Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Job offer: project coordinator for the Baltic Data Flows project

Please note: application closed

We are currently seeking to recruit an experienced professional and enthusiastic person to strengthen our team at the international HELCOM Secretariat in Helsinki, Finland, as a Project Coordinator for the Baltic Data Flows project.

The appointment is planned to be full time, starting preferably on 18 January 2021 through the end of the project on 30 September 2023. The monthly salary is 3.000 € per month. Please note that the HELCOM salaries are exempt from Finnish income tax.

The tasks are expected to be carried out independently. However, the Project Coordinator will cooperate with the HELCOM staff involved, who will provide comments and general guidance on the overall HELCOM framework.

The tasks require understanding of marine‐related data collection processes and the concept of public and distributed open data. The selected candidate is expected to familiarize herself/himself with the HELCOM data collection and harmonisation processes and practices as well as the objective and concept of the European Data Portal.

Please apply by 2 November 2020.


The update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan and UN Voluntary Commitments are addressed at HELCOM’s annual meeting

The high-level representatives attending HELCOM 41-2020. © HELCOM
Back row, from left to right: Nuritdin Inamov (Russia), Jochen Flasbarth (Germany), Katarzyna Krzywda (Poland), Katrine Nissen (Denmark), Silvija Nora Kalnins (Latvia), Vitalijus Auglys (Lithuania) and Harry Liiv (Estonia).
Front row, from left to right: Veronica Manfredi (EU), Gunvor G. Eriksson (Sweden), Saara Bäck (Chair of HELCOM), Terhi Lehtonen (Finland), Rüdiger Strempel (Executive Secretary of HELCOM).

Actions for a healthier Baltic Sea and HELCOM’s Voluntary Commitments to the UN Ocean Conference 2020 were addressed in Helsinki during the Annual Meeting of the Helsinki Commission – the 41st Meeting of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM 41-2020) – that took place from 4 to 5 March 2020.

The Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) and its update were one of the central themes of the event that also featured a high-level segment attended by high-level representatives such as state secretaries and other high-ranking ministerial representatives of the Baltic Sea countries and the EU. Only Ministerial Meetings rank higher on the HELCOM meeting scale.

“Building on the political will expressed by the ministers in 2018, we are now progressing from words to action, as 2019 marked the beginning of more concrete work on the new BSAP,” said Rüdiger Strempel, the Executive Secretary of HELCOM, in his statement.

Initially set to achieve its objectives by 2021, the BSAP is due to be updated in 2021 as mandated by the HELCOM Contracting Parties during the Ministerial Meeting held in Brussels in 2018. The past months were characterized by translating the political will expressed in 2018 into a concrete roadmap and actions towards the update, such as the analysis of sufficiency of existing measures

In Helsinki, the high-level representatives recognized that clear progress has been made under the current BSAP during the past 13 years. However, they also acknowledged that the level of implementation has not been fully satisfactory and stressed the need to ensure and accelerate the implementation of the actions under both the current and updated BSAP.

Nevertheless, the BSAP remains one of the most effective instruments for a healthy Baltic, offering a long-term vision and strategic orientation, as well as a wide array of science-based actions and measures. The updated BSAP is expected to include considerations on climate change, marine litter, pharmaceuticals, underwater noise, and loss of and disturbance to the seabed, among other pressures.

At HELCOM 41-2020, the representatives particularly highlighted the importance of recognizing climate change as a cross-cutting topic and the need for more knowledge on the impacts and consequence of climate change, therefore regarding the BSAP as an “instrument to strengthen the resilience of the Baltic Sea ecosystem and minimize negative effects of climate change on society,” as stated in the meeting outcome.

Based on the existing plan, the update will maintain at least the same level of ambition as the current plan and include all actions and measures from that plan that have not been implemented yet.

The outcome of the HELCOM Stakeholder Conference 2020, held the day before HELCOM 41 and aimed at gathering input from stakeholders on the BSAP update and that was, was also presented during the session of the high-level representatives who particularly lauded the quality of the engagement of the stakeholders. A total of 49 potentially new BSAP actions were proposed during the event. 

Furthermore, at HELCOM 41-2020, the representatives agreed on submitting five Voluntary Commitments by HELCOM to the 2020 UN Ocean Conference, concurring on: 

  1. updating of the Baltic Sea Action Plan by 2021, 
  2. the development of a HELCOM Science Agenda to contribute to the UN Decade of Ocean Science, 
  3. strengthening cooperation with other Regional Seas Organisations, 
  4. offering strong support for global efforts to address the marine litter problem on a global level, and 
  5. organizing a workshop on ecosystem-based management in support of the UN Decade of Ocean Science. 

The voluntary commitments are part of HELCOM’s concrete efforts on global outreach and on advancing the global ocean agenda. 

During the meeting, a number of HELCOM Recommendations were also adopted or revised by the Contracting Parties, such as the Recommendation on Deep-Sea Pilotage in the Baltic Sea (Recommendation 41/1) and the HELCOM Recommendation on the use of national manure standards (adopted in principle). 

