectives of the countries participating in the project differ too much. Instead, the framework needs to remain flexible and adaptable to suit different contexts and cases.

Aspects / Objectives

The main purpose of this report is to present the conclusions of the Baltic SCOPE project on how one can evaluate the transboundary/cross-border collaboration on MSP. Evaluation of MSP does not only concentrate on measuring the performance of the involved MSP authorities, but also assesses the general conditions given for the collaboration.

The evaluation framework is designed to give guidance to countries or stakeholders that evaluate the processes. It presents an approach and suggestions for evaluation, but does not put forward one particular method that should be used. Rather, the framework tries to adopt a flexible an adaptable approach. In addition to ex-post evaluations, the framework could also be used for designing effective planning processes. The overall objective of the evaluation framework that is to support learning ways to address transboundary aspects of MSP. 


Throughout the Baltic SCOPE project, the participants tried to identify factors that influence the success of transboundary collaboration. To be able to assess the results of the efforts, literature reviews were conducted and data was through observations and interviews. In a first step, the report explains the rationale for conducting evaluations and monitoring, focussing on MSP evaluation and particularly on transboundary collaboration processes. Secondly, the publication presents a generic methodology, important considerations, pertinent theories and relevant indicators that help professionals to evaluate the transboundary elements of MSP.

Main Outputs / Results

When launching an evaluation of transboundary collaboration on MSP, the following elements should be taken into consideration:

  • Co-evolutionary evaluation is a suitable approach to be applied in complex situations such as addressing transboundary collaboration in MSP.
  • Evaluation would benefit from taking a theory-based approach, constructed with the help of theories of change.
  • Evaluation should focus on both process and impacts.
  • Evaluation should take place from early stages of transboundary collaboration – preferably from the very beginning.

To conduct a systematic evaluation, the framework provides a set of criteria and a list of indicators, covering the whole process of transboundary collaboration. The proposed indicators are structured around five categories:

  • General conditions given to transboundary collaboration.
  • Preparation of jointly identified planning options.
  • Implementation of transboundary agreements (in national plans)
  • Follow up and review.
  • Cross cutting themes essential to all steps of MSP collaboration (participation and communication).

Several issues need to be addressed during the organisation of the evaluation. An annex of the report presents a step-by-step approach to assist authorities in evaluation.

  • Scope: What is going to be evaluated and when? The evaluation should take place within certain limits (institutional, temporal, sectoral and geographical dimensions) and consider the expected usage of the evaluation results.
  • Resources: The resources available for evaluations should not be the only factor defining the scope methodology. The key question for organising evaluations is to define the expected usage of the results. The resources should be allocated accordingly.
  • Stakeholders: Their knowledge and information is a resource for the evaluation. Stakeholders should have the opportunity to comment on the findings, ensuring ownership of the evaluation results.


The methodology of the report puts emphasis on the transboundary MSP processes and draws its findings from the specific experiences of the participants of the Baltic SCOPE project. Nonetheless, the evaluation framework can also provide useful advice to transboundary collaboration in other sea basin. At the same time, it may also be useful to the evaluation of national MSP, if some adjustments are made to the framework.

Further work on monitoring and evaluation will be pursued as part of the Pan Baltic Scope project.

Responsible Entity 

Baltic SCOPE project, with lead by SYKE - Finnish Environment Institute

Costs / Funding Source

This report was published under the Baltic SCOPE project, which was funded with €2.6 million under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

Contact person

Author: Riku Varjopuro (SYKE - Finnish Environment Institute)