Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

 

Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

UN targets and regional cooperation discussed in the Baltic Sea Day in Russia

​Regional cooperation in the Baltic Sea towards reaching the UN sustainable development goals was the key theme in the annual international environmental forum, the Baltic Sea Day, held 22-23 March 2017 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The forum gathered about 650 participants from all countries around the Baltic Sea as well as from the Belarus, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway. The Forum was of specific significance as 2017 has been declared The Year of the Environment in Russia. The coordination of global, regional and local environmental strategies between representatives of HELCOM, the European Union, national governmental authorities and municipalities was a key point of the discussion. Participants also discussed the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan and other HELCOM agreements in the light of the upcoming HELCOM Ministerial meeting scheduled in 2018 under the EU Chairmanship in HELCOM.The participants also discussed means to strengthen cooperation between countries and engagement of municipalities to solve environmental challenges in the region. Russian and international experts considered environmental aspects of the realization of large infrastructural projects and cost efficient solutions for reclamation of the HELCOM hot spots such as Krasnyi Bor toxic waste landfill near St.Petersburg. The global problem of littering marine environment was one of the top themes for the discussion. Participants overviewed the results of the implementation of the HELCOM Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter and outlined practical steps forward including specific actions also the Russian partners could undertake to address, specifically, land based sources of litter.The impact of human activities on the sea floor integrity, such as dredging or depositing operation, exploitation of mineral resources and coastal protection, was also a hot topic for the discussion. Experts pointed out the importance of collecting reliable and comprehensive data on these activities, their impact on the marine ecosystem and the potential of the ecosystem to subsequently recover from them.The issues related to prevention of marine environment pollution from land based sources such as management of river basins and the reduction of environmental pressure from agriculture were also discussed. The Baltic Sea Day, organised for the 18th time this year, is an esteemed platform for environmental dialogue and a live meeting point for national, regional as well as global participants representing a wide range of sectors.  It was organised by the city of St.Petersburg and State Company Mineral. * * * Note for editorsWorking to safeguard the marine environment from pollution and ensure safe navigation in the Baltic Sea, acts as the governing body of the 1974 Helsinki Convention. HELCOM’s official name is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission. * * * For more information, please contact:Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky>Professional Secretary>HELCOM>Tel: +358 40 630 9933>Skype: helcom68>E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.fi

Regional cooperation in the Baltic Sea towards reaching the UN sustainable development goals was the key theme in the annual international environmental forum, the Baltic Sea Day, held 22-23 March 2017 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Governments to step up the regional efforts to implement ocean-related UN Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea

The high-level representatives of the Baltic Sea countries and EU discussed a common approach to reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Baltic Sea region, in a held on 28 February 2017 in Helsinki. HELCOM members decided to coordinate the regional implementation of ocean-related SDGs in the Baltic Sea using the HELCOM platform.High-level represenatives: (back row from left) Mindaugas Gudas, Lithuania; Iveta Teibe, Latvia; Helge Wendenburg, Germany; Per Ängquist, Swden; Harry Liiv, Estonia; Vladimir Ivlev, Russia; (front row from left) Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM; Mariusz Gajda, Poland; Marianne Wenning, HELCOM; Lisbet Ølgaard, Denmark; Hannele Pokka; Finland; Joanna Drake, European UnionThe delegates committed to strengthening the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, to achieve a Baltic Sea in good environmental status, as a milestone to fulfil the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Further, renewing the Baltic Sea Action Plan was widely supported, to incorporate a longer term perspective and jointly address identified gaps and emerging issues. More specifically, the high-level representatives saw the need to speed up the implementation of the marine litter regional action plan, continue the battle against eutrophication, especially to cut inputs of phosphorus, and better incorporate the issue of adaptation to climate change in HELCOM work. The countries will continue the efforts to eliminate pollution hot spots and will also ensure close cooperation on any maritime spatial planning in the Baltic Sea area. Further, HELCOM has been tasked to continue supporting more sustainable agricultural practices and ecosystem-related fishery measures, and promote further regional development of social and economic analyses in support of SDGs. Furthermore, the , to be released in June 2017, is to serve as the baseline scenario for SDG implementation.The HELCOM members concluded that setting up new HELCOM priorities and targets until 2030 will be guided by the SDGs, and expressed willingness to advance partnerships with sectorial bodies as well as to boost local level action. The Baltic Sea high-level meeting was held in advance of the UN Conference “Our oceans, our future: partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14” to be held on 5-7 June 2017 in New York, co-organized by Sweden and Fiji.The high-level segment starts preparatory process for the Ministerial Meeting in 2018 under the EU Chairmanship of HELCOM.The document adopted by the meeting can be found on the .>* * * Note for editors HELCOM is one of the Regional Sea Conventions and Action Plans around the world, working for healthy oceans and sustainable us of marine resources. HELCOM consists 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:Susanna Kaasinen Agri-Environment Coordinator HELCOM Tel. +358 40 536 5819 Skype: helcom85 Email: susanna.kaasinen(at)helcom.fi ​

The high-level representatives of the Baltic Sea countries and EU discussed a common approach to reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Baltic Sea region, in a HELCOM meeting held on 28 February 2017.

HELCOM works to reach ocean-related UN Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea

High-level representatives of the Baltic Sea countries and the EU will meet on 28 February 2017 on the occasion of the 38th Meeting of the Helsinki Commission to discuss how the ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals and targets can be met in the Baltic Sea by 2030, particularly in relation to eutrophication, marine litter and climate change.

The delegates will also focus on the role and tasks of HELCOM to support future implementation of SDGs, as well as discuss how HELCOM should enhance cooperation to reach effective results and which partnerships should be strengthened.

The high-level representatives are expected to adopt the Implementation Outlook of the Ocean-related SDGs in the Baltic Sea – A Roadmap to Agenda 2030, which will guide future work in HELCOM.

The high-level segment is organized in line with the priorities of EU Chairmanship of HELCOM (2016-2018).

HELCOM countries and EU have already contributed to achieving the UN goals by adopting the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan and committing to a Baltic Sea in good environmental status by 2021.

Ten years since its adoption, 64 out of 106 regional actions and 11 out of 68 national level actions of the Baltic Sea Action Plan have been fully implemented so far, with successes in setting up a nutrient reduction scheme, curbing airborne emission and discharges from shipping, piloting ecosystem approach in maritime spatial planning, and covering 11.8% of the Baltic Sea with marine protected areas.

All these examples showcase the added value of a regional approach especially to reach the SDG 14 “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”

The HELCOM high-level session is held in advance of the upcoming UN Conference “Our oceans, our future: partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14” to be held on 5-9 June 2017 in New York, co-chaired and co-funded by Sweden together with Fiji. The conference is an opportunity to share experiences from the Baltic Sea region.

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Note for editors

The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization 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.

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For more information, please contact:
Susanna Kaasinen
Agri-Environment Coordinator, HELCOM
Tel. +358 40 536 5819
mail: susanna.kaasinen(at)helcom.fi​

Baltic environment in focus of international forum held in Russia

​​​​​​The annual Intern​ational Environmental Forum “Baltic Sea Day” will be held for the 18th time on 22-23 of March 2017 in St. Petersburg, RussiaUN targets, Nord Stream 2 and Krasnyi Bor toxic waste landfill among the topics  he roundtables of the XVIII International Environmental Forum “”, held on 22-23 March 2017 in St. Petersburg, Russia, will cover global and regional challenges as well as implementation of environmental projects and programs in the light of the EU Chairmanship in HELCOM.  This year, the event is a part of the frame of the Year of Ecology in Russia and expected to attract, as usual, a high number of participants representing a wide range of experts, authorities and the general public as well as high level speakers tate of the Baltic Sea report – or, HOLAS II – and its forthcoming results mid-2017 will be one topic of the Forum roundtables.The agenda of the Forum, based on the proposals by key stakeholders, reflects the latest issues concerning the Baltic Sea environment and current regional activities assuring good environmental status of the Sea and environmental safety in the region. he agenda includes several round tables devoted e.g. to the following topics: United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, other strategies etc. State of the Baltic Sea report (full title: Second Holistic Assessment of the Environmental Health of the Baltic Sea): HELCOM projects, trilateral cooperation for the Gulf of FinlandNord Stream 2Remediation of the toxic waste landfill Krasnyi BorMaritime traffic, agriculture, marine litter> The event is included in the list of activities of the Marine Board of St. Petersburg and activities of St. Petersburg City, being part of the 2017 Year of Ecology in Russia. As is the tradition, the Forum is supported by HELCOM countries and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation etailed information including a draft agenda and other practicalities will be made updated at the website of the organizers () articipation is free of charge. or additional information and suggestions please contact:Ms. Natalia BobylevaTel: +7 (812) 470-6012E-mail:  Mr. Dmitry Frank-KamenetskyProfessional Secretary, HELCOMTel: +358 40 630 9933E-mail: dmitry.frank-kamenetsky(at)helcom.f​ * * * Note for editorsThe Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization 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.​​​​

