Planning in a Liquid world with tropical stakes. Solutions from EU-Afric-Brazil

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Université des Açores

Financeur du programme

programme européen
H2020 - RISE


Marine environments are subject to growing pressures (Halpern et al. 2008) caused by, among others, population growth, seabed exploitation by dredging or mining, fishing, tourism, environmental protection, development of renewable energies among others. At the same time, they are seen as the space for future growth options not only in Europe (Com 2011-782 and Com 2013-279) but also in the southern Atlantic where a shared vision between border states is needed. Following the Galway Statement on Atlantic Cooperation, several events and processes are beginning to be take the Tropical Atlantic into account as a shared resource between the European Union, Africa and Brazil (e.g. The Atlantic – our Shared Resource: Making the Vision Reality. Brussels, 2015, Atlantic Ocean Research Cooperation declaration with Brazil, 2015). The Paddle Consortium will be part of this new transatlantic Partnership to develop a more inclusive Atlantic Community, which is indispensable to protect the Atlantic Basin. The European Union road map, and other relevant documents from marine strategy framework directives are all about the blue economy and maximizing Blue Growth (Com 2012-494). Oceans, seas and their resources are an important part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Sustainably managed oceans can stimulate economic growth and employment, and will allow the international community to meet its global targets, including the reduction of poverty and hunger. As a consequence, new frameworks will be increasingly needed to regulate and optimize the range feasible of uses of marine spaces and resources. Marine ecosystems and maritime economies transcend national boundaries.
As underlies (2009) 536: Communication from the Commission, the Integrated Martitime Policy cannot afford to ignore what is going on beyond Europe's borders and enhancing the role of EU in multilateral forums is particularly important. The Paddle proposal will put EU policy innovation at the heart of the development of tropical marine spatial planning by bringing together researchers and actors from countries bordering the tropical Atlantic and from the European Union to create a network, which will build theory and methods for the sustainable marine spatial planning (MSP) in tropical zones using a collaborative platform.

MSP, which aims to reconcile human uses and conservation, offers an attractive setting to combine different uses of marine resources in a single area (Craig, 2012; Koehn and al, 2013; Ehler, 2014). To cite Agardy (2010), there is a palpable excitement about MSP unlocking the Blue Growth potential of the oceans. MSP is often defined as “a practical way to create and establish a more rational use of marine space and the interactions among its uses to balance demands for development with the need to protect the environment, and to deliver social and economic outcomes in an open and planned way” (Unesco-IOC).
MSP frameworks were first implemented in northern countries in the 2000s. Strong experience has been acquired in Europe, North America and Australia (ref) and the number of scientific publications on this topic has significantly increased since 2008.. There are also a lot of ongoing research project on MSP in Europe (ref) and World Wide (ref). However, as yet, very few southern countries are concerned by MSP either in the literature (figure 2) or in on-going research project even though exploitation of marine resources is particularly challenging (Sale et al., 2014).  Moreover, since July 2014, Each Member State shall establish and implement maritime spatial planning (Directive 2014/89/EU). Several European countries including Portugal have already adopted binding texts on marine spatial planning (Ferreira et al., 2015). But two important questions remain open: How MSP will end up being used? Is MSP about ensuring that ocean use is ecologically and socially sustainable or more about motivating as many uses as possible? MSP is a very active research field because, while providing a powerful vision of ocean management, it is not clear yet if it can account for several critical features.
First, existing MSP approaches do not yet incorporate a series of complex challenges such as ecological improbability, non-territorialised approaches and globalised society, which are crucial in coastal and marine environments (Wolff, 2015; Leenhardt and al, 2015, Maes, 2008, Bennett et al., 2015). Spatial planning processes are designed for specific areas, whereas social and natural dynamics have no borders. Multinational firms have both regional global and regional strategies, and the environmental impacts of their activities can be observed all over the world.
Second, after early implementation in northern countries, MSP is now spreading to tropical environments (Abidjan Agreement, African Union, etc.) as part of a wider process that aims at organizing the exploitation of marine environments and at designing modern forms of governance in those regions. Governments are in the process of preparing the first policy documents for the conciliation of resources exploitation and environmental protection (Marine strategy in Cabo-Verde, Brazilian ICZM Plan). There is an urgent and critical need for research on the application of marine spatial planning in tropical areas because the policy framework originally designed for the European Union may not fit the specificities of southern countries. Political instability in different countries, particularly in Africa, and the economic power of transnational companies affects power relationships. For instance, MSP could open the way for ocean grabbing, i.e. « the dispossession or appropriation of use, control or access to ocean space or resources from prior resource users, rights holders or inhabitants » (Bennett 2015, Wolf 2015). The risk of ocean grabbing is particularly high in tropical countries.
The Tropical Atlantic is a shared ocean which links developed, emerging and developing countries. Human exploitation of the sea has increased rapidly on both sides of the Tropical Atlantic in the last few decades. The economic and social stakes involved in oil exploitation, fisheries, seabed mining, food security, etc., are high. The countries bordering the tropical Atlantic share certain other specificities, including the lack of scientific historical data and a sectorial approach to ocean management. In North-Eastern Brazil and West Africa, marine spatial planning is only in its infancy (Agardi, 2010; Maroni, 2014). At this early stage, analysing the diffusion of the marine spatial planning process will enable upstream research to shed light on the opportunities and to identify the limits of marine spatial planning for the Tropical Atlantic. Propagation of the MSP process will have an impact on policies for the management of the ocean space as well as on connections between political and administrative authorities, legal measures, civil society (local and global) and research results in natural sciences. Cooperation between African, European and Brazilian researchers will optimize their ability to identify the specificities and particular needs of MSP in this area. Moreover, these populations have historical and economic links as well as having natural resources in common.

