The implementation of maritime/marine spatial planning (MSP) strategies and management actions is often sought out by means of holistic, sustainability seeking processes, recognizing the connectivity and interdependences of all ecosystem elements, including humans. In this context, overall sustainability is reached when social, environmental and economic sustainability are equally considered. However, the integration of social aspects and views, alongside other, non-political, elements of the social dimension, has been found to lack well-rounded consideration in processes supporting decision-making. One identified problem is the absence of an existing framework that defines social variables and dimension components in ocean management approaches. This paper assesses the social context important to build such a definition within MSP. Based on existing literature and social sciences research it provides an outline for the concept of a social dimension in MSP and suggests definitions to further discussion and aid in the development of socially integrative guidelines. Recommendations are provided to support necessary future research and enhance social justice and inclusion within existing planning processes. This is important to avoid and mitigate negative implications at social levels and to motivate the development of a new approach to ocean sustainability and integration of all planning dimensions.
- Maritime planning