Expert knowledge-based co-development of scenarios for maritime spatial planning in the Northeast Atlantic

Calado, H., Pegorelli, C., Vergílio, M., Hipólito, C., Campos, A., Moniz, F., Costa, A.C., Pereira da Silva, C., Fonseca, C., Frazão Santos, C., Gabriel, D., Guerreiro, J., Gil, A., Johnson, D., Ng, K., Monwar, M.M., Ventura, M.A., Suárez-de Vivero, J.L., Pinho, M., Borges, P., Caña-Varona, M. & Papaioannou, E.A. (2021) Expert knowledge-based co-development of scenarios for maritime spatial planning in the Northeast Atlantic.

Marine Policy, 133, 104741. DOI:10.1016/j.marpol.2021.104741 (IF2021 4,315; Q1 Environmental Studies)
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  • Aug, 2021


Scenarios constitute narratives or storylines that reasonably describe how the future is likely to unfold. The usefulness of scenarios in Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is now recognised within policy and research, with many institutions urging the development of likely trajectories in the future state of the marine environment and space. However, little progress exists in the actual development and application of actual scenario building approaches. This paper presents the methodology and results of such an approach developed within the framework of the “Geographical and Political Scenarios in Maritime Spatial Planning for the Azores and North Atlantic (GPS Azores)” project. A scenario-building approach for MSP in the area is developed and future scenarios’ storylines are formulated through the active engagement of regional experts. Outcomes from the analysis enable identifying the major risks and opportunities in the management and use of marine space and key maritime sectors, under different scenarios. Three storylines are developed representing distinct trajectories in the use and governance of marine space: (i) Nature at Work; (ii) Business-as-usual; and (iii) Blue Development. Final storylines are the outcome of intense experts’ engagement throughout the scenario-building exercise, stressing the usefulness of such participative approaches. Results can assist policymakers in the context of an adaptive and participatory MSP approach. The methodology can be tailored to other regions, while results can be revisited and adapted as new information and knowledge emerge.