Call for Tender - Consultant to assess the alignment of Marine Spatial Plans with EU environmental legislation

Application deadline: 
Monday, 9. August 2021 - 12:00


1.1. Introduction to the organization 

BirdLife International is a global Partnership of autonomous, national non-governmental conservation organisations, with a large grassroots membership, in 120 countries and territories. BirdLife works together as a Partnership to conserve wild birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, by working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. BirdLife is the global authority on the status of bird species, has unparalleled technical expertise in bird and biodiversity assessment, and provides a global outreach through its national Partners and decentralised Secretariat. 
BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is the regional division of BirdLife International, one of the six BirdLife regional offices around the world. It is composed of an international team of permanent staff working on conservation, capacity building, policy, management, finance, fundraising, advocacy, science, communication, marketing and administration. BirdLife Europe supports the European and Central Asia Partnership of BirdLife International, which consists of 48 independent, grassroots Civil Society Organisations, governed by a democratic programme.  

1.2. Context 

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has become an essential tool to ensure sustainable use of European Seas and to thereby contribute to the recovery of our oceans. In spring 2021 EU Member States had to submit their national MSPs for their respective Exclusive Economic Zones to the European Commission (Directive 2014/89/EU). These national MSPs are now due to undergo review, which this consultancy will contribute to. 
The MSP Directive functions in direct synergy with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC). Member States are mandated to apply the ecosystem-based approach and to contribute to achieving good environmental status through the MSP. The national implementation of both Directives should not only be coordinated in synergy in space, but also in time. The Commission stated in its 2020 MSFD implementation report: “Since the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive process integrates all the blue economy sectors and activities, it should enforce management measures that help to achieve good environmental status.”1
Particularly relevant in this context is the recent joint workshop report by IPBES and IPCC on biodiversity and climate change2. Especially in the marine environment the growth of offshore wind and other renewables is high, therefore good care has to be taken by Member States that this does not come at a cost to the marine environment, which would be in direct conflict with the provisions of both MSFD and the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive. 
To what extent Member States have managed to comply with the MSP Directive and indeed the MSFD in their national MSPs will now be assessed. Since 2014 the aim has been to establish a transboundary MSP framework to promote the sustainable growth of maritime economies, the sustainable development of marine areas and the sustainable use of marine resources. When establishing their MSPs, Member States are required to take into account the national context, current and future uses of the ocean and their impacts on the environment, as well as on natural resources, and shall also take into account land-sea interactions. 
National MSPs should aim to contribute to the sustainable development of energy sectors at sea, of maritime transport, and of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, and to the preservation, protection and improvement of the environment, including resilience to climate change impacts. The MSP-Directive further states that “the application of an ecosystem-based approach will contribute to promoting the sustainable development and growth of the maritime and coastal economies and the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources”3 and that “maritime spatial planning should apply an ecosystem-based approach as referred to in Article 1(3) of Directive 2008/56/EC4 with the aim of ensuring that the collective pressure of all activities is kept within levels compatible with the achievement of good environmental status and that the capacity of marine ecosystems to respond to human-induced changes is not compromised, while contributing to the sustainable use of marine goods and services by present and future generations”5. The Directive finally states that MSP should contribute to achieving the aims of the Birds and Habitat Directive6.   
However, the way in which Member States design and implement their marine spatial planning is left to their discretion and therefore creating the potential for different interpretations and applications of the ecosystem-based approach between Member States. 
In 1998, the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the twelve defining principles commonly known as ‘Malawi Principles’7. Since then, the ecosystem-based approach has been firmly established in the literature and many international, regional, and non-governmental organizations have elaborated its application. In particular, HELCOM, has adopted a “Guideline for the implementation of ecosystem-based approach in Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in the Baltic Sea area” in which twelve key principles of the EBA are identified8, WWF has developed in 2021 a guidance paper “Ecosystem-based Maritime Spatial Planning in Europe and how to assess it”9 and BirdLife Europe & Central Asia has published in 2021 a position-paper “How to apply the ecosystem-based approach in Marine Spatial Planning”10.
This consultancy should draw on and build upon these existing documents and guidelines.  