A roadmap on the collection of fisheries data to assess incidental bycatches and fisheries impact on benthic biotopes in the Baltic Sea was also agreed on during the meeting, as was the project proposal on the monitoring of pollution loads to the Baltic Sea (PLC-8).

Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, with Rüdiger Strempel, HELCOM’s Executive Secretary. Germany will assume the chair of HELCOM from 1 July 2020 until 30 June 2022, taking over from Finland.

HELCOM 41-2020 also saw the nomination by Germany of Lilian Busse, Head of the Division of Environmental Health and Protection of Ecosystems of the German Environment Agency, as Chair of the upcoming German chairmanship. Germany will take over from Finland on 1 July 2020, for a period of two years.

The representatives further took note of Germany’s will to increase the political visibility of HELCOM work during its chairmanship, with the BSAP being at the centre of the work, further supporting the Parties in its implementation, and extending invitations to civil society and stakeholders to participate in HELCOM processes.

The high-level segment of HELCOM 41-2020 was attended by Katrine Nissen (Denmark), Harry Liiv (Estonia), Veronica Manfredi (EU), Terhi Lehtonen (Finland), Jochen Flasbarth (Germany), Silvija Nora Kalnins (Latvia), Vitalijus Auglys (Lithuania), Katarzyna Krzywda (Poland), Nuritdin Inamov (Russia) and Gunvor G. Eriksson (Sweden).

Baltic Sea Action Plan: New actions are proposed during HELCOM stakeholder event

Over 120 participants attended the HELCOM Stakeholder Conference 2020 © HELCOM

Concrete actions for a healthier Baltic Sea were proposed in Helsinki this week during the HELCOM Stakeholder Conference 2020 that aimed at gathering feedback from stakeholders on the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), HELCOM’s strategic programme of actions, which is due to be updated by 2021.

A total of 49 new actions to be considered for inclusion in the updated BSAP were voiced during the conference, touching upon a variety of topics such as hazardous substances, marine litter, shipping and other sea-based activities, as well as eutrophication and biodiversity.

Climate change was also heavily emphasized during the conference, as was the issue of implementation of BSAP actions at the national level, where stakeholders felt more progress should be made. Better collaboration between ministries and authorities also featured highly on the participants’ wish list, along breaking “thinking in silos” in favour of a more holistic view of protection of the marine environment of the Baltic Sea.

The conference, titled “For a sustainable Baltic Sea: The Baltic Sea Action Plan beyond 2021”, and that attracted over 120 participants from different organisations such as governments, NGOs, academia and industry, was a direct result of the decision recorded in the HELCOM Ministerial Declaration 2018 to include stakeholders in the BSAP update process.

According to the declaration, the BSAP update should “be strongly communicated with stakeholders, enable knowledge sharing between science and policy across all levels, be developed in a participatory and transparent way at the regional and local levels, including all appropriate stakeholders.”

Although its environmental objective to each good environmental status by 2021 is unlikely to be achieved, the BSAP remains one of the most effective instruments for a healthy Baltic. 

“No other plan or programme offers the same long-term vision and strategic orientation, the same agreement on a holistic set of science-based actions and measures for a healthy Baltic Sea, the same regional and cross-sectoral acceptance,” said Rüdiger Strempel, the Executive Secretary of HELCOM, during the conference.

It is expected that the update of the BSAP will include considerations on climate change, marine litter, pharmaceuticals, underwater noise, and loss and disturbance of seabed, among other pressures. Based on the existing plan, the update will maintain at least the same level of ambition and include all actions and measures from that plan that have not been implemented yet.

The proposed actions gathered from the Stakeholder Conference will now be forwarded to the relevant HELCOM working groups for further consideration and possible additional development within HELCOM and the BSAP update processes.

Highlighting their role in achieving the global ocean targets, the world’s regional seas converge in Helsinki

IMG_3931.jpg
Representatives and experts from the regional seas organisations met in Helsinki from 25 to 27 November 2019. © HELCOM

If not their waters, then at least the experts of the world’s regional seas converged in Helsinki in late November to share best practices on the Sustainable Development Goal related to oceans and seas, SDG 14, and to start preparations on its joint outlook report to be presented at the Ocean Conference 2020.

The HELCOM-hosted workshop that took place in Helsinki from 25 to 27 November was a follow up of the UN Regional Seas Programme‘s Annual Meeting held in Berlin earlier in October and also co-hosted by HELCOM. 

“Our organisations are truly the best place to translate the global visions into action at the regional level,” said the Executive Secretary of HELCOM, Rüdiger Strempel, during his opening remarks in Helsinki, referring to the driving role of the regional sea conventions and bodies on advancing the global environmental targets.

Two of the global frameworks, the SDGs and the Aichi targets, have long been important guidelines for HELCOM in working to conserve the global marine environment. 

“The SDGs and Aichi targets are, in fact omnipresent in our everyday work,” said Strempel, adding that “both have proven to be key to advancing the ocean agenda, and decisively influence the policies we develop, the strategies we devise, the actions we implement.”

“At HELCOM and in the Baltic Sea, we believe that the various regional seas mechanisms can learn a lot from each other,” said Strempel, further stressing that despite HELCOM not directly being linked to the UN system, it continually takes account of the relevant UN goals and processes.