Countries on each side of the Tropical Atlantic will be used as case studies in PADDLE (Senegal, Cabo Verde, North East Brazil). These three case studies have strong history of fisheries, recent experience in offshore energy production, a real need to maintain artisanal fisheries, and to share exploitation of their ZEE and continental shelves with other countries (fisheries agreement, oil exploitation, offshore wind farms). Conciliating human activities at sea generates challenges. Failures and success stories need to be shared between the case studies.


S.O.1     To identify the needs and potential impact of MSP on societal, political and ecological dynamics in Tropical Atlantic by consolidate existing research collaboration.
S.O.2    To share and integrate approaches and knowledge among academic and non academic partners for the development and innovation
S.O.3    To develop, apply and disseminate innovative tools and platform for knowledge-based tropical marine spatial planning
S.O.4    To enhance careers prospective for African, Brazilians and Europeans by building on a multidisciplinary and multicultural consortium of renewed experts in a diversity of complementary domain of expertise
S.O.5    To better global collaboration between local and foreign scientists, by Building long-term collaborative relationships
S.O.6    To contribute to the aims of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean


The aim of the PADDLE project is to build a network capable of generating these innovations about opportunities and limits of scientific tools to reboot the debate on tropical marine resources governance. To this end, the work in PADDLE is organized in five interrelated work packages (WPs) with specific goals and deliverables. WP1 will facilitate the internal and external processes needed to guarantee the success of the project including project management and communication and dissemination of the results. The other four WPs (WP 2-5) are based on research activities, which support PADDLE's aim of building a collaborative, international platform of academic and non-academic experts who are - and will become increasingly - specialized in marine spatial planning in tropical regions.

