Vietnamese national planning institution translates Plan Bothnia

16/10/2013 at 10:17 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In May 2013 the HELCOM Secretariat received an unexpected email from Vietnam, asking for permission to translate the book “Planning the Bothnian Sea” to Vietnamese. The book, the final report of a HELCOM-led project on planning the future of the offshore Bothnian Sea, a part of northern Baltic Sea situated between Åland Islands and the Quark (Umeå-Vasa), had been released a year earlier. The initiative has been part of HELCOMs efforts to develop transboundary ecosystem based maritime spatial planning (MSP) in the region in cooperation with VASAB, another regional organization.

Even if the book had already received international recognition for its substance and particularly for its design, most of the attention so far had been European. We were charmed by this sudden overseas interest and naturally replied positively.

Five months later, in October 2013, we were quite astonished when we received an email with a complete Vietnamese version of the book. Every single word and graph on the 153 original pages had been meticulously translated. The effort and devotion that our distant colleagues had spent on our publication exceeded all our expectations. Find the Vietnamese version of “Planning the Bothnian Sea” here.

Plannning the Bothnian Sea VIETNAMESE Cover

After the initial excitement had worn off we quickly developed a curiosity on the purpose behind the translation. To find out more we decided to ask one of the Vietnamese translators, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hai, some questions about why they thought it worthwhile to make the book, about planning in a far-away northern sea, available also to Vietnamese readers.

Here are his answers:

Who are you and where do you work?

My name is Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hai and I am the Deputy Director of Department of Sustainable Development and Response to Climate Change at the Development Strategy Institute (DSI), under the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam.

Our offices are in central Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, on 65 Văn Miếu street –just across the street from the Temple of Literature, which was considered as the first national university in Vietnam.

How are your tasks related to Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)? Why and how is Vietnam working with MSP?

The main duty of my Institute, DSI, is to make socio-economic master plans and national strategy for the whole territory of Vietnam for the 10-year period, recently including also sea areas. MSP is considered as a part of this socio-economic master planning. MSP is a new tool in Vietnam and we are currently developing our own approach to planning at sea, both from a practical and a theoretical point of view. Moreover, my institute was assigned to build the Vietnamese marine strategy up to 2020. So, your material is necessary for my Institute as a reference, especially for the next update of it.

How did get to know the project Plan Bothnia and the book “Planning the Bothnian Sea”?

This happened completely by accident -at a short course in Sweden on strategic environmental assessment (SEA) supported SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency). Mr. Jan Schmidtbauer-Crona from the Swedish Water and Marine Management Agency (SWAM) gave me the book after his presentation on SEA and MSP.

Why did you want to translate the book?

At the course in Sweden I realized that “Planning the Bothnian Sea” could be good reference for our national MSP work in Vietnam -and decided to translate it to Vietnamese. Translation was necessary so that also those without good English skills can read the text.

How long did it take to translate it? What was the biggest challenge doing it?

It took me and my colleague Pham Minh Hien around two months to translate the book. I did not have any great troubles in translating, except in the case of some abbreviated words in the Annex.

How do you intend to use it?

I will publish the Vietnamese version on DSI’s website. In this way everyone in Vietnam has the possibility to study the Plan Bothnia initiative and its methodology.

What is the most important lesson you learnt from the book?

I think several features of the MSP presented in the book are interesting. First of all, it is an example of plan making using an ecological approach. Secondly, it highlights that this kind of MSP becomes reality only when participating countries have same purpose and will. Overall it presents to us valuable European experiences in carrying out MSP. Me and my colleagues hope that in the future we can use the Plan Bothnia experiences in a Vietnamese MSP context.

Did you know HELCOM or MSP cooperation in the Baltic Sea before you translated the book? Do you have international cooperation on MSP with your neighboring countries in your sea areas, and how does it work?

I knew a little bit about HELCOMs work in the Baltic Sea before translating but the picture is much clearer now. Until now I or my Institute has not had any international cooperation concerning MSP with our neighboring countries. It seems MSP cooperation needs to be promoted more in our own region.

