Aspects of marine spatial planning and governance: adapting to the transboundary nature and the special conditions of the sea


  • Marilena Papageorgiou Department of Planning and Regional Development, University of Thessaly, Volos 38334, Greece
  • Stella Kyvelou Department of Economics and Regional Development, School of Sciences of Economics and Public Administration, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens



marine governance, Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), transboundary MSP


Extension of spatial planning from land to the marine space has recently become a key procedure for tackling the growing environmental and blue growth related challenges. However, given the transboundary nature of the sea (facilitating the flow of all kinds of materials and calling for special considerations in terms of resource and ecosystem management) not all the philosophy, planning models and procedures can be “transplanted” from terrestrial to marine spatial planning. Governance issues are subject to the same limitation.This paper discusses key differences in the marine environment (compared to the land), which affect marine spatial planning and governance and is structured around the following key issues: (i) the public status of the sea, which involves a wide spectrum of stakeholders (amongthem the maritime regimes), (ii) the sovereign rights in the sea that are not separately defined by each state but by UNCLOS (especially beyond the territorial waters), (iii) the geopolitical constraints on proclaiming EEZs that reduce the area within which each coastal country can practice MSP, (iv) the usually non-defined administrative limits in the marine parts of a coastal country that impede decentralization of competencies and decision making, and (v) the lack of geospatial and socio-economic and cultural data, which creates uncertainty both for the planners and decision-makers.This article concludes by highlighting the need for adopting a tailor-made MSP research agenda and by stressing the need to enhance crossborder cooperation as well as to make transboundary considerations when planning in the sea.