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Proposing an ecosystem services-based framework to assess sustainability impacts of maritime spatial plans (MSP-SA)

Ocean & Coastal Management - Volume 208, 1 July 2021, 105577

Abstract:

This article contributes to the accelerating development of methods for sustainability assessment (SA) to support maritime spatial planning (MSP), by proposing an ecosystem services based framework for SA. MSP is generally seen as an important approach to promote a more sustainable use of sea space. However, so far all sustainability concerns are not equally well represented in planning practise; in particular, social sustainability aspects such as social justice and sociocultural values related to human-nature connectedness receive less attention. We first explored concepts and principles related to sustainability assessment and social sustainability in the scientific literature. Based on this, we analysed how far the present approaches to assessments in Baltic Sea EU Member States have been extended from environmental concerns to towards broader sustainability concerns so far. Using current best practise in two pioneering countries (UK and Sweden), we illustrated how social sustainability principles could match with applied social impact criteria, and further, how such criteria can inform an ecosystem services-based impact assessment framework. Based on existing frameworks, including the DPSIR (driving forces, pressures, state, impact, response) environmental assessment framework and the ecosystem service cascade, we propose a sustainability impact assessment framework for MSP (MSP-SA) integrating across sustainability dimensions and including assessment of distributional aspects of marine ecosystem service benefits. Finally, we discuss the applicability and further development of the framework in relation to present day sustainability assessment practise in MSP.

 

Country:
Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
No
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How far have the present approaches to assessments of MSP in the Baltic Sea EU Member States been extended from environmental concerns to broader sustainability concerns?
  • How is social sustainability considered in coastal and marine spatial planning? 
  • How can social sustainability principles compliment applied social impact criteria?

ImpLementation Context:

This study was carried out following the observation that all sustainability concerns are not equally well represented in the planning process. Social sustainability aspects (such as social justice and socio-cultural values related to human-nature) receive less consideration.

Aspects / Objectives:

The aim of this study is to contribute to the accelerating development of methods for sustainability assessment (SA) to support maritime spatial planning (MSP), by proposing an ecosystem service-based framework for SA.

Method:

First of all, the concepts and principles related to sustainability assessment and social sustainability in the scientific literature were explored, then using the results, an analysis was undertaken on how far the present approaches to assessments in the Baltic Sea EU Member States have been extended from environmental concerns to broader sustainability concerns. Based on best practices in UK and Sweden, it shows how social sustainability principles could match with applied social impact criteria and how these criteria can contribute to an impact assessment framework based on ecosystem services.

Main Outputs / Results:

Highlights

  • MSP needs sustainability assessments that reach across all three dimensions of sustainability.
  • Social sustainability is; so far; under-considered and underdeveloped in coastal and marine spatial planning, both in terms of conceptualisation, data and methods.
  • Ecosystem services and distributional aspects of their derived benefits (and hindrances) can be integrated by linking cascaded ecosystem services analysis with a DPSIR perspective.
  • This framework can be applied both as an analytical tool for ex-ante strategic assessments and to support conceptual structuring of themes and topics among stakeholders.
  • To be workable, and incorporate all social sustainability dimensions including equity, it needs to be coupled with a well-facilitated participation process.

Transferability:

The results of this study can be transferred to other similar situations and offer an ecosystem service-based framework for sustainability assessment. 

Responsible Entity:

Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, Denmark

Contact person:

Pia Frederiksen

Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, Denmark

pfratenvs.au.dk

 

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