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Governance baselines


The governance baselines approach originally visualises "how the govenrance system in a specific place has responded, or failed to respond the trajectory of ecosystem change [...]. In BALTSPACE, this approach will be adapted to fit the specific requirements of MSP in a transnational setting."

Application in MSP:
Type of practice:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • How did the institutional context in which MSP is implemented emerge?
  • How have MSP related institutions (governance mechanisms and sectors) evolved over time?
  • How have MSP approaches in general or specific MSP areas responded to ecosystem change?

Implementation Context

The approach was originally developed by Olsen et al (2009) to examine how governance systems respond – or fail to respond - to ecosystem changes.  It has already been successfully applied to document and understand the organisational and institutional history of transnational cooperation. In the context of BALTSPACE project, the approach is used to analyse the emergence and evolution of governance systems and sectors in relation to MSP in a transnational setting. The method will be applied in conjunction with the Bow-tie approach: analysed risks and policy gaps may feed into a governance baseline while information from here may support the Bow-tie analysis.

Aspects / Objectives

The aim of this approach is to better understand the emergence and evolution of the institutional context in which MSP is implemented over time and at different scales:

  • Offshore wind energy sector
  • Environmental institutions
  • German MSP
  • Development of transnational MSP cooperation in the Baltic


Development trajectory of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation (\"BALTSPACE - Governance baselines\", 2016)

The Governance baseline is developed in collaboration with stakeholders and it entails the following steps:

  • Defining the focus area (e.g. a marine planning area)
  • Identifying drivers and responses to ecosystem change
  • Developing a timeline of events and expressions of environmental and societal change over the last fifty to one hundred years
  • Identification of long-term trends in the condition and use of ecosystem goods and services
  • Identification of governance eras

Normally, the Governance baseline is developed in collaboration with stakeholders and has two parts: a) documentation and analysis of past governance responses to ecosystem change, b) outline of a strategic approach to address management issues of a defined area.

Main Outputs / Results

The on-going approach can produce a variety of outputs including generalised timelines of governance for a regional sea. More specifically it can highlight developing trajectories of organizations involved in governance during e.g. a MSP cycle. In the context of BALTSPACE, Governance baselines are developed for the MSP related institutions mentioned above. It encourages a long-term perspective and a holistic, ecosystem-based approach.

The practice may use synergies with other approaches. Governance baselines could, e.g. support Open Standards (OS) or Bow-tie by bringing in new background information or evolutionary perspectives.


The method will be further developed and applied in the context of BALTSPACE. It is not sea basin or process specific and produces generalised governance timelines for a regional sea. It can thus be transferred to any MSP process.


Contact Person

Andreas Kannen

Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (andreas[dot]kannen[at]hzg[dot]de)

+49 4152 87-1874

Responsible Entity

Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht

Costs / Funding Source

Costs: unknown

Funding Source: BONUS (EU 7th Programme for research, technological development and demonstration; Baltic Sea national funding institutions)