Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

HELCOM Chairs' speeches at the diplomatic lunch

EU HELCOM Chairmanship. Speech by Ms Marianne Wenning, Chair of the Helsinki Commission,at the HELCOM Diplomatic Lunch, 12 October 2016, Helsinki Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Colleagues.It is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to brief you, the representatives of the coastal countries and the catchment area of the Baltic Sea, on the priorities and plans of the European Union Chairmanship of HELCOM. This is the second time in history that the EU holds the chair of HELCOM he Contracting Parties cooperate in HELCOM on an equal footing. This set-up works well and is productive. The EU countries of HELCOM as well as the non-EU country Russia are striving to achieve the same goal: good environmental status of the marine environment. As new Chair in HELCOM I will do my best to continue cooperation in the same good spirit for which HELCOM is known. #160The first EU priority for the HELCOM Chairmanship is connected to this: reaching a healthy ecosystem in the Baltic Sea by 2021.   healthy marine ecosystem is essential for a thriving maritime economy and for the wellbeing of people and is the only way to secure the sustainability of the Baltic Sea in the long-term. We need to ensure that in the future people can catch and eat fish from the region without concerns. We want to be able to enjoy the Baltic Sea shores and swim in our sea waters – and attract tourists to do the same. We must have enough sea space for new activities that now we might not even be able to think of  few years back HELCOM embarked on a big multi-annual task of undertaking the second holistic assessment of the ecosystem health of the Baltic Sea. This project, called Status of the Baltic Sea report, or HOLAS II, will help us understand whether policy measures at national and regional level are effective in reducing key pressures and in having a positive impact on the health of the Baltic Sea. The first results of the assessment will be released next year, in 2017, and the assessment is planned to be updated in 2018 he word ‘holistic’ indicates that the assessment will be comprehensive, taking into account human activities and ensuing pressures as well as any changes and their effects on biodiversity, eutrophication, hazardous substances and maritime activities. It will also include improved socio-economic analysis which will become more important in the future for demonstrating that no or insufficient action is not an option as it will lead to higher costs in the long-term.   #160This brings me to the next, related EU priority: innovation for a sustainable Blue Economy and healthy ecosystems. Innovation has many aspects – it can be related to techniques & products, to processes, but also to governance and knowledge. Innovation in all these areas will provide us with a better understanding and an improved application of the ecosystem based approach and will allow us to achieve the necessary level of sustainable development for the Baltic Sea region to prosper. #160Maritime Spatial Planning will be an important tool in this regard. HELCOM promotes the ecosystem approach as the basis for planning of all economic activity, be it fishing, shipping, energy, or tourism. Co-ordination of these activities, with a full understanding of their impacts on the marine environment, will become more important as it will guide us in how best to achieve our environmental goals and objectives at national, European and international level. Part of this planning will also have to include Marine Protected Areas ecologically coherent as part of a network and well-managed ast but not least: how can we improve regional governance? Strengthening our partnership with other organizations, be it in the fishery, agricultural or transport sector, is already part of the HELCOM process but can still be improved. Especially at a time when the HOLAS II assessment will soon provide information that will allow us – TOGETHER – to identify the challenges for each sector and Party of the Convention. We should take the chance and renew our efforts to align what – at first sight – seem like contradictory objectives and to come to mutually satisfactory solutions. They will not be perfect but we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. #160The same will apply to international ocean governance. The question here is how can HELCOM – as one of the Regional Sea Conventions – support the process of reaching the sea-related goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially the Goal number 14 on oceans and the seas et me stop here – you will be able – or had the chance already – to study the EU priorities also in writing. But I will be happy to answer any questions or hear any comments you might have over our lunch xcellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen  he EU’s Chairmanship does not start in a vacuum: Harry Liiv, my predecessor, has set the bar high. There were many achievements under the Estonian chairmanship – let’s hear about them now from Harry for future inspiration ut before that, I would like you to join me for a toast to the continuous successful cooperation for the protection and prosperity of our common Baltic Sea. We have big challenges ahead of us, but together we can make a difference * Outcome of the Previous HELCOM Chairmanship​Speech by Mr Harry Liiv, Estonia, Chair of HELCOM 1.7.201430.6.2016 at the HELCOM Diplomatic Lunch, 12 October 2016, Helsinki #160Your Excellencies, Esteemed Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, ‘d first like to thank the HELCOM Chair, Ms. Marianne Wenning, for her informative and interesting speech, and also for her encouraging words on the previous HELCOM Chairmanship under Estonia. he priorities chosen by the EU for the HELCOM Chairmanship are building strong on the recent efforts and achievements within HELCOM – achievements by us: all the Contracting Parties, the Observers and the extended stakeholder community, working together for common goals here were many important milestones reached during the Estonian Chairmanship from July 2014 until June 2016:HELCOM launched the active stage in preparing the Second Holistic Assessment of the Baltic Sea, or HOLAS II. The Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter was finalized and adopted. Last spring, the Contracting Parties finally adopted the long awaited recommendation on sustainable aquaculture in the Baltic Sea region. This is only one example of all the work invested in promoting sustainable fisheries. >But the biggest and most difficult of the recent achievements have been connected to shipping  major accomplishment was the HELCOM agreement to apply for a NECA status for the Baltic Sea – referring to regulations to limit the Nitrogen Oxide emissions from ships. The application has been submitted this summer to the International Maritime Organization (or IMO). mportantly, the application was sent in parallel with the North Sea, multiplying the potential gains for the marine environment: the nitrogen reductions are likely much larger when both of the neighbouring sea areas are on board. lso the dates for prohibiting discharges of untreated sewage from passenger ships were decided by the IMO this year. This was a result from the joint request by the HELCOM countries and following the earlier designation of the Baltic Sea as a special area for sewage under international law. he ban for sewage will take effect by latest 2021 for most of the IMO registered passenger vessels (for new passenger ships in June 2019) e now have to live up to this new measure on ships’ sewage and make sure that all the further and necessary improvements to facilities in ports to receive sewage of the Baltic Sea are done oth achievements in the shipping sector are a great success of the Baltic Sea countries, of HELCOM and of the region as a whole. They will not only improve the state of the environment, but also boost innovations and development of new technologies. hile we should grab the opportunity for congratulating ourselves for the accomplishments, a lot of work remains to be done. xcellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s raise a glass to the successes we have already achieved! For reducing marine litter, for more sustainable aquaculture, and for much less environmental harm from shipping. Let there be many more victories to come. ​

The diplomatic community of Finland representing the Contracting Parties as well as the catchment area states gathered for the traditional HELCOM lunch on 12 October 2016.