The 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, held on 6 March in Brussels under the EU chairmanship, is a response to the call for action in the Baltic Sea on the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Setting an ambitious path towards achieving a healthy marine environment, the Ministers of the Environment from the Baltic Sea countries and the EU Commissioner for Environment meet to focus on the following issues:
1. Taking new action to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea
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 voluntary commitments towards SDG 14 – “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.
2. Strengthening implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan by 2021 as a top priority
The Baltic Sea Action Plan, aiming for a healthy Baltic Sea by 2021, rests on actions aimed at eutrophication, hazardous substances, biodiversity, and maritime activities. HELCOM’s evaluation of how BSAP actions have been fulfilled, along with assessments of the state of the marine environment, shows that while much has been accomplished, the efforts so far have not led to the recovery of the Baltic Sea, in spite of some positive signals.
Recognizing that stronger follow-through on the BSAP is needed in order to fulfil the Agenda 2030 in the region, the Meeting calls for intensified efforts to reach the common goals.
3. Adjusting the Baltic Sea Action Plan based on new knowledge and future challenges
As scientific knowledge advances, and as new issues emerge, the BSAP is adjusted to reflect the changing situation and to meet the relevant Sustainable Development Goals.
Supported by the latest information, the Meeting sets out next steps to focus on those issues that are most widely distributed and cause the greatest harm, along with climate change and other issues that will develop in the future.