Nguyen Ngoc Hai

Pham Minh Hien

Pictures: Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hai (left), Mr. Pham Minh Hien (right)

Plan Bothnia wins more design awards!

19/04/2013 at 12:26 | Posted in award | 1 Comment

The Plan Bothnia book won two more design awards yesterday, one of which is a renowned international design competition (“D&AD professional awards 2013”) the another is the main Finnish national competition in the field of design (“Vuoden Huiput 2013”).

In the D&AD professional awards 2013, organised by the London-based Design and Art Direction (D&AD), Plan Bothnia won an “In the book” award in the category “Book design/entire book”. In 2013 six books from around the world won an D&AD prize.

The D&AD award means Plan Bothnia will be featured in the 2013 “D&AD 2013” book to be published by Taschen -displaying the best of 2013 according to D&AD.

In the Best of the Year (Vuoden Huiput) Competition organised by Grafia (Association of Visual Communication Designers in Finland), the Plan Bothnia publication won a silver award in the category “publication graphics” (Julkaisugrafiikka). In 2013 five publications won a “best of the year” award.

The Best of the Year silver award means Plan Bothnia will be featured in the 2013 “Vuoden huiput” annual catalogue to be published by Grafia. Plan Bothnia is also displayed in the Best of the Year 2013 exhibition at the Helsinki City Hall (Sofiankatu 1, Gallery “Virka”) during the period 12.4.–26.5. (mon-fri 9-19, sat-sun 10-16).

Plan Bothnia won earlier the first prize in the Finnish “Antalis Design Awards 2012”.

Award winning Plan Bothnia publication available for downloading!

21/02/2013 at 11:49 | Posted in award, final, pdf | Leave a comment

The corrected 2013 electronic editions of the Plan Bothnia summary outcome “Planning the Bothnian Sea” and the separate poster map are now available!

Pan Bothnia bookPlanning The Bothnian Sea (digital edition 2013).pdf (12MB)

Plan Bothnia Pilot PlanPlan Bothnia foldout map (digital edition 2013).pdf (14MB)

Besides Plan Bothnia, the joint Swedish-Finnish pilot plan for the offshore Bothnian Sea, the publication provides a summary of the underlying analyses on the different characteristics, uses and future developments in the region.

Antalis best book of the year

We are also very glad to inform that the print version of Planning the Bothnian Sea, released in 2012, has won a prestigious Finnish design prize. Our book was selected “Book of the Year” and also won the price of the best publication out of almost 200 in the Antalis Design and Print Awards 2012 on 14 February 2013. See some pictures.

In case you are interested in obtaining a hardcopy the HELCOM secretariat can try to locate remaining copies at project partner premises.

Plan Bothnia -the Baltic Sea transboundary MSP Preparatory Action -has completed its work

29/06/2012 at 16:21 | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dear All,

With some nostalgy I just want to inform you all that Plan Bothnia, the DG MARE funded MSP preparatory action for the Baltic Sea (2010-2012), has completed its work on 1. June 2012.

During the 18 project months we achieved to complete a successful and we believe a state-of-the-art test of comprehensive and transboundary MSP in the Baltic Sea. This was created as a joint product between competent planning authorities from both sides of the Finnish-Swedish border and is thus anchored to the real life work of MSP planners in two separate countries. This makes this practical initiative different from the many theoretical MSP research projects in the Baltic, around Europe and the world.

The summary publication released during the European Maritime Day 2012 in Gothenburg (21.-22. May) gives you a possibility to dive into the topic of transboundary MSP with a concrete, and hopefully inspiring example.

The plan publication includes also commentaries by five international experts on MSP, our peer reviewers, who reflect on the contribution of the Plan Bothnia project to other sea areas ranging from Australia, US, Canada as well as more close waters around Spain and the UK.

(UPDATE 24.9.2012) Please note that we are working on the online pdf version. Our graphic designers have to make some minor corrections to the file according to observations made after the release of the hard copy version. We will make a final post with the link when available.

In the meanwhile please contact us for a hard copy if you are interested in the end product.

Welcome to Plan Bothnia Final Conference 23 May 2012!

