Column by Thomas Johansson

I sometimes think of a maritime spatial plan in the same way that I thought, in a former job, of forestry plans – as long-term decisions on how to use and protect the grounds and their resources. That is what a maritime spatial plan does.

However, maritime spatial plans are more complex because, as a single forest owner, I could make decisions by myself. In contrast, at sea, so many different parties must co-operate and share the resource, ranging from local beach-goers to global shipping companies to the microalgae producing our oxygen. As a result of this complexity, it is important to have a Nordic (or even larger) perspective on mari­time planning.

In the actual process of making a maritime plan, it is equally important to collaborate and ensure participation.

Maritime spatial planning is about creating the future we want. We must undertake it, perhaps not as a common workload, but indeed with a common understanding of our plans because of the sea that we hold in common.

Do we share the same vision of the future we want? Yes, I believe we do. Maybe it differs in the details, but it is clear that we all want to have a secure, socially harmonious, environmentally safe and economically prosperous future.

Making plans that impact on the use of our sea is an important way to prepare for this future.

There is a great deal happening in maritime spatial planning today. All EU member states with sea territories are preparing plans. The UN has a great interest in ensuring that planning governing the global seas is for everyone’s benefit. In Sweden, nationwide consultations on plan proposals will be launched in February 2018. Numerous projects, including SmartSea, BalticLINes, SimCelt, NorthSEE, and MARSPLAN-Black Sea, are already improving the conditions for planning. The current results and lessons from one of those projects - the Baltic SCOPE can be read in the article entitled Creating the future we want – How “our” six countries accelerated Maritime Spatial Planning for the Baltic Sea.

An excellent place for keeping track of developments in maritime spatial planning and finding useful tools is the EU MSP Platform.

Finally, I would like to invite you to check out our Inverted Map on our website, where we have invented names for underwater hills and meadows to make the sea-scape more relatable. Our seas and oceans are the basis for all life on earth. Let’s care for them!