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Governance analysis framework


The governance analysis framework provides a systematic and structured approach to analysing governance in MSP, by ‘deconstructing’, governance into different incentive categories and examining the effectiveness of different, governance approaches in addressing the key thematic issues or challenges encountered in existing, initiatives with spatial elements

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

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What steps can I take to analyse the governance aspect in my MSP process?
  • How can I use the governance framework together with the overall MESMA evaluation framework / toolbox for my MSP

Implementation Context

The need to develop cross‐sectoral and integrated governance is a key challenge in developing and implementing MSP. Analysing governance, and evaluating the effectiveness of governance systems, is therefore an essential part in the evaluation of spatial management.

Aspects / Objectives

  • Developing and testing a method for analysing and evaluating governance of on‐going spatial planning initiatives.
  • Carry out empirical research on the governance of the MESMA case studies, which aimed to gather and synthesise new insights on emerging marine spatial planning across Europe.


The framework is based on previous work carried out by UCL researchers on analysing the governance of marine protected areas, adapted in order to apply it to marine spatial planning initiatives with a range of different objectives (including socio‐economic rather than environmental objectives)

Main Outputs / Results

The report elaborates the developed framework.  The framework is built up as follows:

  • Context –The socio‐economic and political context of the initiative being analysed, as well as some basic information about the initiative itself (who is involved, its location & scale, its history).
  • Objectives and management measures – The key priority objective which the analysis is focused on, which should be the ‐ or one of the ‐ key objective(s) of the initiative itself, as well as existing policies, laws, plans or regulations that facilitate the achievement of the priority objective.
  • Conflicts –The conflicts generated by the implementation of the above measures, and the driving forces behind those conflicts.
  • Governance approach and effectiveness – The overall governance approach adopted in the initiative (top‐down, bottom‐up, or market‐led), and its effectiveness in achieving the priority objective.
  • Incentives – A description of economic, legal, knowledge, interpretative, and participative incentives employed within the initiative in order to achieve the priority objective (a list of possible incentives is supplied within the framework, derived from previous empirical work carried out on MPA initiatives).
  • Cross‐cutting themes – A discussion of the combination of top‐down and bottom‐up approaches, inter‐sectoral integration, cross‐border issues, environmental and social justice issues, and the influence of uncertainty in decision‐making.


  • The governance analysis framework can be used independently (as a way to deconstruct and analyse governance within a marine spatial planning process)
  • The framework is about evaluating different aspects of an existing marine spatial planning initiative. If such a plan is not in place, it can be used for existing initiatives with spatial elements (e.g. sectoral management plan with spatial restrictions) which may be linked or offer valuable lessons to the future development of an integrated marine spatial plan.

Responsible Entity

MESMA project

Costs / Funding Source

The practice was elaborated under the MESMA project co financed by EU 7th Framework Programme for Research. Direct costs of its elaboration are unknown. 

Contact Person

Luc van Hoof