Contributions of marine area-based management tools to the UN sustainable development goals

Elena Gissi*, Frank Maes, Zacharoula Kyriazi, Ana Ruiz-Frau, Catarina Frazão Santos, Barbara Neumann, Adriano Quintela, Fátima L. Alves, Simone Borg, Wenting Chen, Maria da Luz Fernandes, Maria Hadjimichael, Elisabetta Manea, Márcia Marques, Froukje Maria Platjouw, Michelle E. Portman, Lisa P. Sousa, Luca Bolognini, Wesley Flannery, Fabio GratiChristina Pita, Natașa Văidianu, Robert Stojanov, Jan van Tatenhove, Fiorenza Micheli, Anna-Katharina Hornidge, Sebastian Unger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Area-Based Management Tools (ABMTs) are spatial instruments for conservation and managing different forms of ocean use. A multitude of ABMTs exists in marine areas within and beyond national jurisdiction, ranging from tools for the regulation of specific human activities (e.g. fisheries, shipping, or mining) to cross-sectoral tools (e.g. such as marine protected areas, MPAs, and marine spatial planning, MSP). By applying expert elicitation and reviewing scientific and grey literature we evaluate the contribution of ABMTs to sustainable development goals (SDGs) as set out under the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including for SDG 14 that directly addresses the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas, and marine resources. We find that fisheries-related and conservation-related ABMTs, and MSP offer the greatest potential contributions to SDG 14 and to SDGs in general. Moreover, there is high complementarity and synergy among different ABMTs for most SDG 14 targets and other SDGs, with the exception of SDG target 14.6 Prohibit fisheries subsidies and SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy. We find that some ABMTs contribute directly to goal attainment, while others contribute in more nuanced or even unexpected ways. Furthermore, context-specific factors that relate to political and legal factors, enforceability, transparency, governance structure, and inclusivity are crucial for unlocking the full potential of ABMTs of attaining multiple SDGs, as shown through examples. The major challenge to face in the next decade is ensuring durable and equitable outcomes from ABMT implementation by coordinating ABMT initiatives established by different organisations and responsible authorities. It is also critical that outcomes are monitored and evaluated across environmental, social, economic, governance, and health dimensions, with indicators addressing management effectiveness and not only ABMT area coverage.
Original languageEnglish
Article number129910
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Area-based management
  • Areas beyond national jurisdiction
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation
  • Cooperation mechanisms
  • Marine/maritime spatial planning
  • Ocean governance
  • Other effective area-based conservation measures
  • Sustainable development


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