Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Climate change in the Baltic Sea: state of play and solutions will be addressed at international conference



In a bid to improve our understanding of climate change in the Baltic Sea and identify regional solutions to a global emergency, an international conference will be held online from 9 to 10 March 2022 – the HELCOM Stakeholder Conference 2022 on Climate Change in the Baltic Sea (HSC2022). Parts of the conference will be open to all.

“The HSC2022 conference will not only shed some light on what is currently going on in the Baltic Sea in terms of climate change, but also look at our options for dealing with it in our regional context,” noted Haldin.

Spread over two days, the conference will include an open-to-all webinar on 9 March 2022 presenting the findings of the recently published Climate Change in the Baltic Sea Fact Sheet. A closed workshop (by invitation only) with key stakeholders on 10 March 2022 will then focus on concrete climate change adaptation and mitigation measures and address the science, policy and management components of climate change action.

“Water temperatures of the Baltic Sea have been increasing during the past 100 years and are projected to rise further during the 21st century,” said Prof. Markus Meier from Baltic Earth, and who coordinated the publication of the fact sheet and is a leading authority on climate change in the Baltic Sea. “The current projections suggest that the Baltic Sea will be largely ice-free during normal winters by the end of the century.”

The conference will also build on the results of a previously held workshop on blue carbon – the carbon sequestered and stored in coastal and marine ecosystems –, as a starting point for identifying mitigation and adaptation measures particularly suited for the Baltic Sea. 

“In addition to blue carbon, at the HSC2022, we will also look at measures that strengthen the Baltic Sea’s overall resilience so that it can better cope with the effects of climate change,” said Dr. Lilian Busse, the current chair of HELCOM and vice-president of UBA.

More info and registration details can be found at https://helcom.fi/hsc2022.


Contact

Mock Employee
Dominik Littfass

Communication Secretary
dominik.littfass@helcom.fi


Notes

  1. About Baltic Earth: Baltic Earth is an international scientific network that aims at achieving an improved Earth system understanding of the Baltic Sea region as the basis for science-based management in the face of climatic, environmental and human impact in the region. Website: https://baltic.earth
  2. About HELCOM: The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – also known as the Helsinki Commission or HELCOM – is an intergovernmental organisation that was established in 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution. Its members are the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Website: https://helcom.fi
  3. About the German Environment Agency (UBA): Since its founding in 1974, the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA) has been Germany’s main environmental protection agency. It contributes to ensuring that German citizens have a healthy environment with clean air and water, and that is free of pollutants. In addition to the early detection of environmental risks and threats, UBA provides policy advice, such as to the Ministry of the Environment, on a broad spectrum of issues that include waste avoidance, climate protection, and pesticide approvals. UBA currently provides the HELCOM chairperson, Ms Lilian Busse, Vice-President of UBA. Website: https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/en/
  4. About the Baltic Earth and HELCOM Climate Change in the Baltic Sea Fact Sheet: Jointly developed by Baltic Earth and HELCOM, the Baltic Earth and HELCOM Climate Change in the Baltic Sea Fact Sheet contains information about 34 parameters ranging from air and water temperature to marine and coastal ecosystem services, grouped into six different categories: energy cycle, water cycle, carbon and nutrient cycles, sea level and wind, biota and ecosystems, human activities, and services. According to the fact sheet, in the Baltic Sea, water temperature and sea level will rise, and sea ice cover will decrease – in turn affecting ecosystems and marine species, as well as maritime activities such as shipping, fisheries and aquaculture. Empowering decision makers to carry out timely, ambitious and coordinated climate action, the fact sheet is a summary of the regional counterpart – the Baltic Earth Assessment Reports – of the global reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. About 100 experts from the entire Baltic Sea region were involved in the making of the fact sheet, which was developed by the Joint Climate Change expert network (EN CLIME) run by Baltic Earth and HELCOM.
  5. About the Blue Carbon Workshop: On 17-18 November 2021, HELCOM and Germany (via the German Environment Agency, UBA) held a joint workshop on blue carbon – the carbon sequestered and stored in coastal and marine ecosystems – to investigate its potential as a climate change mitigation option and to establish a common understanding of the meaning of “blue carbon” in the Baltic Sea region. Attended by leading climate change and marine conservation experts from the Baltic Sea region, it was part of the work under the priorities set by the German chairmanship of HELCOM on climate change, notably on strengthening scientific and policy exchange on the effects of climate change in the Baltic Sea region as well as on potential mitigation and adaptation strategies. Read the workshop report here.

Vacancy: Project Financial Coordinator

Applications are closed.

We are currently seeking to recruit an enthusiastic expert to strengthen our team at the international HELCOM Secretariat in Helsinki as a Project Financial Coordinator. The Project Financial Coordinator is responsible for financial management of externally financed projects where HELCOM is either coordinator or partner. Most of the projects are co-financed by EU, by the Interreg programme, Horizon and other EU funding instruments.

The selected candidate is expected to start preferably on 14 February 2022, or as soon as possible thereafter. The position is full-time and fixed-term until 31 December 2023, with a possibility for prolongation. The salary is 2,900 EUR per month. The salaries paid by the Commission are exempt from Finnish income tax.

Application deadline is 16 January 2022.

More information and application

HELCOM revamps its metadata catalogue, improving the search of over 1000 Baltic Sea maps

Screenshot of the revamped HELCOM Metadata Catalogue

HELCOM has recently launched its revamped HELCOM Metadata Catalogue, a tool that provides context and background to the datasets in the HELCOM Map and Data Service, which contains Baltic-specific geospatial data ranging from status assessments to shipping density maps, and totalling up to more than 1,000 individual maps.

“With the new catalogue, our users can easily browse or search metadata records, such as information on data collection, lineage, attribute descriptions, date published, format, INSIPRE theme and so on, to quickly acquire context on the dataset and establish if it is relevant for their needs,” said Matthew Richard, the HELCOM coordinator of the Baltic Data Flows project.

The updated resource now has an easy-to-use web interface to search geospatial data across multiple catalogues. The search provides full-text search as well as faceted search such as on keywords, resource types, organizations or scale. Users can easily refine the search and quickly get to the records of interest. 

“The HELCOM Metadata Catalogue is now INSPIRE compatible in terms of metadata standards on HELCOM datasets,” said Richard. “This is important to ensure compliance under the EU INSPIRE directive that aims to facilitate the harmonisation, sharing, and reuse of spatial datasets with multiple users and decision-makers across Europe.”

The Metadata Catalogue is built on the latest stable GeoNetwork version 3.12, which is designed to manage spatially referenced resources that provides powerful metadata editing and search functions. 

The HELCOM GeoNetwork implementation has been configured to be INSPIRE compatible in terms of metadata on datasets and contains a tool to validate metadata records against the INSPIRE validator. The INSPIRE validator and thesauri were used during development to ensure all metadata records are INSPIRE compliant. The metadata catalogue has also been configured for data harvesting to the ‘data.europa.eu’, and other relevant metadata harvesting initiatives.

The catalogue was updated as part of the Baltic Data Flows project, which seeks to enhance the sharing and harmonisation of data on the marine environment originating from existing sea monitoring programmes, and to move towards service-based data sharing. The project is being led by HELCOM and co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union.

Vacancy: Administrative Assistant (fixed-term)

This vacancy is now closed. We are no longer accepting applications.

We are currently in search of an enthusiastic expert to strengthen our team at the international HELCOM Secretariat as Administrative Assistant parental leave substitute. The position is to support the Administrative Officer in the administration of the Secretariat. While the tasks are mainly focused on finances, they also include tasks related to HR and general administration of the office.

Responsibilities

  • Assisting in closing of accounts and preparing the financial statement;
  • tasks related to accounting, invoicing, reporting and follow‐up;
  • support in budgeting tasks;
  • tasks related to HR and general administration (e.g. preparing contracts, reports and applications);
  • support in developing the administrative tools of the Secretariat;
  • other administrative tasks as assigned.

Qualifications and experience.

  • Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (e.g. business administration, public administration, economics) or corresponding education;
  • minimum of two years of relevant professional experience from financial and administrative tasks;
  • knowledge of accounting practices and systems;
  • ability to work independently, take responsibility and initiatives;
  • excellent organizational and administrative skills and proven ability to deliver to tight timelines;
  • excellent social and team skills;
  • A thorough knowledge of the English and Finnish languages as well as high competence in ITskills.
    Experience from the financial management of EU co‐financed projects is an asset.

Terms of appointment

The selected candidate is expected to start preferably on 11 January 2022. The appointment is a parental leave substitute for one year, with a possibility of prolongation. The salary is 2.800 € per month. Please note that the salaries paid by the Commission are exempt from Finnish income tax.

The interviews are tentatively scheduled to take place on 1 December 2021 in Helsinki.

HELCOM adopts the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan, charting a way forward for a healthy Baltic Sea

Charting a way forward for a healthy Baltic Sea, HELCOM has adopted the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) during the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting 2021 that was held in Lübeck, Germany, on 20 October 2021.

“This is a good day for the Baltic Sea and its marine environment,” says Rüdiger Strempel, the Executive Secretary of HELCOM, a regional sea organisation to which all Baltic Sea countries and the EU are a party of. “With the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan, we now have a clear-cut roadmap for improving the ecological state of our sea over the next ten years.”

Despite significant progress in the past decades, the Baltic Sea remains heavily polluted and affected by human pressures. The most pressing of these remains eutrophication, the excessive concentration of nutrients in the sea and main cause of harmful algal blooms, leading to the depletion of oxygen in deep waters and upsetting marine biodiversity.

Addressing biodiversity, eutrophication, hazardous substances, and sea-based activities such as shipping and fisheries, the updated HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan contains about 200 concrete actions that were developed to tackle the pressures the Baltic is facing today.

In addition, the plan now also addresses climate change, marine litter, pharmaceuticals, underwater noise, and seabed disturbance. “The update has also allowed us to include emerging and previously insufficiently addressed pressures,” Strempel notes.

The updated BSAP is also closely aligned with international and regional ecological objectives such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), or, for those of our Contracting Parties that are also EU members, the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

All actions of the updated BSAP are to be implemented by 2030 at the latest. “A successful completion of the BSAP is a prerequisite for attaining the overall objective of a healthy Baltic Sea,” emphasizes Strempel.

Initially launched in 2007, the plan was revised when it became clear that the goal of “good environmental status” – a clean, healthy and productive Baltic Sea unaffected by pollution and other human pressures – would not be attained by 2021, as revealed by HELCOM’s latest assessment of the Baltic Sea.

“The BSAP has nonetheless delivered, and it remains one of the most effective tools at our disposal for achieving our environmental objectives,” says Strempel, adding that the original plan has contributed to reducing inputs of nutrients and hazardous substances. It has also led to a better protection of the Baltic Sea’s biodiversity, and to cleaner and safer shipping practices. “That is why the HELCOM Contracting Parties decided to build on and update the plan.”

Initiated in 2017, the update took about four years to complete, involving hundreds of national policy makers, experts and researchers from all Baltic Sea countries and the EU working under the umbrella of HELCOM in its various bodies. Stakeholders from civil society, NGOs, industry and the business sector were also closely involved in the update.

“The BSAP is not just an environmental success, but also a political one, demonstrating once again our capability for regional and cross-sectoral cooperation in the Baltic Sea area,” says Strempel, further stressing that the adoption of the plan was a major achievement also because it took place against the special challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The updated Baltic Sea Action Plan is publicly available on HELCOM’s website.

Interview with Rüdiger Strempel, Executive Secretary of HELCOM, on the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan

Q: What is the BSAP?

A: The Baltic Sea Action plan, or BSAP, is HELCOM’s strategic programme for a healthy Baltic Sea. It contains about 200 actions addressing the various pressures on the Baltic Sea and its biodiversity. Originally adopted in 2007, the BSAP was updated in 2021 during the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Lübeck, Germany.

Why the update?

The original BSAP envisioned the achievement of good ecological status by 2021. Unfortunately, that goal was not achieved. But the BSAP has nonetheless delivered, and it remains one of the most effective tools at our disposal for achieving our environmental objectives. It has contributed to reducing inputs of nutrients and hazardous substances, to the protection of biodiversity, and cleaner and safer shipping practices. That is why the HELCOM Contracting Parties decided to update the Plan. The update has also allowed us to include emerging and previously insufficiently addressed pressures.

What’s in the updated BSAP?

The new BSAP is an evolution rather than a revolution. It is based on the original plan and maintains the same level of ambition. It also retains all actions previously agreed on insofar as they still need to be implemented. In addition, it includes new actions to strengthen the existing efforts and tackle emerging concerns. The updated BSAP now contains about 200 actions and measures, divided into four segments, namely 1) biodiversity, 2) eutrophication, 3) hazardous substances and litter 4) sea-based activities.

