Indicators and Evaluation of Marine Spatial Plans

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Despite the effort it requires, designing a plan is only an early step in creating change. Establishing monitoring and evaluation plans is essential to any successful plan. The process of designing the right indicators, allocating funding, staff, and time, and identifying who should conduct the evaluation are all vital to understanding the impact of the planning effort.

Indicators enable leaders, decision makers, and stakeholders to see that the plan is working and helps monitor progress toward specific objectives. Indicators allow management teams to assess how a system—natural, cultural, economic—is functioning, by looking at small components. Careful consideration in selecting indicators is required due to their influence on the planning process.

This week, we suggest two reports on monitoring and evaluation; the first from the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, is a best-practices document for creating indicators, available here. This report shares lessons learned from dozens of resource managers tasked with writing indicators for their management plans.

The second, from UNESCO, examines the larger picture of measuring success in marine planning efforts. This report is available here