Integrated Spatial Planning

In this self-paced course, you will learn how countries can use spatial data to achieve nature, climate, and sustainable development ambitions simultaneously.

Duration: 5 modules
 Course type: Self-paced course
 Languages: English, French, Spanish
 Estimated effort: 3-5 hours per module
Organizers: United Nations Development Programme, GEF Global Biodiversity Framework - Early Action Support, PacMARA
Donors: One Earth, The Global Environment Facility (The GEF), The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Sida
Contributors: Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute, Central Region of Colombia (RAP-E), Department of Forests, Fisheries, and the Environment of South Africa (DFFE), Department of Geospatial Information Service of Cambodia (DGIS), Government of Costa Rica, Government of Uganda, Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica (MINAE), Impact Observatory, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic (MIMARENA), Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia, Ministry of Environment of Cambodia (MoE), Ministry of Environment of Chile (MMA), Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM), Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Haiti, Ministry of Environment, Water, and Ecological Transition of Ecuador (MAATE), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), National Center of Geospatial Information of Haiti (CNIGS), National Service for Natural Areas Protected by the State of Peru (SERNAP), and South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

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This decade is humanity’s last best chance to address the ongoing nature and climate crises. The implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework is of vital importance to our response. The Framework’s four global goals and targets aim to catalyze transformative action for biodiversity in this decade. This transformation will only be possible by harnessing the power of spatial data tools to support inclusive data-informed planning.

Are you interested in learning how to apply a data-driven approach to integrated planning for biodiversity, climate, and sustainable development? Do you want to be at the forefront of mainstreaming biodiversity in national climate and development policies? The United Nations Development Programme and PacMARA are pleased to offer a FREE self-paced course on Integrated Spatial Planning. This five-module course draws on the Essential Life Support Areas (ELSA) methodology, developed by UNDP and partners for using spatial data to identify areas where nature-based actions can support in halting biodiversity loss, addressing climate change, and fostering sustainable development based on the experiences of 12 pilot countries. The course was developed with funding support from the GEF and Sida.

In this course, you’ll discover how this integrated spatial planning methodology is helping countries create their own ‘Maps of Hope’ to chart a course for action on nature, climate, and sustainable development. You will also learn how integrated spatial planning can support the national efforts towards the goals and targets of the new Framework, including Target 1, which sets the ambition of ensuring that all areas are under participatory, integrated and biodiversity inclusive spatial planning and/or effective management processes to bring loss of areas of high biodiversity importance close to zero.

Course structure

The course will cover the following topics:

  • Module 1: Introduction to 'Mapping Hope'
  • Module 2: Creating a national 'Map of Hope' vision
  • Module 3: Co-creating a 'Map of Hope'
  • Module 4: Mainstreaming 'Map of Hope' results
  • Module 5: 'Maps of Hope' across the world

Course highlights and outcomes

  • Gain an understanding of the steps in the ELSA process and learn how to lay the groundwork for this process in your country
  • Join a community-of-practice committed to mainstreaming biodiversity in national policy
  • Receive a certificate of completion from the course partners

Learning objectives

By the time the course is completed, you will:

  • Learn how integrated spatial planning is revolutionizing the way that countries are making decisions around nature, climate, and sustainable development
  • Understand how to work with diverse stakeholders to come to a common agreement on national policy priorities
  • Learn about the process to collect and transform data to serve as the basis of a ‘Map of Hope’
  • Learn about the process of customizing a ‘Map of Hope’ that indicates how and where action can be taken to achieve national priorities around nature, climate, and sustainable development, including the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework Target 1
  • Become familiar with the steps to review and refine a ‘Map of Hope’ with national experts and mainstream the results into the national policy landscape
  • Be able to effectively communicate integrated spatial planning results to experts and general audiences alike

Course completion requirements

To receive the certificate of course completion, you must:

  • Complete all online lessons
  • Pass five quizzes
  • Complete the course survey

Click “Enroll” to register for the course. If you have any questions, please contact the Learning for Nature team at

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Course Includes

  • 8 Modules
  • 21 Activities
  • 5 quizzes
  • Course Certificate

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