Evaluation of Marine Spatial Planning: Valuing the Process, Knowing the Impacts


This chapter applies commonly used approaches in the evaluation of policies and spatial planning on land to the MSP. The emphasis of the chapter is on trying to know the effectiveness of MSP, which brings with its critical perspectives on MSP’s ability to deliver its objectives. The effectiveness of MSP is largely dependent also on the processes of preparing and implementing MSP. Therefore, characteristics of the process need to be addressed as well.

Sea Basin(s): 
January 2019
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Economic aspects
Environment aspects
Social aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • What is the purpose of MSP evaluation?
  • How to organise and manage MSP evaluation processes?
  • How to identify and isolate MSP effects ad impact from other maritime activities?
  • What are the outputs of a theory-based evaluation approach?

Implementation Context:

This study is a contribution to the book Maritime Spatial Planning - past, present, future edited in 2019.

Aspects / Objectives:

The article aims to provide insights on MSP assessment implementing methodology usually used for the evaluation of spatial planning policies on land.


The chapter starts by presenting approaches and concepts of evaluation of policies and spatial plans. This is followed by a presentation of the progress gained in evaluation of MSP.

This paper is based on the outputs of the Baltic SCOPE project.

Main Outputs / Results:

This article allows to shed light on the evaluation of MSP impacts and effects. It highlights how the MSP preparation and implementation process influence largely the effectiveness of the policy. It also offers an alternative to Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).


This practice is transferable to any MSP process.

Responsible Entity:

Marine Research Centre, Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland

Funding Source:

Marine Research Centre, Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland

Contact person:

R. Varjopuro: riku.varjopuro@ymparisto.fi