Research / Projects

Marine Spatial Planning in the Baltic Sea Region – Integrating Scales, Sectors and Knowledge

The interdisciplinary research project BaltSpace aims to generate an improved understanding on what restricts and promotes Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) in the Baltic Sea region. More precisely the focus of BaltSpace is to explore if and how various interests, values and knowledge claims among countries, societal sectors and stakeholders are considered and integrated in MSP processes.

External project site


Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space 2018, 36 (2): 58-273.

Responding to calls for a more theoretically driven, post-positivist and radical marine spatial planning research that approaches the policy as a political project, this paper develops a poststructuralist discourse theory approach to critical marine spatial planning. Elaborating radical contingency as an ontological condition of social life, which points to the ineradicability of power and conflict in marine spatial planning social relations, the paper problematizes marine spatial planning as constituting politics, or key practices that attempt to organize human coexistence and thus, conceal this radical contingency. These practices (e.g. ecosystem-based management, participation, planning regulation and the organization of socio-natural spaces), whose outcomes are far from adaptive, consensual or neutral are discussed as sites of ‘politics’ that effectively marginalize particular groups of people and ‘herd’ their participation and ways of knowing toward achieving limited policy outcomes. Drawing on the EU Marine Spatial Planning Directive, the paper further teases out how specific narratives and rhetorical signifiers around ‘integrating’ and ‘balancing’ potentially irreconcilable sustainable development objectives may interpellate particular stakeholders in ways that render them ideologically complicitous in sustaining, rather than challenging, neoliberal logics of managerialism and economic maximization of marine resources. But in tune with the ontological condition of the social as radically contingent, the paper discusses how and why participatory spaces may constitute a potential space of contestation for marginalized voices and thus, reveal the political moment of marine spatial planning. Calls are made for future empirically grounded research that explores how these marine spatial planning practices are lived in both planning and extra-planning settings, and with what implications for marine protection and extant social relations of power in different marine spatial planning contexts.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Ralph Tafon

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe



School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies
Environmental Science

Research area for doctoral studies

Environmental Studies



Project Manager

Michael Gilek
Professor, Associate Professor
School of Natural Science, Technology and Environmental Studies

People linked to the project

Björn Hassler
Professor, Professor
School of Natural Science, Technology and Environmental Studies

Fred Saunders
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School of Natural Science, Technology and Environmental Studies

More information

Project start: 2015
Project end: 2019

Financier: Östersjöstiftelsen

Research linked to the Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe: Yes

Information på svenska

Subjects to which the project is linked

School/centre to which the project is linked

Research area for doctoral studies to which the project is linked