WP4 - Challenges and Solutions for Tropical Atlantic MSP
On the Blue Growth Communication (COM(2012)494) it’s clear that there are a number of potential synergies to be created between maritime economic activities. Mapping of uses in marine environments plays an important role by given a visualization of spatial allocation of uses but still needs some improvement in order to fully represent the three dimensions of maritime uses (sea surface, water column, seabed) and timeline. In the existing practice, besides mapping, numerous generic conflict matrixes have been developed for the purpose of MSP showing “spatial compatibilities” but also “spatial non-compatibilities (BaltSeaPlan Findings, 2013).  Usually the conflict matrix identifies both the real conflicts as well as where compatible sea uses are necessary. However, conflicts and conflict solving strategies need to be more deeply addressed to achieve both Blue Growth and EBM. In order to succeed in any conflict solving strategy the most important component is those involved in the conflict and those facilitating solutions: stakeholders. Throughout the entire MSP process, Stakeholder involvement can dictate success or failure and therefore innovative ways of assuring effectiveness on engagement and participation are highly needed and important
WP5 – From key processes of tropical socio-ecosystems to a tropical MSP tools network
The aim of this work package is to create an efficient interdisciplinary platform to synthesize and make available policy-relevant knowledge and decision support tools. The vocation of this platform will be to help practitioners during their decision-making process to assess alternative and balanced MSP and governance options, their pertinence with respect to policy targets, their possible combinations, and their impacts on the environment and human communities. An Internet platform will organise and provide access to a wide variety of knowledge relevant to tropical MSP. A toolbox of Decision Support Tools (DST; e.g. Center for Ocean Solutions 2011) will be selected and tested in a few study regions and alternative policy strategies. This DST toolbox will account for in particular (i) the dynamic nature of socio-ecological systems and the possibilities opened by dynamic ocean management tools; (ii) the specificities of tropical regions (a rich biodiversity-based resilience, a serious risk of ‘ocean grabbing’); (iii) the need to avoid or at least reduce environmental damage before compensating  when selecting human development options in the oceans; to this end, Paddle will make a special effort to explore DST tools that account for ecosystem processes in their broadest ecological and socio-economic dimensions and not only through monetization of the services they provide to humans.

Résultats attendus

The first innovative contribution of the PADDLE proposal will be to provide scientific tools to reboot the debate on marine resources governance away and move it away from the sole 'privatise or perish' perspective. PADDLE will explore alternative options to ensure that new models of production and ocean governance explicitly include local communities and do not shift wealth away from them. Governance needs options, which support local economic development. Local livelihood opportunities should be able to provide social safety and contribute to poverty alleviation at local and regional levels. To reboot this debate, there is a need for a science-based approach to marine spatial planning, to enable a complete, fair and balanced review of the different options available to policy makers for the management of human activities at sea.

The second innovative contribution of the PADDLE proposal will be mitigating the impacts of the development options. Today the mainstream literature on this topic is fed by the pragmatic concept of ecosystem services, their monetisation, and the underlying concept stating that once monetized, ecosystem components (species, processes, etc.) are interchangeable and ‘compensable’. Although appealing ans efficient for certain negotiations, this reduction of nature to ‘tradable’ services has serious limitations (e.g. Maris 2010). For instance, it does not allow a fair and balanced representation of the contrasted value perceptions of different human communities the prize valuation of a coral reef by an oil company, a group of fishermen or a conservationist ONG will be quite different). Second, shedding light on and evaluating elements and processes that appear to be ‘useful’ to humans at time t, may neglect key ecological processes and jeopardize the health and sustainability of the ecosystems. One way to provide inputs on this topic will to be emphasize options to ‘avoid’ or ‘reduce’ the environmental impacts of the development policies before the need to ‘compensate’ arises.

The third innovative contribution of the PADDLE proposal will consist in explicitly addressing the dynamic nature of socio-ecological systems, in the particularly complex and fluid marine environments. Marine habitats change (under natural seasonal variations, climatic hazards like seashore erosion, or global climate change), marine organisms move (e.g. foraging movements, seasonal migrations, biological invasions, or between different habitats at the larval and adult stages) and adapt (phenotypic plasticity, pathogen outbreaks) and human activities at sea and perceptions evolve at a wide range of temporal scales. To address this issue, PADDLE will explore to what extent dynamic ocean management tools (e.g. Hobday et al. 2014, Lewison et al. 2015, Maxwell et al. 2015) can be incorporated in the marine spatial planning process, and evaluate the opportunities and challenges they represent.