Increasing collaboration with the UN Regional Seas Programme was one of the four HELCOM commitments made during the UN Ocean Conference 2017

The other commitments were to establish a NOx Emission Control Area (NECA) in the Baltic Sea, to strengthen the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan to support ocean-related SDGs, and to identify Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) in the Baltic Sea.

Organised by the UN Regional Seas Programme, facilitated by the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and hosted by HELCOM, the workshop attracted 16 regional sea organisations from all over the world.

HELCOM expert interview: Andris Andrusaitis and Karoliina Koho on BONUS, BANOS and research funding

A hydrobiologist by training and a scientist interested in functioning of aquatic systems, Andris Andrusaitis joined the BONUS Secretariat in 2008 and currently serves as its Acting Executive Director. His responsibilities include the oversight and leading of BONUS’ strategic development. He also leads the implementation of the coordination and support action BANOS CSA “Towards the joint Baltic and North Sea research and innovation programme”.

A biogeologist by training with international research experience in wide range of marine environments, Karoliina Koho joined the BONUS Secretariat in January 2019 as a project officer and is the first point of contact in the coordination of BANOS CSA. 


Q: BONUS is wrapping up: The good, the bad and the ugly – what are your reflections on achievements, challenges…

Andris Andrusaitis: Looking back, I am quite proud of BONUS’ achievements, which has established itself as a transnational strategist and funder of research and innovation in the Baltic Sea region. With BONUS, we created a regional platform for synthesis of regional scientific knowledge and research that wouldn’t be possible at a national level alone.

When we started, in the Baltic Sea region, the scientific sector was already consolidated. Scientists knew each other well and were widely working together. But what was missing was cooperation on the funding of research. Funding was a major challenge, and still is today. In total, BONUS has covered 19 themes with about 100 million euros of funding over the past 16 years. That might seem like a lot at first glance, but it really isn’t. 

On research funding, we need to get better at involving private capital. We haven’t found a straight forward answer yet, but we eventually will need to address this issue. In general, we all would benefit from stronger linkages between academia and the private sector, not just for funding, but also for innovation and advancing science.

Establishing a well-functioning science funding organisation like BONUS takes time, as well as some trial and error. One really needs to be patient and in it for the long run. But with hindsight, we took all the right steps. Of course, we are now much cleverer than we were when we started with BONUS, which is good news for BANOS… 

Speaking of: BANOS. Who, what, where, when, why!

Karoliina Koho: BANOS CSA – the consortium of the Baltic and North Sea Support and Coordination Action – will take BONUS a step further, namely towards the North Sea. Under what we like to call the “sister sea approach”, BANOS CSA is preparing to launch a joint Baltic and North Sea research and innovation programme by 2021. 

Despite both seas having different biochemical characteristics, with the Baltic Sea being a semi-enclosed brackish water body as opposed to a saltier and open North Sea, the similarities are numerous. Both seas are located in the same biogeographic region. Their waters are connected, leading to a natural migration of biota between them. 

Then, there are the pressures that are similar for both, such as climate change, eutrophication, acidification, or oil spills. It therefore makes a lot of sense to jointly address the Baltic Sea and the North Sea when it comes to research.

With BANOS, we want to create a joint strategic research agenda across the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Scoping tasks are already well underway, and so is the mapping of the national and transnational cooperation agenda and key priorities. Now, we are currently moving towards finalising the tasks within the drafting team. 

The planned programme will strongly focus on sustainable blue growth, underpinning EU and national policies and strategies on that topic within the region.

All in all, BANOS CSA should lead to a well-funded platform for the new joint research funding programme to take off. And just like BONUS, the new platform will be an enabler for policy-science interaction in northern Europe.



How can science be more relevant for policy making (and the other way around)?

Andris Andrusaitis: Policy-science interaction is paramount, as research and projects that we are funding need to have some sort of effect. At BONUS, we are tuning all our calls towards practical impacts and evidence-based policy. I believe that our projects have all delivered on that, with many BONUS projects influencing policy processes within the region.  

A good example is the collaboration between BONUS and HELCOM, with the Joint BONUS-HELCOM Conference: Research and Innovation for Sustainabilityheld earlier in November 2018 or the presentation of BONUS projects at HELCOM’s Annual Meeting in March 2019.

But policy-science interaction is not a one-way flow. There is also a top-down direction, where policy has to set its own agenda on science, research and innovation. Decision-makers need to express their own requirements for making better policies and taking informed decisions. 

Even if policy is often running on short-term election cycles, we must not forget the long-term perspective on the mitigation of pressures. For instance, environmental challenges such as climate change or eutrophication might take decades if not centuries to be fully resolved. Science clearly has its role in building a long-term understanding on how to best address the current environmental challenges. Without science, the current pressures on the environment won’t be resolved.

Do you have more examples of good interaction between policy and science?

Andris Andrusaitis: The Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) is a prime example of good policy-science interaction. The BSAP spans over several years, over several election cycles, and has been developed with the long-term in mind. Even its current update allows to fathom in new challenges. The update offers an opportunity to adjust the measures and actions to be fit for purpose, and to incorporate the latest scientific findings. 

