Marine ecosystem performance framework (MEsP framework)

IMDC was awarded a Vlaio/Blauwe cluster grant to investigate marine ecosystem performance.

IMDC is member of the MEsP consortium with Arcadis and FKS. The MEsP project is a Vlaio and Blauwe Cluster research project to develop a marine ecosystem performance framework. The objective of the MEsP framework is to prepare the foundations for a business tool for assessing a company’s performance in terms of positive and negative impacts on marine ecosystems, including biodiversity and ecosystem services. We investigate the necessary indicators to quantify the main ecosystem impacts and contributions of blue economy actors and investigate the input (data) and output requirements to translate this into a performance assessment framework related to marine ecosystems. The performance assessment methodology is presented in a dashboard design and allow businesses to score their marine ecosystem performance with respect to their contribution – at project level – to local marine ecosystem targets (good/medium/bad sustainability score).

Are you also struggling to make the added value of your environmental and sustainable efforts explicit? Do you also wonder whether your efforts bring substantial environmental benefits or, objectively speaking, make a negligible contribution to the ecosystem? Do you want to gain more insight into which efforts you can do with substantial environmental benefits? 

The project ‘Development of a Marine Ecosystem Performance Framework (MEsP Framework)’, with the support of Blue Cluster and the Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Flanders, aims to prepare the foundations for a business tool (the MEsP tool) for assessing a company’s performance in terms of impacts and dependencies on natural capital and marine ecosystems. The end goal is to enable companies to measure positive contributions, but also to address negative impacts with nature-based solutions and marine ecosystem restoration measures. In contrast to land-based activities – such a tool is not available for offshore businesses.

The final deliverable of the research project will be the MEsP framework, outlining different building blocks of the tool linked to specific business needs & ambitions, the underpinning methodological approaches, and the metrics to be applied. The information will be presented in a dashboard design and allow businesses to measure negative impacts but also address positive impacts due to investments in nature-based solutions and marine ecosystem restoration and to which extent their business goals are met. An important pillar of the MEsP-framework will be to validate it with relevant business actors and experts in practical case-studies. In this respect, we are setting up a series of workshops to get insight into the overall and sector-specific needs and ambitions of offshore businesses related to ecosystem-based management. 

Concrete results that the research project will produce are: 

  • A set of indicators to quantify the impact of business and its dependencies on the marine ecosystem. The number of indicators will be in accordance with the number of impact categories and interactions, which will depend on the type of business activity. 
  • An assessment of the available data sources on the state of the marine ecosystem. This assessment will be based on accessibility and applicability by the business community. 
  • A performance assessment methodology to allow companies to measure their performance in relation to marine ecosystems. More specifically, the methodology will include a scoring system that will allow companies to evaluate their contribution to local marine ecosystem objectives at project level. 
  • A set of concrete case studies in the Belgian part of the North Sea to validate the above 3 building blocks of the MEsP framework and illustrate their application to potential end-users. 

After the research project, the partners will develop a software tool with on the one hand an open-source community version and on the other hand a closed entrepreneurial version with more modalities. Around the MEsP tool, the partners will in a next step offer different forms of business support and training for the blue economy. Consortium: International Marine & Dredging Consultants nv (IMDC), Arcadis Belgium N.V., FKS – Formal and Knowledge Systems


  • Client: Research project granted by VLAIO
  • Start date: 2022
  • Completion date: 2023