This consultancy will be conducted in the framework of BirdLife’s engagement in the Offshore Coalition for Energy and Nature (OCEaN), which brings together NGOs, wind industry and transmission system operators to cooperate on the sustainable deployment of offshore wind, while ensuring alignment with nature protection and healthy marine ecosystems, and is intended to inform the Coalitions’ engagement in MSP for offshore wind development and environmental protection and to feed into the European Commission’s assessment of MSPs.
BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is looking for a consultant to develop criteria and a methodology, based on the indicators developed in the WWF methodology11 but specifically focused on the conservation, improvement and restoration of the environment, for assessing how well Member States’ MSPs have applied the ecosystem-based approach in their national MSPs and to what extent these contribute to achieving Good Environmental Status (GES). The assessment should be used to identify weaknesses of existing MSPs (and good practices, if identified) and to develop policy recommendations for Member States on how to improve the coherence of MSPs with EU environmental legislation. Specific attention should be given to the synergies between climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation as outlined in the recent IPBES/IPCC report12, so that for example the projected growth in renewables does not come at an environmental cost. 
A user-friendly “assessment tool” should be developed at the end of this consultancy in order for relevant stakeholders to apply the new methodology themselves when evaluating national MSPs.
 Specifically, the consultant should: 
Develop specific criteria and indicators, together with a simple scoring system, focused on the conservation, improvement and restoration of the environment, to assess a) the extent to which the ecosystem-based approach has been applied in the development of MSPs, b) the extent to which the national MSP contributes to achieving GES in the habitats at stake and c) how well the plans align with the objectives of EU environmental legislation (e.g. BHD, MSFD, Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 etc.). The methodology should be as simple and practical as possible, while being scientifically robust (including peer-review). The methodology should function despite the fact that many MSPs will lack detail and specificity.  
Assess at least three MSPs submitted by Member States against the criteria. Results from consultations with relevant stakeholders (e.g. environmental NGOs such as BirdLife National Partners and WWF National Offices) involved in the national MSP processes should be included. The evaluation of national plans should focus on the conservation, improvement and restoration of the environment, and how well the plans align with the objectives of EU environmental legislation (e.g. BHD, MSFD, Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 etc.). 
The consultant should make a proposal for the number of MSPs that can be assessed within the available budget, but it is expected that as a minimum of three plans will be assessed. The consultant should focus on MSPs submitted by countries with a marine area in the North Sea and/or Baltic Sea and should include existing MSP such as the MSP for the Netherlands and Germany.
Develop a brief user-friendly “assessment tool” to allow relevant stakeholders to apply the assessment methodology to other MSPs and guide them through the assessment of the individual criteria.


1. List of specific criteria and indicators for assessing national MSPs success in applying the ecosystem-based approach and contributing to GES, together with a practical scoring methodology.
2. Assessment of at least 3 MSPs against the defined criteria.
3. Draft technical report presenting the results of the assessments and presenting recommendations (a minimum of 4 weeks should be foreseen for BirdLife and other project Partners to review and comment on a first draft of the report) 
4. Final technical report (a minimum of 2 week should be foreseen for review of the final report). 
5. A two-page summary presenting the main findings and policy recommendations of the study that could be presented in an online event. 


A relevant academic degree, or equivalent experience on marine conservation/planning etc. 
Good understanding of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and other EU environmental legislation relevant for the marine environment (e.g. BHD, CFP etc.), including their respective levels of implementation
Good knowledge and understanding of the concept of the ecosystem-based approach and its application in MSP
Knowledge of the EU institutions and other relevant structures related to marine and coastal management in the EU 
Excellent track record of producing technical publications/policy reports 
Ability to fluently speak and write in English


Prospective consultants are invited to submit proposals before 9th of August 2021 12:00 CET. Proposals should be sent to Anouk Puymartin at (by email only) and include the following: 
The CV(s) of the person(s) who will undertake the study. If a team is proposed the roles and responsibilities of each individual should be explained.  
A short description (max 1 page) of the proposed approach to the study. 
A work plan including a proposed start date.  
A financial proposal (VAT excluded). 
Payments will be made upon the satisfactory completion and submission of the outputs/deliverables, as outlined in the work contract. 
The price for the tender must be quoted in Euros. Applicants from countries outside the euro zone must quote their prices in Euros. The price quoted may not be revised in line with exchange rate movements. It is for the applicant to assume the risks or the benefits deriving from any variation. 
The maximum budget available for the study is €10,000 excl. VAT 
If you have any further questions regarding the TORs, please contact Antonio Vulcano at



3. MSP Directive, recital 3


5. MSP Directive, recital 14

6. MSP Directive, recital 15

7. Convention on Biological Diversity, Ecosystem Approach Principles,