State of the Environment and Spatial Planning


The marine environment supports a wide range of human uses and activities including fisheries and aquaculture, shipping, mineral resources, energy, tourism, recreation and cultural heritage. There is increasing competition for access to these resources to support both livelihoods and economic development, resulting in conflict and impact on the marine environment.

It is fundamental to marine environmental management that countries have the capability and capacity to measure and monitor the condition and trend of ecosystems in their marine jurisdictions. Undertaking integrated assessments can be expensive and time consuming, but sound information is critical to understand the state of the marine environment (SOME) to underpin decision-making and achieve or maintain ocean health.

Experts from developing countries have identified the lack of capability to undertake SOME reporting as a major gap.  There are experts available with knowledge of their marine environments, but there is a lack of reporting skills among the government agencies responsible for this task.
A cost efficient methodology is based on expert elicitation, essentially a scientific consensus methodology. This is a process that synthesizes existing assessments, data and information in conjunction with the subjective judgment of experts across a broad base of evidence.  The method utilizes the existing knowledge of marine experts from the target region and it can incorporate non-conventional knowledge and information.
Marine spatial planning is a science-based process that brings together stakeholders (including users and managers) to build an understanding of these human uses, resource distribution and natural values, and to explore and develop scenarios for area based resource usage that minimise conflict and improve sustainability.

Main Activities in 2016

  • Expert elicitation method accepted as a cost efficient method for SoE reports to monitor environmental status and progress towards Sustainable Development targets
  • Agreement with the Abidjan Convention Secretariat (West Africa) on a regional programme for national SoME reports, and capacity building using Expert elicitation method in at least one other Regional Sea
  • Supporting developing nations and small island states in negotiating and declaring maritime boundaries, which provide the framework for marine spatial planning;
  • Capacity building for marine spatial planning, mapping and spatial analysis to support sound environmental decision-making, increased understanding of resource exploitation, environmental degradation and ecosystem management
  • Developing maps and spatial data products related to the distribution of marine habitats and ecosystems; and
  • Developing systems to support spatial data sharing and access.
  • Dissemination of the initial results of the marine plastic debris and marine microplastics.