Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Statement by the Executive Secretary at HELCOM Annual Meeting

Statement by monika stankiewicz, Helcom executive secretary

Dear Colleagues,2014 was the year of the 40th
anniversary and the modernization of HELCOM. The jubilee celebrations were
pleasant and joyful – a moment of reflection on our grand past and a look into
the desirable future. It was also an opportunity to show appreciation to all
involved in the common mission.Modernization sounds less joyful,
although it shouldn’t be, otherwise we would not be doing the right job. The
streamlining of HELCOM has now been concluded. Time will show how successful we
will be – the Contracting Parties and the Secretariat in delivering what has
been promised – with clearer priorities and more structured planning, a new
working structure, improved work flows and more effective communication. Also,
hopefully, HELCOM will not be an isolated case but all major organizations and processes
in the Baltic Sea region will follow suit to secure synergies and integration. We can already prove increased
synergies, which was in the heart of HELCOM’s modernization. HELCOM and OSPAR
are working together on core indicators to assess the status of the marine
environment and on the harmonized implementation of the BWMC. The HELCOM
monitoring manual was prepared and published last autumn for the countries’ use
in their reporting under other international obligations. Next holistic
assessment of the Baltic ecosystem health has been agreed to serve as “roof
report” to be reported in 2018 by the HELCOM EU countries under MSFD.Coordinating work and assessments,
yes, this has progressed well. But importantly, new measures in the region
continue to be coordinated to effectively implement HELCOM acquis (the
requirements of the Helsinki Convention, HELCOM Recommendations), also taking
into account the requirements of the MSFD and relevant legislation in the
Russian Federation. After all, taking all appropriate measures to prevent and
eliminate pollution is the basic requirement of the Helsinki Convention, and it
is only through concrete measures that we can improve the status of the Baltic
Sea.My last point also concerns
measures, in the maritime field. Since its beginning HELCOM has been
the regional platform to discuss and agree among the riparian countries on
harmonized implementation of IMO conventions and, if and when proved necessary,
on additional and stricter requirements to be applied by ships operating in the
sensitive area of the Baltic Sea. The discussions have not always been easy and
processes fast, but nevertheless we could say with confidence that in our
region pollution from ships has been addressed adequately. The maritime field
has been one of the most successful areas of cooperation in HELCOM.Also last year a lot of efforts were
invested in working out solutions for green shipping and regarding ballast
water, sewage from passenger ships, emissions of pollutants and use of
alternative fuels. There is both a willingness among the administrations and a
clear need for such solutions. Shipping industry and other stakeholders are
actively engaged. One could say we have all it takes to propose and then agree
on workable solutions on these important issues, for the benefit of the Baltic
marine environment. Yet, the agreements that are needed
to conclude the processes on time have recently proved to be difficult to make.
We are running a risk and are very close to a situation, when it will no longer
be possible to state that shipping is the most environmentally friendly mode of
transport, at least not in the Baltic, as the controls over land-based
pollution sources tighten. This would not be good for the region, for the
marine environment nor the industry itself. I realize the difficulties and
challenges, the issue of competences and legal complexity, varying expert or
scientific opinions, economic concerns. But it is possible for us to overcome
these, with phased-in implementation schemes, suitable timetables, and
appropriate legal and other solutions, as long as political will is there. After the jubilee year the
streamlined HELCOM is ready to face any future challenges. HELCOM’s strength is
cooperation, which is based on trust and equality between Contracting
Parties.  Let’s build on the successful
past and ensure that HELCOM delivers also in the future.* * *For more information, please contact:Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)

Annual statement on the work of the HELCOM Secretariat in 2014, including comments and evaluation of the work of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies.