Threats to the Baltic Sea marine environment and natural resources posed by disparate activities such as overfishing, shipping, and wind parks have led to an increased understanding of the need of a refined approach to integrated marine spatial planning (MSP). As a result, MSP initiatives are being pursued in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) not only by governments, but by various international, national and local stakeholder groups as well. As much as there is normative agreement on the need for MSP from a sustainability and public policy perspective, there is still considerable debate on how to best resolve questions of competing use, pro-actively and equitably.
In this project we address this debate by focussing on possibilities for integration across scales, sectors and knowledges in MSP, which has been found to be a key area of concern in recent studies. However, there is a lack of critical analysis of MSP integration possibilities and challenges at national, cross-border and pan-Baltic levels.
In response to this research gap this interdisciplinary project aims to generate an improved understanding on what promotes and restricts integration in various MSP contexts in the BSR. More precisely, we focus on three particular aspects of integration:
a) Scale integration: How complex vertical integration plays out between governmental authorities and stakeholder groups as guided, influenced and regulated under e.g. EU directives, regional agreements and national regulations.
b) Sector integration: To what extent sector borders within e.g. ministries, committees and working groups, and between public authorities or stakeholder groups, constrain horizontal integration.
c) Knowledge integration: To what extent the Ecosystem Approach to Management (EAM) is adopted as a vehicle to improve integration in most recent MSP initiatives.
We will address these research topics by developing an interdisciplinary analytical framework and, subsequently, undertaking an in-depth case study of the Pomeranian Bight and Arkona Basin Area. The most important outcomes of this project will be (a) a deepened understanding of how increased integration in Baltic Sea MSP may increase effectiveness and efficiency in management but also lead to unexpected side effects regarding centralized decision-making and reduced equity, and (b) how this enriched understanding could translate into suggestions on how to improve existing MSP institutional processes in the Baltic Sea.