In addition, a new section on horizontal topics addresses cross-cutting issues including climate change, monitoring, maritime spatial planning, economic and social analysis, knowledge exchange and awareness raising, hot spots, and financing. The ecosystem approach is a fundamental element of the updated BSAP.

The updated BSAP is also closely aligned with international and regional ecological objectives such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), or the European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive, for those of our Contracting Parties who are also EU members. The BSAP therefore also drives the implementation of those targets and objectives.

How was it done?

The update of the BSAP is based on a science-based participatory process that took about four years to complete. The official go-ahead was given in 2018 during the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting 2018 in Brussels, but work on the update had already started in 2017.

The updated BSAP is based on a thorough analysis of the sufficiency of the existing actions and measures, to understand what worked and what did not, and what would be the state of the Baltic Sea under a “business as usual” scenario without any modifications. This analysis helped to adjust some of the existing actions and measures and to develop new ones.

In general, updating the BSAP was an inclusive and stakeholder-driven process, with the majority of HELCOM groups and bodies involved in the work. Our stakeholders also participated in the development of new actions. The BSAP is therefore not just an environmental success, but also a political one, demonstrating once again our  capability for regional and cross-sectoral cooperation in the Baltic Sea area.

The updated BSAP is based on the strongest possible political mandate. It was adopted during the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting 2021 in Lübeck, Germany on 20 October 2021.  

What are the expectations for the updated BSAP?

All actions and measures contained in the Baltic Sea Action Plan are to be implemented by 2030 at the latest. Successful implementation of the BSAP and attaining its goals on biodiversity, eutrophication, hazardous substances and litter, and sea-based activities is a prerequisite for attaining our overall objective of a healthy Baltic Sea.

Update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan: HELCOM Ministers to adopt an ambitious programme of actions and measures for a healthy Baltic Sea

The way towards a healthy Baltic Sea will be charted during the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting 2021, to be held in Lübeck, Germany, on 20 October 2021, where the HELCOM Ministers and the EU Commissioner for the Environment are planning to adopt the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan.

“The Lübeck Ministerial Meeting is particularly significant because the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan will influence and guide our regional efforts towards a healthy Baltic Sea for the next decade,” said Rüdiger Strempel, Executive Secretary of HELCOM.

Initially adopted in 2007 by the nine Baltic Sea countries and the EU, who constitute the HELCOM Contracting Parties, the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) is HELCOM’s strategic programme of concrete actions and measures for a healthy Baltic Sea. The HELCOM Contracting Parties agreed on the update of the BSAP in 2018 when it became clear that the goal of good environmental status of the Baltic Sea would not be attained by 2021.

“The BSAP remains one of the most effective tools at our disposal for achieving the ecological objectives we have envisioned for the Baltic Sea, which is why the HELCOM countries decided to update it,” explained Strempel, adding that the current plan has contributed substantially to improving the state of the sea’s marine environment.

The updated BSAP will contain about 200 concrete actions and measures addressing biodiversity, eutrophication, hazardous substances, and sea-based activities such as shipping and fisheries. In addition, it will also include new actions on emerging or previously less focussed on pressures such as climate change, marine litter, pharmaceuticals, underwater noise, and seabed disturbance. All actions are to be implemented by 2030 at the latest.

“The update is intended to ensure that the BSAP remains fit-for-purpose in tackling the Baltic Sea’s challenges today and for many years to come,” said Strempel.

In Lübeck, in addition to the updated BSAP, the Ministers are also expected to adopt the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy, the Regional Maritime Spatial Planning Roadmap 2021-2030, the HELCOM Science Agenda, and the HELCOM Guidelines for sea-based measures to manage internal nutrient reserves.

side-event on regional investments in the seascape, hosted by the NGOs WWF and Coalition Clean Baltic, will also be held in connection with the Ministerial Meeting. The event is open to all.

Generally, the HELCOM Ministerial Meetings take place every three years and are attended by the minister in charge of environmental matters or maritime affairs of each Baltic Sea country, and, for the EU, the Commissioner for the Environment. 

Germany currently holds the rotating chairmanship of HELCOM and will be hosting the Ministerial Meeting 2021 in the medieval city of Lübeck, famous as a major former Hanseatic trade hub in the Baltic Sea region.