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) is another good example of longer-term vision. It has a cross-sectoral and systemic approach to solving issues. It includes a variety of sectors and stakeholders, such as from maritime spatial planning, transport or fisheries. Working across and with all sectors involved in the marine environment will be a key to success. And so is working at the regional level, which we are now addressing with BANOS CSA.

Then, in our own house, it is worthwhile mentioning the BONUS COCOA project on coastal processes of biochemical transformation, that is looking into utilizing our coasts as natural filters to prevent nutrients and hazardous substances from entering the sea. BONUS COCOA had a substantial impact on environmental policies, such as the BSAP, by ensuring that management decisions are informed by science. It also triggered a strong engagement in policy discussions on geoengineering approaches to mitigate coastal hypoxia. 

Another good example is the BONUS BAMBI project on genetics and biodiversity. The project collects evidence on the capacity of species to adapt, notably to climate change. But what is interesting in BAMBI is that the project also includes a social science researcher, to ensure higher relevance for the policy sector and maximise concrete usability of the findings. 

Baltic Sea/Seas of Norden: what will be the hot topics in the years to come?

Andris Andrusaitis: In our line of work, we foresee a major interest on advancing the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), with the thematic priorities on healthy seas, sustainable blue economy, and human well-being. The question is: what should we know to get there? What are the knowledge needs? The answers to this will surely guide the future research agenda in the Baltic and North Sea region. To connect these priorities, the ecosystem-based approach will highly feature on our agenda. Here, the considerations will be on how to connect us humans to the sea, for us to take advantage of its resources without disrupting its ecological balance.

Also, we need to refocus on sustainability. As much as we have been talking about sustainable blue growth, there is a risk that “sustainable” part could be largely forgotten. Furthermore, we also need to address multi-stressor and cumulative impacts stemming from the combination of pressures such as excessive nutrient inputs, hazardous substances and climate change.

Currently, the centre of attention is on plastic pollution, which is good, but not necessarily the most pressing issue. On the other hand, if we manage to solve plastic pollution, we can start to look into more complex issues such as impacts of climate change, eutrophication and acidification. These really are the crucial questions, which will require massive efforts on modelling and projection, for us to understand the underlying mechanisms and develop solutions. Our focus should clearly be there.

At HELCOM key meeting, updates on the plan for a healthy Baltic Sea move forward

During HOD 55-2018 in Helsinki © Helcom 2018Helsinki — The update of the (BSAP) was a central topic at the (HOD 55-2018) held from 4 to 5 December 2018 at the HELCOM Secretariat in Helsinki, Finland. Initially set to end in 2021, the BSAP is HELCOM’s strategic tool for a healthy Baltic Sea that sets ecological targets and measures for achieving good environmental status of the sea.  At HOD 55-2018, the meeting participants notably focussed on the evaluation of the efficiency of current measures. Understanding what actions work and what don’t for a Baltic Sea in a better shape will be key for the update process.The BSAP’s continuation had already been decided by the HELCOM Ministers earlier in 2018, who then also agreed on a closer consideration of the , and in the update.In Helsinki, on pressures on the marine environment, the HELCOM Heads of Delegation (HODs) also approved the latest assessment of nutrient input to the Baltic Sea covering the period from 1995 to 2016. The indicator shows progress in reduction of inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus, by 16 percent and 25 percent respectively.However, for the entire sea, the levels of maximum allowable inputs (MAI) of nutrients have been exceed, and the Baltic Sea remains heavily eutrophic notably due to the accumulation of nutrients over the past decades.To address this issue, and following up on the commitment made earlier in 2018 by the HELCOM Ministers to gain a better understanding of internal nutrient reserves and their management, the HELCOM Heads of Delegation agreed to establish a taskforce on sea-based measures for nutrient reduction.The HELCOM taskforce will elaborate a risk assessment framework and regional principles as guidance for internal nutrient reserves management.The HODs also welcomed the finalization of the (PLC-6) project, and agreed on the publication of its executive summary that notably shows nutrient input to the Baltic Sea and progress in their reduction. The current assessment, PLC-7, is ongoing and results are expected by end of 2020.The (PLC) is essential part of HELCOM work aimed at assessment of the environmental pressure on Baltic Sea marine ecosystem from land based pollution sources.On climate change, the Heads of Delegation established the new joint HELCOM-Baltic Earth Expert Network on Climate Change (EN CLIME). EN CLIME is expected to start its activities early 2019. HELCOM and Baltic Earth joined forces to work towards increasing the resilience of the Baltic Sea to the impacts of climate change.HOD 55-2018 also commended the outreach and advocacy role of HELCOM on the international stage. Offering best-practices and its expertise on ocean management at the global level, HELCOM currently contributes, among others, to the (WOA II), the , and the (EBSAs) under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Meeting was attended by participants from all and by observers from the Baltic Farmers’ Forum on Environment (BFFE), the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation (BSSSC) and CPMR Baltic Sea Commission, Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB), Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP), Race For The Baltic and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).The Heads of Delegation are the nationally designated representatives of the HELCOM Contracting Parties.***Note for editors For immediate release About HELCOMHELCOM is an intergovernmental organization working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea, with its members – so-called Contracting Parties – being Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. HELCOM (short for the Helsinki Commission, and its official name, the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission) is the governing body of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, also known as the Helsinki Convention. The Helsinki Convention was established in 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution. HELCOM’s vision for the future is a healthy Baltic Sea environment with diverse biological components functioning in balance, resulting in a good ecological status and supporting a wide range of sustainable economic and social activities. ***For more information, please contact:Dominik LittfassCommunication Secretary+358 40 647 3996 

The update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) was a central topic at the 55th Meeting of the HELCOM Heads of Delegation (HOD 55-2018) held from 4 to 5 December 2018 at the HELCOM Secretariat in Helsinki, Finland.

