The marine spatial planning process

Marine spatial planning is a recurring process that runs in cycles over several years. Through a number of steps, marine spatial planning goes from collecting information and analyzing the current situation, trends and goals to decisions on spatial and temporal conditions regarding the use of Sweden’s marine areas. 

The marine spatial plans are the result of the planning process and are adopted by the Government. Thereafter, the plans are applied by guiding authorities and municipalities when planning and in licensing processes for the use of marine areas. The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management will follow up on the plans and develop new plan proposals when necessary, or at least every eight years. Based on the follow-up, the need to develop new plans can be assessed. Continuous work is required to collect and evaluate new knowledge in order to be able to use it in future marine spatial plans.

Figure illustrates the cyclical process of marine spatial planning, which begins with the development of a plan proposal that is consulted and reviewed. The Government adopts the plans, which then are applied. Then they are followed up and the need for new plans is examined, if necessary new plan proposals are drawn up and the process starts again.

The cyclical marine spatial planning process. The circle to the right illustrates the process of developing and impact assessing marine spatial plans. The circle to the left illustrates the process of applying and following up marine spatial plans. When there is a need to develop new plan proposals, the process continues again into the right circle. Illustration produced by SwAM. Illustration concept from Process for Comprehensive Planning and Strategic Environmental Assessment of the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning published at Kunskapsbanken.

The marine spatial planning process includes continuous work with method and knowledge development as well as national and international collaboration. This includes development and collaboration on planning evidence, digitalization and presentation of marine spatial plans to make it as accessible and appropriate as possible.

The marine spatial planning process is designed for collaboration between different stakeholders and enables those affected to participate in different ways. It contributes to an open process and to enable the marine spatial plans to be designed as appropriately as possible. It can also inform other processes. Read more under the headings: