The new video explains in a nutshell, why the Holistic Assessments on the State of the Baltic Sea (HOLAS) are so important. The next assessment, HOLAS 3, will be released in 2023.
For getting a sufficient level of information on the state of the entire sea area, and for seeing any improvement or deterioration caused by current human activities, such large-scale assessments must be prepared at regular intervals. The HOLAS assessments provide regular updates on the environmental situation in the Baltic Sea and, with each report captures a ‘moment’ in the dynamic life history of the Baltic Sea.
The forthcoming HOLAS 3 report highlights a broad range of aspects, covering the state of the ecosystem, environmental pressures and human well-being. It contributes to a vast sharing of knowledge, and to the development of knowledge, both within and across topics.
The focus of the assessment is to show results of relevance at the regional scale, and large-scale patterns between geographic areas.
More than 200 participants joined online to learn more about the regional effects of climate change in the Baltic Sea, on the first day of the Baltic Stakeholder Conference (BSC2022) on 26 September 2022. The recording is now available. The full outcome, including the summaries of the second day workshops, will be uploaded to the event web page later.
The effects of climate change are already evident in the Baltic Sea. However, they are often not easy to understand and can be difficult to distinguish from other anthropogenic pressures. There is large variation between different regions in the Baltic Sea, ruling out simple management solutions.
One key purpose of the Conference was to present the key outtakes of the Climate Change in the Baltic Sea Fact Sheet, as well as present the outcomes of the HELCOM Blue Carbon Workshop. Moreover, the 1-hour panel was organized to particularly stimulate and gather views on climate change mitigation and adaptation from policymakers, research community and other stakeholders in the Baltic Sea region.
The Conference was moderated by Jannica Haldin, Deputy Executive Secretary of HELCOM.
Delivered by: Sebastian Unger, First Marine Commissioner, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection of Germany; Marcus Reckermann, Head of the International Baltic Earth Secretariat; and Rüdiger Strempel, Executive Secretary, HELCOM
Humankind is in essence fully dependent on healthy oceans as allies in the fight against climate change. It is crucially important to tackle the current triple crises of climate change, biodiversity and pollution also impacting the Baltic Sea marine environment.
Collaboration between HELCOM and Baltic Earth, a key alliance underlying the Conference, has lasted for close to twenty years and can be viewed as a model for channelling scientific findings into the regional political process. The most recent joint publication of the two organizations is the 2021 Climate Change Fact Sheet.
Climate change impacts and risks are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to manage, states the 2022 IPCC Assessment Report. The global community, following e.g. the Paris Agreement context, as well all the commitments made at the national level, play a crucial part on climate change mitigation, while the regional level efforts, such as the new climate actions set in the 2021 HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan update, are prominent in tackling the challenges regionally, at a sea basin level.
Climate Change in the Baltic Sea – state of affairs
Diving deeper into the topic through keynote presentations (available here):
Baltic Earth/HELCOM fact sheet on climate change in the Baltic Sea. Markus Meier, Chair of the Baltic Earth Science Steering Group, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde
Blue Carbon in the Baltic Sea Region – Excerpts from HELCOM Workshop 2021. Manuela Krakau, Scientific Officer, German Environment Agency (UBA)
Climate projections for the Baltic Sea Region. Erik Kjellström, Climate researcher, Swedish Meteorological Hydrological Institute (SMHI)
Johanna Källén Fox, Director, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
Markus Meier, Chair of the Baltic Earth Science Steering Group, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde
Henna Rinne, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Environment of Finland
Evija Šmite, Chair of HELCOM, Deputy Director General and the Director of Fisheries Control Department, State Environmental Service of Latvia
Rüdiger Strempel, Executive Secretary, HELCOM
What is the added value of regional level work to climate change mitigation?
For creating a healthy ecosystem that is resilient, we need cooperation, as we all know that the sea knows no boundaries. The less we do in mitigation, the more we will have to do in the adaptation later. Blue carbon could be a good goal.