Environmental dialogue at international Baltic forum in Russia

The two-day XIX Baltic Sea Day forum in St. Petersburg, Russia gathered hundreds of participantsTalks followed up on themes of 2018 HELCOM Ministerial MeetingGathering around 500 participants from administration, science, business, NGOs, and the mass media, the 19th International Environmental Forum “Baltic Sea Day”, supported by HELCOM, was arranged 22–23 March in St. Petersburg, Russia. The long-running yearly event represents a valuable opportunity for exchange of research and ideas between many sectors and on all levels, from regional to national and local. The Forum was attended by representatives from all Baltic Sea states, several other European countries, and Belarus, as well as almost all Federal States of Russia situated in the Baltic Sea catchment area, including Kaliningrad region, Karelia, Novgorod region, Leningrad oblast and St. Petersburg.At the opening of the Forum, a solemn moment was devoted to Mr Leonid Korovin, a driving force of the Baltic Sea Day tradition, who passed away last summer. Reviewing themes of HELCOM Ministerial Meeting The cornerstone of the Forum discussions was the outcome of the recent , held in Brussels, Belgium on 6 March. The newly-adopted Ministerial Declaration represents a strong commitment to renewed efforts for the Baltic Sea. The introductory plenary session at the Baltic Sea Day Forum highlighted on two of the main themes of the Declaration: stronger follow-through on the existing (BSAP) and updating the BSAP beyond its current deadline of 2021.High-level panel participants, from left: Natalia Tretiakova (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation), Nuritdin Inamov (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation), Monika Stankiewicz (HELCOM Executive Secretary), Hannele Pokka (Ministry of Environment, Finland), Matjaz Malgaj (European Union, HELCOM Vice-Chair). Photo: Sara Estlander / HELCOM.A highlight of the Forum was a high-level panel discussion, featuring Mr Matjaz Malgaj (European Commission, HELCOM Vice-Chair), Dr Hannele Pokka (Ministry of Environment, Finland), Ms Natalia Tretiakova (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation), and Ms Monika Stankiewicz (HELCOM Executive Secretary). The panel was moderated by Mr Nuritdin Inamov of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation.The panel focused on BSAP implementation, discussing questions such as what the major obstacles are for implementing the BSAP and how to overcome them, what contribution the trilateral Gulf of Finland cooperation has had to BSAP implementation, and how BSAP implementation could be enforced. Other themes included the nutrient recycling strategy to be developed within HELCOM, and the relation between HELCOM and EU policies in other regions.From MSP to municipalities and manureAside from plenaries and panels, participants took part in roundtable discussions on subjects such as nutrient recycling in agriculture, sustainable water management, and maritime spatial planning as a marine conservation tool. Other roundtable themes included the role of municipalities in implementing the Baltic Sea Action Plan, and environmental education and awareness. The project held its national (Russian) kick-off meeting within the framework of the Forum. During the second Forum day, the project held a workshop on impacts from ship emissions and on the possibilities of collaboration in the Baltic Sea Region.Throughout the presentations and discussions, there was a strong focus on the great value of sharing experiences between regions and sectors.This year, Ms Natalia Kutaeva, Vice Chair of HELCOM Maritime Group and Councellor to the Director, Marine Rescue Service of Rosmorrechflot, and Ms Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM Executive Secretary, were presented with the Order of Vernadsky award “For personal contributions to the development of cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region” of the V.I. Vernadsky Ecological Fund. The Order of Verdnasky award was also presented to Ms Olga Rublevskaya SUE “Vodokanal of St. Petersburg”, Mr Ivan Serebritsky, Committee for Nature Use, Environmental Protection and Ecological Safety of St. Petersburg, and Ms Liudmila Vesikko, Finnish Environment Institute. The Forum was organized by the Government of St. Petersburg and State Company Mineral, and supported by HELCOM, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, and the Environmental Committee of St. Petersburg.The XIX Baltic Sea Day was arranged in the new EXPOFORUM venue. In parallel with the Forum, the exhibition “Ecology in the Big City” was presented in an adjacent hall. For more information, see the with full programme and speakers. Twitter hashtag: * * * Note for editorsThe Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention. * * * For more information, please contact:Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky Professional Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 630 9933 Skype: helcom68 E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.fi  

The two-day XIX Baltic Sea Day forum in St. Petersburg, Russia gathered hundreds of participants. Talks followed up on themes of 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting.