04/05/2012 at 20:07 | Posted in event | Leave a comment
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The PLAN BOTHNIA Final Conference & Future Collaboration on MSP in Europe
Date and Time: 23. May 2012 (9:00-16:30, lunch included, plus reception thereafter)

Venue: Museum of World Culture (Världskulturmuseet), Södra vägen 54, Gothenburg, Sweden.


The PLAN BOTHNIA project (2. Dec 2010- 1. June 2012) has concretely tested joint transboundary MSP in a larger area covering the Bothnian Sea, a part of the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden. The project has created and analyzed background material on activities and natural values, and developed a pilot plan for the offshore areas of the Bothnian Sea. The project’s final conference on May 23rd gives an opportunity to reflect on achievements so far and provides a platform to discuss future collaboration on MSP.

The morning session will take a closer look on the pilot plan as well as the process of drafting it. This will be the starting point for a wider, interactive discussion in the afternoon on the future of European MSP. For this purpose, Plan Bothnia cooperates with the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment and a newly formed European MSP research network.

The aim is to identify important challenges for MSP and appropriate forms of collaboration to address them. Thus the discussions of the MSP related sessions- including the Plan Bothnia & Maspnose session 13:00 – 14:30 (Room 4: Foyer)- of the European Maritime Day 2012 (stakeholder day on 22. May) can continue towards concrete results, e.g. an action program or working groups for coming research calls.

The working language of the event will be English.

For catering purposes please register, preferably by 18 May 2012, through this link (

Full programme and invitation is available from here.



Plan Bothnia steaming to the goal

11/04/2012 at 20:23 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The followers of Plan Bothnia might have noticed that no blogposts have rolled in lately. This is not indicating that we at the Lead Partner (HELCOM Secretariat) have been standing still. In contrast, it means that we have been all tied up to finalise our initiative!

At the concluding Plan Bothnia MSP 5 meeting in Vasa 19.-21. March we managed to wrap up many of the remaining loose strands. The twenty participants gave their best to complete the Plan Bothnia MSP plan as well as looked at the final publication. We had also a joint session with SeaGis -a MSP project which has recently started in the Quark area -northern Bothnian Sea.

Plan Bothnia MSP5 Participants discussing the future of traffic patterns around the Bothnian Sea

After the meeting we have been compiling our final publication for print. With close to a hundred maps and a complex text this publication has been, and still remains for a few weeks, a truly exiting and challenging task.

During these short weeks our partners have provided input and comments. Our graphics team has been churning out visualisations based on our directions. Our critical review team of MSP experts around the world have given us good comments on the text. Our language editor has been busy. In short this has been a busy period for our project.

But all good things come to an end -and so does Plan Bothnia. After we finish our work with the publication we start steering in to the final harbour- the Final conference in Gothenburg. Or actually final conferences as there will be two opportunities to reflect on our project.

As mentioned, we will have a 1,5h session with MASPNOSE during stakeholder part of the European maritime Day (22.May 2012) which will focus on general lessons learned on transboundary MSP.

The day after, the 23rd may we will organise a full day of MSP in Gothenburg which will not only present our findings in more detail, but importantly also take a look at the future of MSP in Sweden and Europe. Programme and registration will follow shortly.

Welcome to discuss -and collect your example of the Plan Bothnia pilot plan. Book your calendars!



Final MSP5 meeting 19.-21. March in Vasa

14/02/2012 at 16:11 | Posted in meeting | Leave a comment
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The final working meeting of the Plan Bothnia project (MSP5) for partners and process participants will be held 19.-21. March in Vasa, Finland. The dates and venue enable some interaction and joint sessions with the SeaGis project participants and guests- who will have a meeting at the same time (20.-21 March) and place.

The specific objective of this concluding fifth meeting is to finalise the project output, a pilot MSP plan suggestion as well as the final report publication, based on final drafts submitted to the meeting. The two first days (19. & 20.) will centre on the final pilot plan. The last day (21.) will be focused on finalising the project publication and is mainly intended for authors and project partners enabling agreement on final output.

