Strengthening ocean governance in the Southeast Pacific: IOC-UNESCO presents the outcomes of its SPINCAM project

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO gathered stakeholders in Flanders (Belgium) from 16 to 19 February 2016 for a week of discussions and stock-taking on ocean governance, blue growth, marine spatial planning and coastal management in the Southeast Pacific.

During the SPINCAM Week in Flanders, stakeholders of the Southeast Pacific data and information network in support to integrated coastal area management (SPINCAM) presented to the authorities of Flanders, the Flanders Marine Cluster, the Flemish research community and the European Commission, the project’s success in assisting developing countries establish ocean governance frameworks.

SPINCAM is presently concluding its second phase in supporting Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru develop methodologies, capacities and shared technical infrastructures towards the implementation of a long-term science-based strategy for the sustainable growth of their coastal areas.

The first day of SPINCAM Week was dedicated to ocean governance, where the current state of the coastal and marine policies in the Southeast Pacific was discussed. Despite existing initiatives on integrated coastal area management (ICAM) and marine spatial planning (MSP) amongst the five participating countries, implementation and transboundary coordination and cooperation are still deficient due to disparate institutional capacities and models.

That is why, following a workshop in October 2015, recommendations were made to explore options for the design and creation of an Integrated Regional Ocean Policy for the Southeast Pacific. IOC’s capacity development strategy is fully in line with the needs of the region in terms of strengthening institutional capacities on ecosystem-based management, data and information.  

The second day of SPINCAM Week was dedicated to Blue Growth, which according to Julian Barbière, Head of IOC’s Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section, can only be sustainable if the appropriate management frameworks are in place and if management policies switch from a sectorial to an integrated ecosystem-based approach.

Priority areas of investment in the Southeast Pacific include artisanal fishing, aquaculture production, maritime commerce, as well as tourism around marine and coastal protected areas. But for blue growth to be a viable alternative to traditional economic models, countries must go sustainable while maintaining global competitiveness, removing labor market obstacles, and conducting careful economic planning.

The remainder of the session constituted a space for a number of companies and consultants to show their work toward blue growth in the following fields, inter alia: operational forecasting and hydro-informatics in Large Marine Infrastructure Projects; offshore energy and supporting services; and nautical measurement instruments and platforms.

On 18 February, interactions with the research and scientific community of Flanders gave ministerial representatives from the Southeast Pacific the opportunity to present case studies:


  • In Chile, the government is working to strengthen its National Plan of Sustainable Tourism by giving a broader role to ICAM through joint promotion of local and regional actors;
  • In Colombia, traditional communities work as “co-researchers” and participate in each step of ICAM decision processes, such as study area delimitation, diagnosis, problem identification and construction and implementation of management plans;
  • In Ecuador, MSP and ICAM processes are used to support other nationally-led policies toward ecosystem-based integrated management of coastal areas, such as the Agreements for the Sustainable Use and Custody of Mangrove;
  • In Peru, SPINCAM indicators were used in a pilot case in the Bay of Sechura to provide quality information for decision-making processes in coastal activities.

Looking to the future, Alejandro Iglesias Campos from IOC presented the proposal for the next – third – phase of SPINCAM, focused on the development and implementation of coastal and marine management planning. Expected results of the new phase will include a strengthened institutionalization of marine governance; improved regional networks on coastal/marine issues; regional marine spatial planning strategies; a reduction of technical disparities between countries; and improved communication and participatory processes.

The last day of SPINCAM Week was dedicated to a high level meeting with Flemish authorities and the European Commission. The Government of Flanders welcomed the outcomes of SPINCAM’s second edition and showed strong interest in IOC’s SPINCAM 3 proposal.

Funded by the Government of Flanders, the project was first approved in 2008. It has been developed since 2009 under the coordination of IOC-UNESCO, through its Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section with valuable contributions on data and information from the Project Office for IODE, and at regional level by the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific.

The project’s last publication and atlases on the sustainability of existing and future coastal management practices are available online.

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