AMP Toolbox

About the Adaptive Marine Policy (AMP) Toolbox
The Adaptive Marine Policy (AMP) Toolbox has been developed to assist marine policymakers to achieve or maintain GES (Good Environmental Status) of coastal and marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. It is aimed at policymakers who are developing marine environment policies, including decision-makers at local, national, and regional authorities.

The purpose is to organize relevant scientific findings and resources into a user-friendly format to aid the decision-making process, thus saving time and frustration.

The AMP Toolbox consists of three major parts:

i. a guide through a five-step policy cycle for developing adaptive marine policies. This cycle provides a suggested structure for policy development and structured links to key activities, relevant advice and materials;

ii. resources such as thematic databases, models that are particularly relevant to the Mediterranean and Black Seas;

iii. examples that are particularly relevant to the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

More information for AMP Toolbox

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Who Is the AMP Toolbox for?

The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) stressed numerous challenges to member-states relating to the protection of territorial waters. So far, diverse methods have been implemented at the national, regional and global levels to facilitate policy settings and gather inputs from stakeholders. Yet, there is an absence of a set of tools to assist mainly policy-makers involved in implementing marine policies. This gap makes it difficult to develop new policies in a coherent manner, as well as to identify reference points for current and future GES of European Seas. As a result, little progress is being observed.
As a means of elaborating participatory design of multi-scale marine management schemes and policies in the context of MSFD, PERSEUS project developed an innovative, web-based toolbox, namely the Adaptive Marine Policy Toolbox – AMP, with a close collaboration between scientists and socio-economists.
The AMP is a set of ‘tools’ (in the broad sense) and is mainly addressed to marine policy makers in the SES countries. More specifically, it provides a set of effective tools, databases, case studies and scientific information that can be used to achieve a variety of outcomes, such as:
  • Gathering information to support relevant stakeholders and policy-makers to deal with certain marine policy issues and, thus, to gain a better understanding of appropriate marine policies required.
  • Facilitating local and regional dialogue between various stakeholders and the general public in the SES countries and fostering cooperation and mutual understanding around marine issues.
  • Structuring a dialogue on MSFD-related policy issues, e.g. the estimation of pressures in socioeconomic terms on the marine and coastal ecosystems.
The overall purpose of the AMP is to make scientific findings and resources readily available in a user-friendly format and, thus, to assist policymakers with formulating policies that will benefit the marine environment and all who depend on it. Furthermore, the AMP is targeted in general at those who are interested in marine policy and who may be new or experienced in these processes and who require policy and scientific tools along with knowledge of the lessons learned from relative case studies. In this sense, the AMP will be useful for anyone working on, or affected by marine policy, and thus, besides policy makers, it is also targeted at scientists and policy practitioners as well as to local, regional and national administrations in SES countries, who may have already used the methods included in the AMP.

Considering the potential users and the application scope of the AMP, it is recognized that not all the information and resources in the AMP will be fully applicable to a particular context. Hence, users need to adapt them to suit their needs.
Keeping these issues in mind, the AMP consists of two major parts:
  • The first part has been specifically designed for policy makers who are working on developing marine environment policies, including decision makers at local, national, and regional authorities. In addition, it concerns interested stakeholders who want to learn more about marine policy issues. This part guides the users, and particularly policy makers, through a five-step process for developing adaptive marine environmental policies.
  • The second part is addressed mainly to scientists working in marine policy field and more experienced policy makers. It provides resources, such as thematic databases, models and examples to illustrate the theory with practical cases that are relevant to the Mediterranean and Black Seas. However, as mentioned, it requires some level of expertise and knowledge to properly use (e.g. the implementation of valuation tools in the decision making process, the use of marine regional models, etc.).
Regarding the first part, the adaptive policy making adopted is based on the policy making process suggested by the MSFD. The five steps of the adaptive and flexible policy making cycle were based on principles and methodologies used in other policy fields, which have been adapted to the specific needs of the MSFD. The AMP has been structured in a way that allows for a step-wise, cyclical policy making approach, or an independent use of tools, instruments and policies involved in specific steps of the cycle. The step-wise or the independent implementation of the cycle step will depend on the nature of the problem studied and the relevance of the steps of the adaptive policy making process. To this end, the AMP aims to propose a flexible framework that could be implemented in the different stages of the marine policy making. Each policy maker will have to adapt the framework according to her/his own need and priorities.
The second part of the AMP is based on both the existing tools and recommendations from previous research efforts and the new knowledge created by the PERSEUS project. For each key field, e.g. ‘Knowledge Base’, ‘Tools & Methods’, etc., a comprehensive list of scientific information is provided, which is classified in terms of theme and topic. Finally, this part contains a extensive list of additional resources and publications, providing a wealth of information in one compact location towards saving time and frustration for those involved in marine policy issues.

What is adaptive policy making?

The term "policy making" refers to defining policy objectives and developing programmes or measures aimed at reaching these objectives. In the case of the Marine Strategic Framework Directive the policy objective is to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES); member states have to develop Programmes of Measures (PoM) to reach this objective. “Within the Mediterranean Sea, the Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention have also decided to progressively apply the Ecosystem Approach (EcAp). The EcAp follows the Ecosystem-Based Approach to management and has objectives in line with the MSFD.” 

To be successful, an ecosystem based policy needs to be able to handle information gaps, scientific uncertainty and changing conditions; this need can be met by adopting an adaptive framework, creating an iterative system of planning and implementation; monitoring the ecosystem, society and economic responses; evaluating results; and developing or amending the plan and possibly the governance system to address management successes and failures (ELI, 2009).
Adaptive policy making aims at forward looking policies, as opposed to extrapolating backward looking trends into the future. It takes into account the uncertainties of future developments, for example through scenario development. Forward looking policies allow for a great amount of flexibility and for adaptation when the future turns out to be other than expected.

Adaptive policies are "devised not to be optimal for a ‘best estimate’-future, but are robust across a range of optimal futures" (Walker et al., 2001). Adaptive policies are based on the principles of flexibility; linking short-term with long-term planning; acknowledgement of uncertainties; and development and use of a number of scenarios which open up a range of probable futures.
Swanson and Bhadwal (2009) identify seven hallmarks of adaptive policy-making:
  • Integrated and forward looking analysis
  • Multi-stakeholder deliberation
  • Automatic policy adjustment
  • Enabling self-organization and social networking
  • Decentralisation of decision-making
  • Promoting variation
  • Formal policy review and continuous learning.

Further reading

Environmental Law Institute (ELI), 2009, Ocean and Coastal Ecosystem-Based Management: Implementation Handbook
Walker, W.E., Rahman, S.A., Cave, J., 2001, Adaptive policies, policy analysis, and policy-making. European Journal of Operational Research 128, 282–289. doi:10.1016/S0377-2217(00)00071.
Swanson, D., Bhadwal, S., 2009, Creating adaptive policies, a guide for policymaking in an uncertain world [WWW Document].
Williams, B. K., Brown, E. D., 2014. Adaptive Management: From More Talk to Real Action. Environmental Management 53(2), 465–479. doi:10.1007/s00267-013-0205-7.