A day of Plan Bothnia in Riga

08/02/2012 at 13:36 | Posted in event | Leave a comment
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Meeting room

People interested in Plan Bothnia and MSP

On Monday (6.2.2012) the Plan Bothnia project held a public event (“regional stakeholder meeting”) in Riga, Latvia -the home town of the project partner VASAB. The event was attended by 60 participants from ten countries. Besides presentations on recent and overall progress the event included Finnish and Swedish ministry experiences with Plan Bothnia, other projects as well the two consultancy studies commissioned under the project (Baltic MSP “best practices” & “minimum recommendations”). The event was intended to be an information event -enabling discussions around the regional Baltic Sea and European dimensions of the initiative. In my view this aim was reached in an excellent way.

After opening words by the Head of the VASAB Secretariat, Mr. Talis Linkaits, I provided an overview to the progress in the project. This covered the recent drafts of MSP plans discussed at the January project meeting in Stockholm, Sweden. After agreeing on final results the remaining MSP 5 meeting (end of March), the project will mainly prepare for its closing events (see below).

Project Officer Mr. Manuel Frias followed with an introduction to the open and transparent data and publicity practices of the project, including the state of the art Map Service which enables not only viewing -but also downloading -of all project GIS data. Through such tools Plan Bothnia tries to make its own contribution to break the barriers around access to concrete geographic data, which would enable e.g. the civil society to start forming its own opinions on offshore planning.

Sten and Tiina

Sten Jerdenius and Tiina Tihlman

The presentations of the representatives of Finland (Ms. Tiina Tihlman) and Sweden (Mr. Sten Jerdenius) underlined importance of the partnership within the initiative, carried out during the last year between the ca. twenty national and sub-national authorities from Finland and Sweden. The initiative was seen as a unique opportunity for the two countries and sub-national entities to orient themselves in the offshore aspects of MSP for future developments. They also highlighted the specific features of the Finnish and Swedish planning systems in the territorial sea, de-facto ongoing already for some decades, as well as on land.

As a personal note, these excellent presentations pointed indirectly also out the limited number of approaches highlighted in the recent EU related discussions around MSP. As an example the presented Northern European approaches to planning and MSP, with the possible exception of Norway, have received little publicity in EU circles. This is especially striking if compared to the attention on central -European approaches (e.g. Germany, Netherlands, U.K), which are also quite prominent in the regional Baltic Sea discussions. Without dismissing progress or merits of the approaches taken by these powerful countries it is, from a trans-boundary cooperation point of view, a bit disturbing how few perspectives  are available to MSP the countries in Europe, and the Baltic Sea, to start their work in developing MSP.

Dialogue on alternatives is needed as MSP, like any planning, is not about right and wrong approaches but essentially about issues like national interests and politics (foreign and internal), power and access to (or preservation of) resources- needless to say the explosive stuff wars have been fought on. Perhaps somewhat beside the point and heretic in the times of the common European market, but it is still an interesting fact that many of the strong industry players having interests and operating in areas like the offshore Bothnian Sea are not local but international, and commonly of central European origin. An example is the German wind power company WPD -with the major offshore development proposals in Finnish (Korsnäs) and Swedish (Storgrundet, Finngrundet) waters.

The peculiar features of the northern planning systems include the strong role of sub-national authorities (municipalities) and local democracy, as well as the decade-long history of the Ministries of the Environment as the Ministry responsible (fully or partly) for cross-sectoral planning issues. The latter has perhaps enabled better integration of environmental issues to planning, has not prevented a cross-sectoral approach and does seem to have been a problem for economic growth either. Nordic countries are after all among the few European countries with the highest credit ratings.


Martin Paastors-MASPNOSE (top), Mats Lindegarth-PREHAB (bottom) and Lachlan Cameron-Seanergy (right)

In addition to such northern perspectives presentations of three projects provided North Sea angles to MSP (MASPNOSE and Seaenergy) as well as highlighted recent progress on habitat modeling (PREHAB). The North Sea examples pointed out good practices but also some of the difficulties which transboundary MSP cooperation face in central Europe. The latter seems to indicate that the Baltic region has truly potential to be a world leading region in terms of trans-boundary MSP cooperation- despite evident differences in national approaches.