HELCOM agreement reached on next steps for a healthy Baltic Sea

​With three years remaining to reach the original deadline for a healthy Baltic Sea in 2021, the Ministers of the Environment and High-Level Representatives of the nine Baltic coastal countries and the European Union, meeting today in Brussels, Belgium, have agreed on new commitments for the Baltic marine environment. The ocean-related UN Sustainable Development Goals form a framework for the commitments.After intensive discussions, the Baltic Sea community today decided on renewed efforts for a healthy marine environment. Convening at the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, the responsible Ministers, the EU Commissioner, and other high-level representatives reached an agreement that includes an update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan, intensified efforts to reach the goals of the existing Plan, and a regional strategy for nutrient recycling.High-level representatives at the 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, from left: Jānis Eglīts (Vice Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia), Camilla Gunell (Deputy Head of Government and Environmental Minister, Government of Åland), Karmenu Vella (Commissioner for the Environment, European Commission), Kęstutis Navickas (Minister of Environment, Lithuania), Barbara Hendricks (Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany), Siim Kiisler (Minister of the Environment, Estonia), Kimmo Tiilikainen (Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Finland), Nuritdin Inamov (Director of the Department for International Cooperation and Board member of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Russia), Anna Moskwa (Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Poland), Esben Lunde Larsen (Minister for Environment and Food, Denmark), Marianne Wenning (Chair, HELCOM), Monika Stankiewicz (Executive Secreatary, HELCOM), Karolina Skog (Minister for the Environment, Sweden).Updated roadmap to a restored marine environmentThe Ministerial Meeting today agreed to update the (BSAP) – the concrete roadmap for restoring the ecological balance of the Baltic Sea – by 2021. The updated BSAP will include new measures that are needed to achieve the existing goals: a Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophication, a Baltic Sea with life undisturbed by hazardous substances, maritime activities carried out in an environmentally friendly way, and favourable conservation status of the Baltic Sea biodiversity. Recognizing that some actions agreed upon in the original BSAP are yet to be completed, the Meeting also decided on renewed efforts to fulfil the existing BSAP by 2021. Particular focus will be put on addressing those pressures that the report identified as most widely-distributed and harmful, including excess nutrients, contamination, underwater noise, invasive alien species, excessive extraction of fish, and physical disturbance of the seabed. Among other things, the Meeting decided to elaborate regional and national actions to limit the impacts of underwater noise on sensitive marine species.In a significant move towards curbing eutrophication, the Meeting participants committed to developing a Baltic-wide nutrient recycling strategy by 2020, aiming for reduced nutrient inputs to the Baltic Sea and for more efficient use of nutrients. The regional policy will support countries in creating a sustainable and environmentally safe scheme for recycling nutrients in agriculture and from sewage sludge.”HELCOM is a true example of successful regional ocean governance,” states Mr Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment. “The Baltic Sea Region is leading the way with marine protected areas now covering more than 12% of the Sea. It has been designated as Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Emissions Control Area. But we need to step up efforts to address other challenges such as eutrophication, marine litter and underwater noise. The Declaration adopted under EU Presidency by the HELCOM Ministers confirms the commitment by its members to work together to achieve a healthy Baltic Sea.”  HELCOM to coordinate the workA common thread to the decisions made at the Meeting were the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030. The countries around the Baltic Sea have previously agreed to use HELCOM as the regional arena for coordinating work on those SDGs that relate to marine and water issues. The Meeting agreed that the SDGs will be used as a framework when updating the BSAP. The Meeting participants also higlighted the cooperation within HELCOM as a good example that has much to give to other regional seas in the world.The outcome of the Meeting – the Ministerial Declaration – forms the concrete framework for the following years’ work for a healthier Baltic Sea. The work will take place within the long tradition of regional HELCOM cooperation, based on best available expertise, and involving all countries and the EU and various sector ministries within countries.The Ministerial Meeting was chaired by HELCOM Chair Ms Marianne Wenning. Representing HELCOM members were Mr Karmenu Vella (Commissioner for the Environment, European Commission), Mr Esben Lunde Larsen (Minister for Environment and Food, Denmark), Mr Siim Kiisler (Minister of the Environment, Estonia), Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen (Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Finland), Dr Barbara Hendricks (Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany), Mr Kęstutis Navickas (Minister of Environment, Lithuania), Ms Karolina Skog (Minister for the Environment, Sweden), Mr Jānis Eglīts (Vice Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia), Ms Anna Moskwa (Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Poland), and Mr Nuritdin Inamov (Director of the Department for International Cooperation and Board member of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Russia).The entire Ministerial Declaration is available online at: Twitter hashtag: * * *More information (PDF) (first version 2017 – to be updated 2018)Note for editorsThe 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting will be held on 6 March in Brussels, Belgium, under the EU chairmanship of HELCOM. The Ministers of the Environment of the nine Baltic coastal states and the EU Environment Commissioner will gather to discuss the status and the future of the Baltic Sea marine environment. The outcome of the 2018 Ministerial Meeting is expected to revolve around new actions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea, strengthening implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan by 2021, and adjusting the Baltic Sea Action Plan based on new knowledge and future challenges. More information on the .The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. HELCOM has worked since 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. HELCOM is the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area,” more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.For further information, please contact:Ms Monika Stankiewicz Executive Secretary HELCOM +358 40 840 2471 monika.stankiewicz(at)helcom.fiMs Sara Estlander Communication Coordinator HELCOM +358 40 482 6103 sara.estlander(at)helcom.fi

The Ministers of the Environment and High-Level Representatives of the nine Baltic coastal countries and the European Union, meeting today in Brussels, Belgium, have agreed on new commitments for the Baltic marine environment.

