Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission


Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

HELCOM 50 years

Proud past, promising future: Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Convention

The Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area – also known as the Helsinki Convention – was originally signed in 1974 by all Baltic Sea coastal countries. The agreement aimed to address the increasing environmental challenges arising from industrialization and other human activities, which were having a severe impact on the marine environment.

The original Convention was signed in Helsinki on 22 March 1974 by its then seven Contracting Parties (Denmark, Finland, Federal Republic of Germany, German Democratic Republic, Poland, Sweden, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). In the same year, the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – also known as the “Helsinki Commission” or “HELCOM” – was established. For five decades, we have worked towards realizing our vision: 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.

50th anniversary celebration

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Helsinki Convention and HELCOM, Latvia, currently holding the Chairmanship of HELCOM, will host a celebration on 25 April 2024 in Riga. The event will be preceded by a Ministerial Meeting of the Contracting Parties in the morning of the same day.

The guests, including representatives of the HELCOM Contracting Parties, observers and other friends of HELCOM past and present, will enjoy a special programme reflecting on the achievements of the first 50 years of HELCOM while looking forward to future challenges. The event will be by invitation only but an online streaming will be made available.

Preliminary programme

Thursday, 25 April 2024, 14.30 (CET)
Venue: National Library of Latvia (Mūkusalas iela 3, Riga)

14:30                Opening and welcome

Opening words by

  • Inga Bērziņa, Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia 
  • Kai Mykkänen, Minister of Climate and the Environment of Finland

Keynote speeches

  • Mr. Pekka Haavisto, Member of the Parliament of Finland
  • Ms. Karen Ellemann, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers
  • Ms. Leena Ylä-Mononen, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency
  • Mr. Alan Haynie, General Secretary of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea

A musical interlude by Latvian artists

Recalling the proud past of HELCOM

A segment devoted to the most remarkable milestones passed and achievements reached by HELCOM in its 50 years.

Networking break – coffee and possibility to enjoy the exhibition on HELCOM history

Next generation panel discussion “Are we fit for the future?”

The discussion, facilitated by Silva Laure (Vice-Chair of the Baltic Sea Region Committee of Youth Representatives), will focus on selected Baltic Sea environment challenges and ways on finding balance between the values of environment and the negative impact we cause. Will we manage to make the ecosystem approach to management and the concept of ecosystem services work in real life?

Where do we stand?

Rüdiger Strempel, HELCOM Executive Secretary and
Jannica Haldin, HELCOM Deputy Executive Secretary           

Congratulations by partner organizations

Wrap up by Evija Šmite, HELCOM Chair

19:00 -20:30                Reception invited by the HELCOM Chairmanship – Latvia

Signing of the Helsinki Convention in 1974.

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Mock Employee
Laura Meski

Associate Professional Secretary
HELCOM Secretariat

Mock Employee
Johanna Laurila

Communication Advisor
HELCOM Secretariat
+358 40 647 3996