Climate-Informed Coastal & Marine Spatial Planning Guide


Coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) is a science-based, collaborative process used to sustainably manage resources, interests, and activities among diverse users and sectors. Climate change is already influencing the location of some populations of commercially important fisheries, marine transportation routes, and the type and number of tourists visiting particular areas. Climate-informed CMSP is a dynamic planning process that integrates the long-term impacts of climate change, along with different uses, values, and needs, into the planning and management of resilient coastal and marine environments. Regardless of whether your focus is efficient and sustainable harvest, conservation, or achieving clarity about possible zoning for marine transportation and energy, climate change has the potential to affect everything. This guide provides case studies, articles, and tools related to climate change, ocean acidification, and CMSP to support your coastal and marine management and decision making.

The goal of this Climate-informed CMSP Guide is to help managers and planners consider how to integrate climate change into CMSP. The purpose of this guide is not to recommend another planning framework, but instead to provide guidance that can be used with any coastal and marine plans regardless of the process used.

This guide offers key components to aid in the development of climate-informed CMS plans. It is designed to be flexible and non-linear, broadly applicable to all planning processes, and may be used at any stage of the planning process or during plan revisions to ensure that CMSP is robust in a changing climate. It is presented in 4 steps comprising 12 actions and features case study examples from coastal and marine planning efforts:

    1. Scope: Set Goals & Objectives
      • Action 1. Identify the planning context
      • Action 2. Inventory assets
      • Action 3. Scope climate impacts on major sectors
    2. Assess: Consider Future Conditions
      • Action 4. Adjust existing data and maps to reflect potential changes over time
      • Action 5. Create new data, maps, and conservation targets to reflect climate-specific concerns
      • Action 6. Emphasize connections between terrestrial and ocean systems
    3. Design: Identify Climate Adaptation Options
      • Action 7. Limit development in vulnerable areas
      • Action 8. Engage stakeholders to strengthen public buy-in and support
      • Action 9. Use climate-related information to evaluate and/or prioritize uses
      • Action 10. Implement climate mitigation and adaptation options
    4. Integrate: Implementation & Evaluation
      • Action 11. Acknowledge and document uncertainty
      • Action 12. Implement monitoring and adaptive management to document changes, track effectiveness, and make necessary adjustments to actions

    Featured Case Studies & Resources