The two Plan Bothnia commissioned consultancy studies, conducted by Prof. Jacek Zaucha (PL) and Dr. Bernhard Heidrichs (DE), highlighted certain elements which they have characterised as “best practices” as well as “minimum requirements” of MSP. The reports have turned out as solid reports -even with the caveat that due to the nature of the task given by the project (defining “best” and “minimum”) some of the conclusions are naturally colored by the personal preferences and backgrounds of the authors. The valuable output of these consultants, to be finalised by 15 Feb 2012, will during the next months be considered also by the rest of the Plan Bothnia project partners with a view to agree on some joint input to the Plan Bothnia final report publication.

All in all the discussions during the day in Riga were lively and open -which is always welcome in an emerging issue like MSP where strong national views sometimes pull in different directions. These discussions will continue at the Final events of the Plan Bothnia project, to be arranged 22.May (application for a joint 1,5h Plan Bothnia-MASPNOSE event on transboundary MSP) and 23. May (full day Plan Bothnia final conference). The reader is warmly welcome.

Big thanks goes to VASAB Secretariat staff- Talis, Dzintra and Baiba for arranging a very successful meeting.

Hermanni Backer, Project Manager

The fourth meeting provided first glimpses of a MSP plan

27/01/2012 at 14:03 | Posted in meeting | Leave a comment
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Piperska Muren entrance

Entrance to the conference center - a XVII century palace

Wednesday and Thursday this week the Plan Bothnia project had its fourth planning meeting (MSP4) in Stockholm, Sweden (conference centre “Piperska Muren”). The meeting took an in-depth look at the draft material produced by project participants.

The discussions centered around similarities and differences between two documents including material for the Plan Bothnia MSP plan, one from a group of Finnish participants and another from a group of Swedish participants. These inspiring documents provided the first glimpses of what the Plan Bothnia MSP plan could look like. The material included suggestions for both the plan map as well as related text. These documents and other meeting material is available at the appropriate folder of the project document library.

Pål and Anne presenting

Pål Karlsson and Anne Savola presenting draft plan material

The interesting discussions at MSP4 concluded that even if there are some differences in approaches these are relatively minor. As steps toward a joint proposal the meeting agreed on the first outline of the plan part of the final report, as well as a drafts of typology/map legend. The outcome of the meeting will be available Friday 3 February at the project document library along with other meeting documents.

Intersessional work before the next planning meeting (MSP5), to be held 19.-21. March will prepare a complete plan draft for the Final report to be released at the Final conference (s) to be organised during the period 22.-23. May 2012, in conjunction of the European Maritime Day 2012 (Gothenburg, Sweden).

Coming up: MSP 4 (Stockholm) and public event (Riga)

10/01/2012 at 16:53 | Posted in event, meeting | Leave a comment
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After a refreshing pause we are now preparing for our next working meeting, Plan Bothnia MSP4, to be held in Stockholm, Sweden 25-26 January 2012. The aim of this meeting is to look at available material, including concrete plan drafts, and develop them further for the final report. The meeting material is available from the document library.

After this Stockholm meeting we still have at least one working meeting (MSP5) which has been proposed to be held in March 2012, possibly between 21st-22nd in Finland -but subject to decision at MSP4 [nb. final dates and venue confirmed 15.2.2012 are 19.-21 March in Vasa].  Possibly one more working meeting will be arranged if  necessary.

In addition, there will be a public Plan Bothnia event on 6 February 2012 (11:00-17:00) in Riga, Latvia (Monika Centrum Hotels, meeting room “Glory”, Elizabetes street 21, Riga) organised by Projet Partner VASAB. The event will be geared toward wider Baltic participants and is organised in conjunction with the HELCOM-VASAB MSP WG meeting taking place in Riga 7.-8. February 2012. Please find programme here.

Our final event will then be in Gothenburg, Sweden in conjunction with the European Maritime Day (21.-22. May 2012).

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