Baltic Sea community to decide on renewed efforts for a healthy Baltic Sea

 Today, at the 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, the Baltic Sea countries and the EU come together to decide on renewed efforts to reach a healthy Baltic marine environment. HELCOM – the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – is the arena in which the nine Baltic coastal states and the European Union work together to protect and restore the marine environment of the Baltic Sea. At the today, the responsible Ministers, the EU Commissioner, and other high-level representatives meet to assess the progress made towards reaching a good environmental status in the Baltic Sea. The outcome – the Ministerial Declaration – will form the framework for the following years’ work for a healthier Baltic Sea, following the long tradition of regional HELCOM cooperation.New information to guide new actionsThe recent shows that in spite of some positive signals, the efforts so far have not led to the recovery of the Baltic Sea. This is the first time that a comprehensive assessment of ecosystem health on this scale, based on a wide range of indicators and information on human activities and their impacts, is available as background information for a HELCOM Ministerial Meeting. “Thanks to thorough groundwork, we now understand better than before how the different pressures add up on specific areas, species and habitats in the Baltic Sea,” says HELCOM Chair Ms Marianne Wenning. “Because of this, we know more about what’s important to consider with regard to managing human activities. In this way informed choices can be made in order to reduce environmental pressures.”One reason that the Baltic marine environment has not yet recovered is the long delay between cause and effect, due to the natural features of the Baltic Sea. Further, some actions agreed upon in the (BSAP) from 2007 – the concrete roadmap for restoring the ecological balance of the Baltic Sea – are yet to be completed. In addition, some aspects of the environment have so far not been addressed in Baltic-wide plans and policies.Stepping up and raising the barIn light of this new information, an important part of the Ministerial Meeting today will be to decide both on stronger follow-through on the existing BSAP and on a blueprint and timeframe for updating the BSAP. The current Baltic Sea Action Plan aims for a healthy Baltic Sea by 2021, and rests on actions aimed at eutrophication, hazardous substances, biodiversity, and maritime activities. In the discussions leading up to the Ministerial Meeting, marine litter, underwater noise, and seabed damage and disturbance have been raised as possible additional issues for countries to follow up on more strongly, striving to limit adverse effects by increasing efforts and coordination at regional level. At the Meeting, the high-level representatives will decide on the next steps for these themes: e.g., whether action plans will be developed, whether indicators will be developed to measure these issues, and so on. The Meeting is also expected to follow up on the existing Regional Action Plan for marine litter. The high-level representatives at the Meeting are also set to finalize discussions on a possible future HELCOM strategy regarding nutrient recycling in the Baltic Sea area. This has been one of the goals of the EU chairmanship of HELCOM, as part of the target of promoting sustainable agricultural practices. Nutrient recycling is essential for reducing nutrient losses to the Baltic Sea and for efficiently using the limited nutrient resources.Meeting global goalsA common thread to the themes of the Meeting are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030. The countries around the Baltic Sea have agreed to use HELCOM as the regional arena for coordinating work on those SDGs that relate to marine and water issues. The Meeting follows up on the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York in June 2017, where HELCOM made several towards SDG 14 – “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.”The marine environment is threatened in many parts of the world’s oceans and the problems are often of a global nature,” says Ms Wenning. “Many of the UN SDGs are related to the state of seas and oceans so our work can serve as an important contribution to many of the SDGs goals.”The Ministerial Meeting will be chaired by HELCOM Chair Marianne Wenning of the EU. Expected to participate on behalf of HELCOM members are Mr Karmenu Vella (Commissioner for the Environment, European Commission), Mr Esben Lunde Larsen (Minister for Environment and Food, Denmark), Mr Siim Kiisler (Minister of the Environment, Estonia), Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen (Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Finland), Dr Barbara Hendricks (Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany), Mr Kęstutis Navickas (Minister of Environment, Lithuania), Ms Karolina Skog (Minister for the Environment, Sweden), Mr Jānis Eglīts (Vice Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia), Ms Anna Moskwa (Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Poland), and Mr Nuritdin Inamov (Director of the Department for International Cooperation and Board member of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Russia).The entire Ministerial Declaration will be available online after the meeting at: Twitter hashtag:  * * *More informationReport (PDF, 2 MB) (first version 2017 – to be updated 2018), June 2017, New York NOTE FOR EDITORSThe will be held on 6 March in Brussels, Belgium, under the EU chairmanship of HELCOM. The Ministers of the Environment of the nine Baltic coastal states and the EU Environment Commissioner will gather to discuss the status and the future of the Baltic Sea marine environment. The outcome of the 2018 Ministerial Meeting is expected to revolve around new actions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea, strengthening implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan by 2021, and adjusting the Baltic Sea Action Plan based on new knowledge and future challenges. The background to the Meeting is provided by two major reports: (PDF) and (first version 2017 – to be updated 2018).The , usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. HELCOM has worked since 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. HELCOM is the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area,” more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.FOR FURTHER information, PLEASE CONTACT:Ms Monika Stankiewicz Executive Secretary HELCOM +358 40 840 2471 monika.stankiewicz(at)helcom.fiMs Sara Estlander Communication Coordinator HELCOM +358 40 482 6103 sara.estlander(at)helcom.fi

