President Tarja Halonen and HELCOM Executive Secretary Monika Stankiewicz. Photo: Marco ManziJoyful mood accompanied the HELCOM 40th anniversary Jubilee session this morning in Helsinki, Finland, inaugurated by President Tarja Halonen, Minister of Environment of Finland, Ville Niinistö, Jacqueline Alder from the Division of Environmental Policy Implementation of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Helle Pilsgaard, Chair of HELCOM. The first Helsinki Convention was signed 40 years ago, making history in environmental protection and establishing the Finnish capital as the host for the more permanent functions of HELCOM. President Tarja Halonen on behalf of the host country of HELCOM, Finland, opened the Jubilee by acknowledging that while many seas in the world struggle due to political and economic situations, the Baltic region enjoy economic prosperity and stability putting even more expectations on us. “Despite economic downturns from time to time, the Baltic Sea coastal countries have what it takes to be persistent, ambitious and forward-looking in their efforts to save the sea.” “The HELCOM organization has a legal basis, established procedures, transparency and professionalism. This needs to be coupled with higher political support to fully utilize the potential of a cooperation platform. Also all the members should be involved on equal footing and strive for harmonized implementation of the same and sufficient standards though out the region.” Ms. Halonen also said that in the Baltic Region , the work of the states is very important but not enough. “In order to achieve effective measures to clean our Baltic Sea, we need all actors of society onboard.” Ville Niinistö, Minister of Environment of Finland referred in his speech to the 1974 Helsinki Convention being unique. “The signing of the Convention was a historic milestone — for the first time ever, a single Convention covered all the pollution sources around an entire sea. This legally binding instrument has been and should continue to be an effective channel for introducing local and regional aspects into global and European commitments. ” Mr. Niinistö also referred to the progress in the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, calling for further necessary actions as agreed e.g. in Copenhagen Ministerial Meeting last October. A special 40th premiered at the end of the Jubilee, and a video recording of the morning celebrations can soon be downloaded from HELCOM website. The Jubilee session precedes the HELCOM Annual Meeting, the highest decision-making body of HELCOM. The Meeting starts at 13:30 today and continues until 6 March at 16:00. * * *Note for editors: The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organisation of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention. For more information, please contact:Johanna LaurilaInformation Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988 Skype: helcom70 E-mail: johanna.laurila(@)helcom.fi
Joyful mood accompanied the HELCOM 40th anniversary Jubilee session this morning in Helsinki.