Global MSP indicator proposed for United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2015, the United Nations adopted a post-2015 development agenda focused on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and associated targets. These SDGs aim to improve development and put all countries, wealthy and poor, on a pathway to sustainability by 2030. The goals and their targets are laid out in the “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" report (

To speed the process of measuring achievement of the SDGs, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) – a UN initiative to harness expertise from academia, civil society, and industry – has offered an outline of a comprehensive indicator framework supporting the goals and targets. For the target to “conserve at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas” by 2020 (Goal 14, Target 5), the SDSN has proposed two indicators: 1) share of coastal and marine areas that are protected and 2) an indicator to be developed on the implementation of spatial planning strategies for coastal and marine areas. Marine spatial planning is defined in this case as “a strategy to distribute (spatially and temporally) human activities in coastal and marine areas in order to guarantee those ecological, social and economic objectives that are decided through a public and political process.”

The UN’s Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators is currently working to define a final SDG indicator framework. Read more about the SDSN proposed indicator framework at

World Ocean Assessment warns world oceans at or past carrying capacity

The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment, or “World Ocean Assessment”, steered by a United Nations (UN) Group of Experts of the Regular Process, was presented to the UN in September 2015 to help guide its decisions on oceans. The assessment marks one of the first times current knowledge of the biological, chemical, economic, physical, and social aspects of the oceans have been fully integrated. The Group of Experts found that many parts of the world’s oceans are seriously degraded from threats such as climate change, ocean acidification, land-based activities, unsustainable fishing practices, invasive non-native species, and marine debris. The report concluded that “the world has reached the end of the period when human impacts on the sea [are] minor in relation to the overall scale of the ocean. Human activities now have so many and such great impacts on the ocean that the limits of its carrying capacity are being (or, in some cases, have been) reached.” The full assessment can be found at

Call for input on global ocean governance reform

The Global Governance Reform Initiative, a project of The Hague Institute’s Global Governance Program, is developing policies for improving global governance of the oceans. It is soliciting applications from academics, policymakers, and practitioners from diverse sectors and regions of the world to present their research at an expenses-paid policy workshop in the Netherlands in March-April 2016. The project will provide participants with opportunities for networking with international ocean governance experts and having their research published and disseminated to relevant policymakers. The deadline for applications is 16 October 2015. Learn more about the application process at

Call for input on marine spatial planners’ needs for responding to climate change

Climate-informed coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) integrates the full suite of climatic changes and effects into planning for resilient coastal and marine environments. EcoAdapt, a US-based NGO, is requesting input from CMSP professionals on their needs for preparing for and responding to multiple stressors including climate change. This input will inform guidelines, case study examples, and an online decision-support toolkit on how, when, and where to integrate climate changes and impacts into CMSP. Respond to the survey at​.

US state of Connecticut passes MSP legislation

A law establishing a process for marine spatial planning for Long Island Sound in the northeastern US took effect in the US state of Connecticut in July. Under the “Blue Plan,” Connecticut will develop an inventory of Long Island Sound’s natural resources and uses and a spatial plan to guide future use of its waters and submerged lands. The plan is intended to protect natural resources and uses, such as fishing, aquaculture and navigation, from future conflicting or incompatible activities. The plan will not specify “use zones” for the entire sound but could establish priority use areas such as utility corridors or shellfish beds, and identify critical areas in need of greater protection and management of uses. Development and implementation of the Blue Plan will be coordinated with the state of New York and with relevant local, regional, and federal planning entities and agencies. Learn more at

Blue New Deal seeks to spur innovative and sustainable coastal management in UK

The UK think tank New Economics Foundation has launched an initiative, the Blue New Deal, to bring together a range of economic sectors, organizations, and individuals to develop an action plan to “deliver stronger economies for UK coastal communities through a healthier marine environment.” The Blue New Deal is currently focused on five policy areas: sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, renewable energy, coastal tourism and related activities, innovative approaches to coastal management, and opportunities to re-connect people with nature. A web portal and initial report highlight examples of innovative and sustainable approaches, with the goal of making these approaches the norm rather than the exception. These approaches range from investment in renewable energy to innovative management of coastal environments, and are already happening around the UK coast. Learn more about the Blue New Deal at and

Ecosystem services framework used to develop draft management plan for Belize

A recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (“Embedding ecosystem services in coastal planning leads to better outcomes for people and nature”) describes the use of iterative modeling and stakeholder engagement to develop a management plan for Belize. This is among the first examples of a coastal and marine planning process that has used an ecosystem-services framework to understand how human activities affect the flow of benefits, create scenarios, and design a management plan. Modeling results suggest that the preferred plan will lead to greater returns from coastal protection and tourism than outcomes from scenarios oriented toward achieving either conservation or development goals. Modeling results also suggest that the preferred plan will improve coastal protection by more than 25% and more than double revenue from fishing compared with plans based on stakeholder preferences alone. The management plan is currently under formal consideration for adoption by the Belizean government. Read the article for free at

Model predicts global redistribution of marine biodiversity

A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change (“Climate velocity and the future global redistribution of marine biodiversity”) projects the range shift of nearly 13,000 marine species using a model based on climate velocity trajectories, thermal tolerances, and habitat preferences. Researchers found that ocean warming will increase biodiversity in most parts of the ocean — and homogenize world ocean communities —due to new species entering communities before others leave. But in other regions with many species with restricted ranges, such as the Coral Triangle, ocean warming will lead to less diverse ecological communities due to species extinctions. Widespread redistribution of marine biodiversity is likely to accompany any increase in global temperature, regardless of magnitude, and these changes will have major significance for ecosystems management. The article is available for a fee at