Today, at the 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, the Baltic Sea countries and the EU come together to decide on renewed efforts to reach a healthy Baltic marine environment.

HELCOM Ministerial Meeting to draw up course of action for the Baltic Sea

 High-level representatives of the Baltic Sea countries meet in Brussels on 6 March to discuss state and future of the Baltic marine environment. Talks focus on how to achieve a healthy Baltic Sea in light of current regional targets and global goals.  The 2021 target year of the HELCOM (BSAP), adopted in 2007 and aiming to restore the good ecological status of the Baltic marine environment, is only three years away. HELCOM’s latest assessments show that while much has been accomplished, and in spite of some positive signals, the efforts so far have not led to the recovery of the Baltic Sea.  The , to be held on 6 March in Brussels under the two-year of HELCOM, will discuss the current state of the Baltic Sea as well as draw up a course of action to safeguard its future. The Meeting will be chaired by HELCOM Chair Marianne Wenning. Strengthened BSAP implementation neededOne of the duties of HELCOM – the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – is to regularly follow up on the implementation of agreed-upon actions for the Baltic marine environment. A new HELCOM report (), published just ahead of the Ministerial Meeting, summarizes 177 of the actions with concrete BSAP targets and the extent to which they have been completed.The report shows that as of 2017, nearly 70 % of joint actions (carried out jointly through HELCOM) in the Baltic Sea Action Plan have been implemented. Examples of completed joint actions include developing a Regional Action Plan on marine litter, preparing a ban on discharge of untreated sewage from passenger ships, and adopting a HELCOM Recommendation on sustainable aquaculture.Of the actions that require steps to be taken at the national level, 23% are completed by all countries and an additional 62% completed by some of the countries. Actions that all countries have completed include, for instance, ratifying Annex VI of MARPOL 73/78 convention on prevention of air pollution from ships, developing long-term management plans for sprat and herring, and conserving at least ten wild salmon populations in the Baltic Sea region.The Ministerial Meeting is expected to decide on intensified efforts and stronger follow-through on the BSAP, both to reach regional goals and to fulfil the Agenda 2030 in the region. New and developing issues in future policiesIn addition to working for existing goals, the Ministerial Meeting is tasked with planning for the years after the current BSAP target year of 2021. Advancing scientific knowledge and new emerging issues, such as impacts from pharmaceuticals and micro-pollutants, call for the Baltic Sea community to continously learn and adapt their actions. Long-term changes like climate change affect the status of the environment, and must also be addressed when updating Baltic Sea policies and measures for future goals.The Meeting will also follow up on the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York in June 2017, where HELCOM made several towards SDG 14 – “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”. The countries around the Baltic Sea have agreed to use HELCOM as the regional arena for coordinating work on those SDGs that relate to marine and water issues. The four goals of the BSAPThe ambitious vision of the Baltic Sea Action Plan is a healthy Baltic Sea environment, with diverse biological components functioning in balance, resulting in good environmental/ecological status and supporting a wide range of sustainable human economic and social activities. The more specific goals of the BSAP are to achieve a Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophicationa Baltic Sea undisturbed by hazardous substancesenvironmentally friendly maritime activities, and favourable status of Baltic Sea biodiversity.For each goal, the BSAP specifies a number of more specific objectives and actions, which have later been supplemented in HELCOM Ministerial Declarations in 2010 and 2013. Adopted by all the coastal states and the EU in 2007, the BSAP provides a concrete basis for HELCOM work. * * *More informationReport (PDF), June 2017, New York Note for editorsThe 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting will be held on 6 March in Brussels, Belgium, under the EU chairmanship of HELCOM. The Ministers of the Environment of the nine Baltic coastal states and the EU Environment Commissioner will gather to discuss the status and the future of the Baltic Sea marine environment. The outcome of the 2018 Ministerial Meeting is expected to revolve around new actions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea, strengthening implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan by 2021, and adjusting the Baltic Sea Action Plan based on new knowledge and future challenges. More information on the .The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. HELCOM has worked since 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. HELCOM is the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area,” more usually known as the Helsinki Convention. For further information, please contact:Ms Monika Stankiewicz Executive Secretary HELCOM +358 40 840 2471 monika.stankiewicz(at)helcom.fiMs Sara Estlander Communication Coordinator HELCOM +358 40 482 6103 sara.estlander(at)helcom.fi

High-level representatives of the Baltic Sea countries meet in Brussels on 6 March to discuss state and future of the Baltic marine environment