Marine spatial planning integrates the planning of multiple sectors and interests to support public negotiation and decision making regarding sustainable resource use. Marine spatial planning is integrated and holistic, which are important features of governance required to address competing demands of growing and diversifying maritime economies within social and ecological limits. Marine spatial planning presents an opportunity to reflect on the currently fragmented governance of marine activities, and could provide a focus for improving management and supporting the sustainable development of sectors such as offshore energy, alongside other interests. The implementation of marine spatial planning is highly context-specific, and this chapter outlines some of the main challenges faced, and how these can be approached to improve governance. Conceptual and practical challenges exist in: (a) understanding the respective roles of government, industry and civil society in marine spatial planning; (b) reaching consensus on the purpose of marine spatial planning (including its definition and ‘operationalising’ concepts such as ‘sustainability’ and ‘ecosystem-based management’); (c) understanding how marine spatial planning relates to existing governance structures of decision making and management of individual activities; (d) how to evaluate the effectiveness of marine spatial planning and enable on-going improvements through adaptive management; and (e) how to ensure the knowledge and capacity to support the process. While the influence of marine spatial planning on existing decision-making processes depends on the characteristics of each case, we suggest that the integrated perspective of marine spatial planning and dialogue among participants it supports can enable changes in related governance. Considering the issues, proactively and collaboratively engaging through dynamic and adaptive processes could facilitate change, reduce existing complexity, and support progress towards ‘sustainability’ in marine resource use.
This is a book chapter in Offshore Energy and Marine Spatial Planning.