News 3 March 2021

5 questions for Jane Turpie…

… Researcher at the University of Cape Town and involved in the international network Environment for Development, which February 25 presented a study on poverty and gender equality in marine spatial planning (MSP). The study was commissioned by SwAM Ocean; the program for international development cooperation at the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.

Jane Turpie, Researcher at the University of Cape Town

Jane Turpie, Researcher at the University of Cape Town

Tell us briefly about yourself!

“I am a Senior Research Fellow at the Environmental Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town. EPRU is the South African centre of the Sida-funded Environment for Development Initiative which is managed out of Gothenburg University.”

Tell us, in short, what this study is about.

“Marine Spatial Planning has grown in momentum internationally over the past couple of decades, and is now gaining traction in developing countries. It is designed to be a participatory spatial planning approach that can bring about sustainable development of the “blue economy” while minimising user conflict and environmental impacts. Furthermore, as a large-scale planning process, it could potentially contribute towards countries fulfilments of their Sustainable Development Goals. However, there are concerns based on the experiences so far, that as a centrally-driven process that distributes power and influence, MSP could favour stakeholders that are resource strong and influential.”

“Critics argue that the process has often fallen short in terms of inclusivity, and is being misused by powerful actors to reach sectoral rather than collective goals. In developing countries in particular, the process is at risk of being compromised by lack of data, unequal access to information, unequal distribution of power, and the like. SwAM commissioned this study to see what could be done to ensure that MSP can make a positive difference in terms of poverty alleviation and gender equality. These two perspectives is still largely unexplored in regards of MSP and our study is attempting to start filling that gap. ”

What are your results so far?

“We have reviewed the experiences and discussions on the social sustainability of the MSP process, and the way in which marginalised groups could be overlooked. It is clear that the success of MSP will hinge on its being sustainable in social as well as economic and environmental dimensions. Although there will never be total consensus of course, following the principles of social sustainability will help to ensure that people from all walks of society will contribute to, understand, accept and support the process and outcomes of MSP, and hence contribute to its likely success. This requires that there is adequate recognition of all the types of values, costs and benefits associated with activities in the marine environment, that there is adequate representation of different types of stakeholders in the process, and that the distributional outcomes are acceptable, especially in the long term.”

“We have devised a set of steps that would have to be included in the process in order to ensure this, and the beginnings of a Social Sustainability checklist and scorecard with which to plan and evaluate the process. Next, we have considered the way in which the potential and eventual social impacts of MSP might be measured against some baseline."

How will the study/results from the study be used in practice?

“We hope that the sustainability steps and the social criteria for inclusion in the process can be incorporated into international and national guidelines for MSP, as these guidelines are evolving over time. The social sustainability checklist and scorecard will be a useful tool for planning and evaluation of MSP.”

What is the next step?

“Starting 2021, we plan to further develop and pilot our methods in case studies in two developing countries in the Western Indian Ocean region. The details of our approach are still to be worked out, particularly the data collection methods and the computation of the metrics for evaluating impacts.”

Read more about our work on Marine planning.

Published: 2021-03-03