Baltic Sea region is rather specific in many respects, there are many stressors acting on the ecosystem both at sea and from land which differ from any other place in the world.
Having a regional perspective in climate adaptation certainly has added value of, as many aspects – mitigation, Marine Protected Areas, climate refugees, among others – really make it necessary to consider climate change in regional account.
The Climate Change Fact Sheet concisely sets the scene for the work that needs to be done, and it takes well into account the complexities of different human uses, biodiversity etc. Identifying the links is essential in the Baltic Sea protection and HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan has nicely included them.
One should “think globally, act regionally”, not only locally. Regional cooperation is crucial and necessary, and a well-functioning regional organization is fundamental in succeeding in it.
Baltic Sea Region has traditionally cooperated, beyond HELCOM, for centuries. Other advantages are avoid duplication of efforts and maximizing synergies, for more efficient results.
No time to lose
We also have a problem with time scales: impacts of climate change are documented to come faster than expected. Will we lose the natural Baltic Sea carbon storage capacity faster than we can act?
Moreover, climate change is also complex in terms of needs for society and environment to leave space for nature “do its job” to naturally recover, which takes time.
We must act with limited knowledge already now; the uncertainties are large, but we know now more than, there is a lot of information that we can already now use in marine management. And at the same time, we constantly increase our knowledge.
The problem of climate change has been known for decades and we are now on the crises stage. Nevertheless, we also have good goals and targets already in place in the Baltic Sea region, we are definitely not starting from scratch neither regionally or nationally.
The costs of inactions must be made aware of, all of us have a way to make our voices heard higher in the political agenda – and stay there.
Applications are invited for the post of Communication Secretary at the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) Secretariat to take care of the external communication and public relations activities of HELCOM. The post, which is based in Helsinki, Finland at the Commission’s Secretariat, will be become vacant on 1 February 2023.
Candidates with the required expertise and qualifications are invited to submit their application no later than 14 November 2022.
The lively panel discussion of the side event, Delivering global commitments in the Baltic Sea Region, raised particular praise during the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, held from 27 June to 1 July 2022. The key outcome summary of the side event has now been published.
The participants of the side event, organized by the Baltic Sea countries and partner organizations, discussed the role of effective regional marine governance in achieving SDG 14 and presenting HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan as a best-practice example.
As a case in point, the side event used Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and, areas that are achieving the effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity outside of protected areas – the so-called Other Effective Conservation Measures or OECMs. The programme of the event is available at the event webpage.
Voluntary commitments for the Ocean Conference are initiatives voluntarily undertaken by for instance governments, NGOs, financial and academic institutions, as well as the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations.
The UN Ocean Conference 2020 was postponed due to COVID 19. Some new HELCOM voluntary commitments have now been submitted (as of August 2022) to the UN Ocean Conference Registry of Commitments. Some of the commitments have been modified from the 2020 proposals while some are newly created.
In a special video, three key experts as well the executives of HELCOM Secretariat explain about HELCOM achievements and goals, and how they have been created to support reaching the Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life under water.
As of 1 July 2022, Latvia will be the Chair of HELCOM until 30 June 2024. The chairmanship rotates between Contracting Parties every two years, in alphabetical order.
Ms Evija Šmite, Deputy Director General and the Director of Fisheries Control Department, State Environmental Service of Latvia starts as the new Chair of HELCOM. She has worked on matters regarding marine environment protection and fisheries control in the public administration of Latvia since 1997.
The priorities of the Latvian Chairmanship will focus on:
HELCOM as an effective and well-functioning organisation of regional cooperation which is capable of action, including in unforeseen and force majeure situations.
Implementation of the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP 2021), with particular attention paid to:
protection of marine biodiversity
advancing ecosystem based sustainable marine management by integration of environmental objectives with socio-economic goals
Strengthening the role of regional cooperation in the context of international ocean governance.
