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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement28 November 2022Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries3 min read

The European Commission and IOC-UNESCO renew their joint efforts to advance marine spatial planning globally

Windmills and fishing ship © Kruwt / Adobe Stock
Windmills and fishing vessel © Kruwt / Adobe Stock

The European Commission and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO launched the “Updated Joint Roadmap to accelerate Maritime Spatial Planning processes worldwide 2022-2027 at the 3rd International Conference on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in Barcelona, Spain. The EU will support the initiative’s implementation with a budget of €1 million in 2023. The initiative will help better manage ocean and coastal areas.

After five years of long-standing collaboration, this updated joint roadmap will broaden the scope of the work of both institutions: it will support knowledge, capacity development, awareness raising and transboundary cooperation in the MSP domain.

The Updated Joint Roadmap 2022-2027 sets the course of action for the next five years. It identifies the work priorities that will help accelerate maritime spatial planning worldwide. It focuses on six areas

  • Knowledge support
  • Capacity development and awareness
  • Transboundary cooperation
  • Climate-smart MSP
  • Marine protection and restoration
  • Sustainable blue economy


The MSPForum, a platform for discussion and exchange

One of the actions of the joint roadmap adopted by the Commission and IOC-UNESCO in 2017 was establishing the MSPforum. The main goal of this forum is to create an international platform for discussion and exchange, offering concrete examples and guidelines on applying maritime spatial planning.

On 21 November 2022, the fifth edition of the MSPforum took place in Barcelona. Representatives from international, Spanish and local authorities opened the forum by highlighting the importance of cooperation in transboundary MSP and a sustainable blue economy.

The MSPforum will continue supporting all the involved actors in implementing MSP worldwide.

The global impact of maritime spatial planning

Many activities take place at sea. Every day, fishing, aquaculture, shipping, renewable energy, nature conservation, and other uses compete for maritime space. Maritime spatial planning is the primary tool to manage and coordinate marine space and ensure that human activities at sea occur in an efficient, safe and sustainable way.

The communication on a new approach for a sustainable blue economy in the EU, adopted by the Commission in May 2021, puts maritime spatial planning at the heart of the sustainable development of the blue economy in Europe.

From a global perspective, accelerating MSP is among the goals of the UN ‘Ocean Decade’ to help better manage ocean and coastal areas.

Maritime spatial planning can effectively implement global ocean governance goals, particularly the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It can ensure that the ocean remains healthy and sustainably managed while delivering economic growth, jobs and well-being to all.

Maritime spatial planning in EU

The MSP Directive, adopted in 2014, requires the 22 coastal Member States to produce maritime spatial plans for the marine waters under their jurisdiction. Since 2014, the Commission has acted and set up several initiatives to support maritime spatial planning in the EU: a Member States expert group, technical assistance and cross-border projects. All these actions have enabled Member States to make significant progress in cross-border consultation and cooperation, information, and data sharing for and on maritime spatial plans, or increased coherence at the sea basin level. The 2021-2027 European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund will continue to support these actions.


The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) promotes international cooperation in marine sciences to improve the management of the ocean, coasts, and marine resources. The IOC enables its 150 Member States to work together by coordinating programmes in capacity development, ocean observations and services, ocean science and tsunami warning. The work of the IOC contributes to the mission of UNESCO to promote the advancement of science and its applications to develop knowledge and capacity, the key to economic and social progress, the basis of peace and sustainable development. Since 2006, IOC-UNESCO has developed technical guidance on maritime spatial planning supported by related capacity development actions in all ocean basins.


Publication date
28 November 2022
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries