Note: This guide builds on information on marine spatial planning (MSP) available in the IOC Guide to Marine Spatial Planning published by UNESCO and available on-line at: http://www.unesco-ioc-marinesp.be
Who should use this guide?
This guide on evaluating marine spatial plans is intended for practitioners responsible for planning and managing marine areas. Practitioners are the managers and stakeholders who are responsible for designing, planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating marine management plans. While its focus is on the performance monitoring and evaluation of MSP, planners and managers should know how to incorporate monitoring and evaluation considerations into the MSP process from its very beginning, and not wait until a plan is completed before thinking about how to measure “success”. Effective performance monitoring and evaluation is only possible when management objectives and expected outcomes are written in a way that is measurable, either quantitatively or qualitatively.
Who are “marine spatial planners and managers”?
In addition to planning professional responsible for integrated marine plans, many sectoral managers and institutions with sectoral values and interests manage marine and coastal areas including:
- Fishery managers
- Marine and coastal aquaculture managers
- Marine transport managers
- Offshore oil and gas managers
- Offshore renewable energy managers
- Coastal land use managers
- Water quality managers
- Marine tourism and recreation managers
- Cultural and natural heritage managers
- Marine and coastal protected area managers
Since a single “marine manager” or integrated management institution rarely exists in a marine region, it’s important to involve these sectoral managers and their interests in the MSP process.
What should you know after using and reading this guide to evaluating marine spatial plans?
The importance of considering evaluation at the beginning of the MSP process and not as an afterthought;
The importance of setting clear and specific objectives;
That outcomes represent the most important result of planning. You should stay focused on what ultimately matters—the effects of management actions in the plan on people and the marine environment;
The significance of developing a limited number of sound indicators with targets as these are the keys to knowing when you are making measurable progress toward desired results;
The need to collect baseline values for the indicators. It is difficult to determine what has been accomplished in 3-10 years if you don’t know where you were when you began; and,
That the results framework with indicators, targets and baselines should be linked to a monitoring and evaluation plan. Make sure reporting and evaluation requirements are aligned with the overall monitoring and evaluation system.
If you only have time to read one background document for a general introduction to evaluation, have a look at Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation (Conservation Measures Partnership 2013) available at: www.conservationmeasures.org.