Ms. Ilona Mendzina has been selected as the Vice-Chair. She is the Deputy Director of the Nature Protection Department, and the Head of Species and Habitats Protection Division of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development.
A new HELCOM leaflet summarizing German chairmanship
Coincidingly, a leaflet on current HELCOM work and to celebrate the conclusion of the German Chairmanship, ending on 30 June 2022, is now free for downloading in our website:
Ms Steffi Lemke, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, Germany will be among the high-level representatives opening the Side Event on 30 June 2022, taking place during the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.
Ms Lemke will be joined by Ms Terhi Lehtonen, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, as well as Mr. Antti Tooming, Deputy Secretary General, from the Ministry of the Environment of Estonia.
One key aim of the event is to present marine protection as a concrete example of the instrumental role of the regional sea conventions in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life under water – in particular and other global commitments in general, at the macro-regional and sea-basin levels.
HELCOM achievements in delivering global goals
The 75-minute side event will present HELCOM’s Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) 2021–2030 as a best practice example for an ecosystem-based approach to marine management from science to action. The BSAP provides concrete tools for reaching the regional commitments, such as the establishment of a coherent MPA network, which has made substantial progress in the Baltic Sea Region. Moreover, the growing importance of the so called Other Effective Conservation Measures (OECMs) will be explored as a more novel method to holistically conserve biodiversity.
Main organizers of the event are the Ministries of the Environment of Estonia and Germany (HELCOM Chair).
UN Ocean Conference, postponed due to the covid pandemic, will be held in Lisbon, Portugal from 27 June until 1 July, 2022.
The present Chairmanship of HELCOM, Germany, in agreement with the European Union and Contracting Parties to the Helsinki Convention that are Member States of the European Union, has opted to prolong the suspension of all official HELCOM meetings until further notice. The suspension was initially announced in a statement issued on 4 March 2022.
All meetings of the official HELCOM bodies including the Helsinki Commission, Heads of Delegations, Working Groups, Experts Groups and other subsidiary bodies thus remain suspended.
HELCOM Green Team needs your help in identifying the main barriers, obstacles and challenges that are hindering the development of green technologies and alternative fuels in the Baltic Sea region, by answering a survey.
Replies from both current and former shipping stakeholders on green technologies and alternative fuels are welcome. You are kindly invited to provide any information and share challenges you have faced in e.g. a project, investment, development, plan or any other specific case related to green technologies and/or alternative fuels in shipping.
The survey, which has been ongoing since 2018, is part of the HELCOM Green Team reporting mechanism that seeks to gather constant feedback from shipping stakeholders on green technologies and alternative fuels. The results, compiled once a year, are used to facilitate knowledge and information sharing among the private sector, decision makers and the general public, and to promote an early introduction of new technological solutions and alternative fuels.
We also encourage to share the survey with relevant stakeholders (shipowners, technology developers, shipyards, port operators, R&D etc.) and projects in the field.
It should take you about 10 minutes to complete the survey. All answers are handled anonymously.
We are looking for a service provider to develop our “HELCOM Indicator website”, an online repository of about 50 individual indicators – fact sheets that provide specific information about the health of and the pressures on the Baltic Sea’s marine environment.
Interested parties should express their interest by 30 April 2022.
Additional information can be found in the following documents:
The present Chairmanship of HELCOM, Germany, in agreement with the European Union and Contracting Parties to the Helsinki Convention that are Member States of the European Union, has opted to prolong the suspension of all official HELCOM meetings through 30 June 2022. The suspension was initially announced in a statement issued on 4 March 2022.
All meetings of the official HELCOM bodies including the Helsinki Commission, Heads of Delegations, Working Groups, Experts Groups and other subsidiary bodies that were due to take place in the period between March through June 2022 are suspended and will be rescheduled. Participants of these meetings will be informed of any further developments in due course.
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