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Strategic scenarios for the use of the sea


Four scenarios were developed in order to arrive at an optimal allowed sea use solution satisfactory to stakeholders and society. The narrative story lines of the scenarios are presented in four maps and a short document respectively.

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 to develop and use scenarios in MSP processes?
  • What are the 4 strategic scenarios for MSP development in Latvia?

Implementation context

Scenario development method is applied in strategic planning and decision making process, when the possible spatial use is dependent from various, often controversial interests and sectorial priorities as it is in the case of the Baltic Sea area under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Latvia. Scenarios are neither predictions nor forecasts, but rather alternative descriptions (stories, projections, figures/pictures) on how the future might unfold by evaluating various factors determining the development.

Aspects / Objectives

The Use of the Sea scenarios are built in order to identify possible maritime spatial development options (alternatives), to perform their strategic assessment and as a result to arrive at an optimal allowed sea use solution that is satisfactory to stakeholders and society.

In the present case the following four scenarios have been developed:

  • Economic growth
  • Social well-being
  • Resilient marine ecosystem
  • Development within common space of Baltic Sea Region


Scenarios provide a picture of distinct development alternatives if one or several development conditions are unfold. In order to ensure the credibility and feasibility of the strategic scenarios of the use of the sea their description (narrative story line and characterising parameters) and spatial solutions (schemes) are constructed by implementing the following scenario-building steps:

1) Analysis of determining factors (driving forces) for development:

  • Socio-economic driving forces for the spatial changes in the use of the sea and related 
development trends
  • Sectorial policy goals and development potentials

2) Consultations with representatives from maritime sectors and different stakeholder groups

3) Assessment on criteria causing constraints for the maritime spatial use (e.g. regulations, natural conditions, spatial connectivity, etc.)

Key socio-economic and environmental indicators have been selected for characterisation and assessing implications of the scenarios. Based on assessment of the development trends in sectorial sea uses and natural processes, as well as taking into account expert opinion, assumptions on a change in trends for selected indicators were outlined for each scenario.


4) SWOT analysis

The strategic assessment of the scenarios by SWOT analysis was carried out during three coastal regional stakeholder workshops.

5) Multi-criteria analysis

The economic, social, environmental, climate and transboundary impacts of scenarios were assessed  semi-quantitatively. The scenarios were assessed against the strategic long-term vision and priorities.  Subsequently, each scenario was assessed against 3-5 criteria for each of the type of impacts (on a scale of -2: significant adverse effects to 2: substantial postive effects). The  transboundary impact assessment was carried out in cooperation with Estonian and Lithuanian spatial  planning experts

Main Outputs / Results

4 scenarios, describing narrative story line and characterising parameters, which were used as an important tool for stakeholder consultation and, subsequently, streamlined to develop an optimal allowed sea use solution acceptable for various stakeholders and society.




Mapping of four scenarios based in relation to the main beneficiaries has been taken place to visualise the possible output.

Scenario Economic Growth

Scenario Social Well-Being

Scenario Resilient marine ecosystem

Scenario Development within a common Baltic Sea space


The methodology can be applied in other MSP processes.

Costs / Funding Source

European Economic Area Financial Mechanism (EEA Grant)

Contact Persons

Anda Ruskule & Kristina Veidemane

Baltic Environmental Forum Latvia

Email: (bef[at]bef[dot]lv)

Phone: +371 6735 7551

Responsible Entity

Ministry of Environmental Projection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia