Developing a performance evaluation mechanism for Portuguese marine spatial planning using a participatory approach

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Ocean governance frameworks are aimed at achieving sustainable use of the marine environment and its finite resources. They are increasingly being developed and implemented worldwide. Although the importance of evaluating the success of integrated ocean management initiatives is widely recognized, so is its complexity, and there is still limited knowledge or empirical experience on how to actually carry out such an evaluation. This research aims to develop a framework to evaluate the performance of marine spatial planning (MSP) (focusing on the tangible outcomes of such initiatives). Portugal's maritime area totals c. 3,800,000 km2. As one of the world's largest maritime nations, and with its ocean governance framework finalised in 2015, Portugal emerges as a relevant case study for the development of a mechanism to evaluate performance of its MSP system. A step-by-step participatory approach was designed to develop a set of indicators that could constitute the core of an evaluation mechanism of the performance of the Portuguese MSP system. The resulting fifteen indicators cover all aspects of an IPOO framework (inputs, process, outputs, outcomes) relevant in an MSP context (data and information base, transparency, aspects related to conflict, and to economic activities such as levels of investment and jobs), while including contextual indicators related to the state of the marine environment. These indicators thus simultaneously allow an assessment of the economic, social, and environmental effects of MSP, including some integrative high-level indicators such as well-being. This research demonstrates the interest and usefulness of using a participatory approach to the development of a comprehensive performance evaluation mechanism of Portuguese MSP. It exemplifies a shift towards a new, participatory, approach to the monitoring and evaluation stages of the MSP cycle, which may constitute a useful tool in the emerging field of MSP evaluation in Europe and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-923
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2018


  • Indicators
  • Monitoring
  • MSP performance evaluation
  • Portugal
  • Stakeholder engagement


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