The Mediterranean basin is recognised as a biodiversity hotspot, representing 4 to 18% of the world’s marine biodiversity, with an estimated 30% of species endemic to this region. The sea basin is also severely impacted by human activities such as overexploitation of natural resources, various types of pollution, and climate change.
The European Union (EU) established a framework for Maritime Spatial Planning with the MSP Directive in 2014. According to this Directive, EU Member States must develop national Maritime Spatial Plans (MSPs) defining the possible uses of their respective marine space, following an ecosystem-based approach. This Directive aims to keep the collective pressure of maritime activities within levels compatible with the achievement of Good Environmental Status (GES) of the sea.
Offshore wind energy (OWE) will play a central role in decarbonising our economy, and ultimately help the EU meet its climate and biodiversity targets. Unleashing the full potential of OWE as a domestic clean energy source requires the allocation of adequate space for OWE and the electricity grid that supports it. A well designed and collaborative Maritime Spatial Planning process can support the identification of the most suitable areas for wind and grid infrastructure, while also securing space for nature to thrive. It can also reduce potential spatial conflicts, foster synergies between human activities at sea, and speed up OWE deployment.
Members of the recently launched Offshore Coalition for Energy and Nature – Mediterranean basin (Med OCEaN) therefore strongly support an improved, robust, and timely Maritime Spatial Planning process. This will significantly contribute to accelerating OWE, as well as reducing investment risks and project delays. In this context, Med OCEaN Members, a coalition which includes stakeholders from Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal, are today recommending key principles to be considered by EU Member States of the Mediterranean basin and adjacent Atlantic waters.
The Offshore Coalition for Energy and Nature – Mediterranean Sea (Med OCEaN) brings together NGOs, wind industry and transmission system operators (TSOs) from across the Mediterranean basin and adjacent Atlantic waters. Med OCEaN aims to cooperate on the sustainable deployment of offshore wind and grid, while safeguarding nature and healthy marine ecosystems in the region.