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GRID-Arendal has signed an agreement with SeaSketch, an online tool for participatory Marine Spatial Planning (MSP). This software will be used for educational and research purposes in projects with a strong emphasis on MSP, such as the Blue Solutions and Mami Wata initiatives that GRID-Arendal is partnering on.

“We’re pleased to be able to offer a solution for our projects that goes beyond tackling the current restrictions regarding international travel, but can also be used as an additional tool once we’re able to conduct training in-person again,” said Mario Caña, Marine Expert at GRID-Arendal.

Marine Spatial Planning software SeaSketch showcasing Bakul

Blue Solutions is a global initiative promoting conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment through various activities and training for capacity development. Blue Planning in Practice (BPiP) is one of the highly interactive training courses developed under the project. Its aim is to enable ecosystem-based marine and coastal planning and management. BPiP is strongly based on practical exercises focusing on the case study of Bakul, a fictitious country facing conditions and challenges seen in real-life marine environments. Some of this case work utilizes paper-based maps to reproduce future development demands of maritime sectors or identify areas where different ocean uses overlap, requiring management measures. The course has been conducted in various parts of the world since 2017, typically for five-day in-person trainings. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed local and international travel, compelling the Blue Solutions team to explore virtual training alternatives.

“This is where SeaSketch comes in, providing an online platform for participants to perform mapping exercises and in turn reflect on implications for their real-life cases. Bakul is now available in SeaSketch,” Caña added.

The activities of the Mami Wata project have also been disrupted by the pandemic. This project works with African countries to further develop their capacities for Integrated Ocean Management (IOM), including MSP. The activities in the pilot projects conducted in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana adapted to the new travel and meeting restrictions by going online when needed. This has been the case both for project meetings and capacity-building actions. SeaSketch can also support these countries, particularly for fundamental components in MSP, such as mapping the current conditions and future scenarios, as well as stakeholder engagement. Demonstration projects have been established in SeaSketch to test this online platform in the MSP processes of Benin and Côte d’Ivoire. A third SeaSketch project has been initiated to explore transboundary cooperation between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Training sessions in SeaSketch and the publishing of spatial data are being conducted to enable the use of the tool as a spatial database upon which to further develop MSP activities.

About SeaSketch
SeaSketch is an easy-to-use platform for participation in Marine Spatial Planning processes. This tool allows stakeholders with relevant experience with the ocean to contribute their local knowledge, values, and opinions on how common ocean space should be managed. The resulting zoning, regulatory, and management plans can incorporate the inputs of stakeholders affected by planning decisions, in addition to those of the planners and scientists involved. This ultimately results in better management closely tied to scientific evidence.

About GRID-Arendal
GRID-Arendal is a non-profit environmental communications centre that transforms environmental data into innovative, science-based information products and provides capacity-building services, with the aim of strengthening management capacity and motivating decision-makers to make positive change.

Release date: 20 Oct 2020

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