HELCOM and Baltic Earth will hold a media event about climate change in the Baltic Sea on 3 September 2021

To provide more insight into climate change in the Baltic Sea, HELCOM and Baltic Earth will hold a media launch of the soon-to-be published Baltic Sea Climate Change Fact Sheet on 3 September 2021. Open to all journalists and media professionals, the event will be held online.

The Baltic Sea Climate Change Fact Sheet provides the latest scientific knowledge on how climate change is currently affecting the Baltic Sea and about what we can expect to happen in the future. 

During the unveil event, key findings of the Climate Change Fact Sheet will be presented to the media. The authors of publication and Baltic Earth and HELCOM climate change experts will be available for questions.

A complete yet concise and easy to read publication, the publication will help policy makers to include climate change considerations in their work and decisions. More broadly, it also seeks to inform the general public about the effects of climate change in the Baltic Sea.

Jointly developed by HELCOM and Baltic Earth, the Climate Change Fact Sheet contains information about 34 parameters ranging from air and water temperature to marine and coastal ecosystem services, grouped into six different categories: energy cycle, water cycle, carbon and nutrient cycles, sea level and wind, biota and ecosystems, human activities, and services.

More info and registration:

https://helcom.fi/ccfs-launch

The outcome of the HELCOM decision-makers spring meeting is now available

Screenshot of HOD 60-2021

The outcome of the latest meeting of the HELCOM decision-makers, the 60th Meeting of the Heads of Delegation(HOD 60-2021) that was held online from 3 to 4 June 2021, is now available. 

During HOD 60-2021, the HELCOM Heads of Delegations notably fine-tuned the latest draft of the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) that is due to be adopted during the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting 2021 in October of this year.  

Several key documents due to be adopted alongside the updated BSAP were also endorsed at HOD 60-2021, such as the revised HELCOM Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter and the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy. Others were the Guidelines for Sea-Based Measures to Manage Internal Nutrient Reserves in the Baltic Sea Region, and the Regional Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Roadmap 2021-2030.

The prolongation of one of HELCOM’s three time-limited main working groups, the Joint HELCOM-VASAB Maritime Spatial Planning Working Group (HELCOM-VASAB MSP WG) was also decided, extending the group’s activity to 2030, in line with the timespan of the Regional MSP Roadmap 2021-2030.

The decision-makers also advanced on the HELCOM Regional Action Plan on Underwater Noise. Addressing both monitoring and the management of man-made underwater noise in the Baltic Sea, the new plan will come in the form of a HELCOM recommendation containing a set of specific actions to be implemented at the regional and national levels. 

The revised HELCOM Recommendation 23/5 on the reduction of discharges from urban areas by the proper management of storm water systems was also adopted during the meeting. 

HOD 60-2021 further provisionally approved the HELCOM RED LIST II project proposal for reviewing and updating the HELCOM Red List of species and the one for habitats. HELCOM RED LIST II is due to run from 2022 to 2024.

HELCOM also welcomed its latest observer, the Nordic Boating Council (NBC), during the meeting. With the NBC, HELCOM now counts 64 observers

Attended by all Contracting Parties and chaired by Lilian Busse, the current chair of HELCOM, HOD 60-2021 further welcomed the new Vice-chair of HELCOM, Andreas Röpke from the Ministry for Agriculture and Environment of the German federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. He takes over from Johannes Oelerich from the Ministry of Energy, Agriculture, the Environment, Nature and Digitalization of the German federal state Schleswig-Holstein. 

On 16 May 2021, we’re celebrating the International Day of the Baltic Harbour Porpoise

The “International Day of the Baltic Harbour Porpoise” is celebrated on the third Sunday in May of each year, to raise awareness of the alarming situation of the harbour porpoise, a rather unique marine mammal. And indeed: it is the only cetacean that calls the Baltic Sea its permanent home. 

In the Baltic Sea region, harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) were actively hunted until the end of the 19th century. Although this practice has stopped, their populations declined rapidly since the middle of the 20th century. They are now heavily impacted by other human pressures, most notably by-catch in fishing gear, but also pollutants, habitat deterioration and disturbance caused by underwater noise. 

The “International Day of the Baltic Harbour Porpoise” (IDBHP) was declared an international observance by the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans in the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (UNEP/ASCOBANS).

Read more about the harbour porpoise:

#HarbourPorpoise

Watch the video address by Rüdiger Strempel on the occasion of the “International Day of the Baltic Harbour Porpoise”