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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

Propelling Marine Spatial Planning in Guangxi, China: A Convergence of Theory and Practice

From May 22-23, 2024, a Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) National Training Workshop was held in Nanning city, the capital of Guangxi Zhang Autonomous Region, China. This workshop aimed to enhance the knowledge of MSP practitioners about the MSPglobal International Guide and empower them to integrate the Guide with MSP practices, thereby reinforcing the implementation of MSP in Guangxi, a coastal province in the southwest China.

“Marine Spatial Planning underpins the ecological, social and economic development in Guangxi,” said Jinyu Xie, Director General of the Guangxi Ocean Bureau.

This event forms part of implementation of the MSPglobal 2.0 project and the UN Ocean Decade Action 21: Accelerate Marine Spatial Planning in the Western Pacific and its Adjacent Areas. Initiated by the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific in 2022, this UN Ocean Decade Project aims to address the needs of Member States in the region to promote an ecosystem-based approach to the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal resources.

Co-organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and its Sub Commission for the Western Pacific(WESTPAC), the event partnered with the China Ocean Development Foundation, the Ocean Bureau of Guangxi Autonomous Region, the Fourth Institute of Oceanography and the First Institute of Oceanography of the Ministry of Natural Resources, China. Nearly fifty MSP practitioners attended the training workshop, including government officials from the Ocean Bureau at both provincial and city levels, researchers, experts, representatives from national and local institutes, universities, and organizations.

Participants were guided through the six MSP phases as outlined in the MSPglobal Guide. Sessions covered the inclusive and participatory approach of MSP, data for MSP, transboundary cooperation, sustainable blue economy, climate-smart MSP, and marine protection and restoration. In addition, the MSP Challenge board game was conducted as an essential hands-on exercise to illustrate the complex relationships between marine-related activities and ecosystem-based MSP.

The training workshop featured the sharing of MSP experience by several participants at  national, provincial and city levels, especially about some emerging issues such as climate change, sea level rise, ecosystem restoration, and integration of land-marine spatial planning. China is among the first countries to formulate marine spatial planning (known as ‘Marine Functional Zoning’ at a very early stage in China) in the late 1970s. “China has extensive experience and valuable lessons in marine spatial planning to share with others. We are committed to fully supporting the implementation of the UN Decade Action in the region,” stated Xinchun Pan, Vice President of the China Ocean Development Foundation, in a video message.

The heated discussions not only enhanced participants’ knowledge about the International Guide and related skills, but also yielded valuable suggestions for advancing marine spatial planning in the pilot site and even the region.


This national training in China is the second national training conducted in the Western Pacific. The first national training took place in Thailand in April 2024.