The annual International Environmental Forum “Baltic Sea Day” will be held for the 18th time on 22-23 of March 2017 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

HELCOM delegates discuss the key Baltic Sea goals of 2017

​​​​​​​Greenlighting key tools and indicators for State of the Baltic Sea report a major topic in HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting this week High-level segment on ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals to take place on 28 February 2017   Delegations representing all Baltic coastal states as well as the EU this week at HELCOM headquarters to discuss and decide on the best measures for improving the Baltic marine environment. HELCOM holistic assessment 2017, a major discussion point by HELCOM delegates this week, will also rely on the upgraded tools to assess the themes of biodiversity, hazardous substances and eutrophication. Photo: Metsähallitus NHS/Niina Kurikka.The meeting participants will face major decisions required for completing HELCOM State of the Baltic Sea report (), first results due in mid-2017. Draft Recommendations on sewage sludge and conservation of underwater biotopes and habitats are expecting agreement. The 2-day meeting will also discuss the final plans for the HELCOM high-level segment on ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals, taking place on 28 February 2017.The delegates, observers and other stakeholders attending the meeting in Helsinki, Finland will seek final unanimity for few main components of the State of the Baltic Sea report (HOLAS II, full name: Second Holistic Assessment of the Ecosystem Health of the Baltic Sea). The final shape of used for the assessment must now be agreed on. The holistic assessment will also rely on the upgraded tools to assess the themes of biodiversity, hazardous substances and eutrophication, improved since the previous Holistic Assessment of 2010, and two of them are expecting final blessings from the delegations this week.One of the many HELCOM outcomes from the past six months include the thoroughly revised HELCOM Response Manual Vol III to Pollution Incidents on the , which the delegates are invited to endorse. Moreover, an agreement is expected on a regional implementation plan for the IMO Water Management Convention, entering into force globally in September next year. Compilations of pollution load data () have been an integral part of HELCOM assessment system since 1987. The next edition, PLC-7, is expecting approval for being prepared by 2020 and covering the data from 1995 until 2017. HELCOM will host a high-level as a part of its Annual Meeting in the end of February 2017 and the agenda will now be discussed. The session will focus on how to achieve ocean-related UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Baltic Sea and progress in addressing the regional environmental challenges. The many aligning targets and goals of the UN and HELCOM are the underlying factor for the session. HELCOM is one of 18 Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans in the world working together under the umbrella of UNEP and instrumental in the work on SDGs.The 51st Meeting of the Heads of Delegation will be held on 14-15 December 2016 in Helsinki, Finland and chaired by HELCOM Chair Ms Marianne Wenning, DG Environment, European Union. . All documents will be public after the meeting. * * * Note for editors:An update on the overall state of ecosystem health in the Baltic Sea is underway. Improved tools as well as more comprehensive approaches will be applied in the State of the Baltic Sea report (full name: Second Holistic Assessment of Ecosystem Health in the Baltic Sea, ). This major assessment will assist the region’s environmental managers and decision-makers who are to base their work on sound, up-to-date knowledge of the status of the sea. The State of the Baltic Sea report will develop common concepts and methods for the status assessment based on core indicators; create and test the tools for aggregated results and, finally, perform assessments at a regional scale. Importantly, the assessment will also include a socio-economic analysis, about the costs of a deteriorating marine environment, as well as a selection of optimal measures for improving the status of the sea. The first results will be released in mid-2017 and updated during the following 12 months. * * * HELCOM Heads of Delegation, nominated by the to the Helsinki Convention which are the nine Baltic coastal states as well as the EU, usually meet twice a year. The highest decision-making body of HELCOM, Annual Meeting, convenes usually in March. * * * The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization 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 Laurila Information Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988 Skype: helcom70 E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi​

Greenlighting key tools and indicators for State of the Baltic Sea report a major issue in HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting this week.

More transparency and political leadership called for in HELCOM seminar

​​​​​Major sectors in the Baltic Sea spoke out about HELCOM pollution reduction targetsMarine environment protection was high in the agenda of the EUSBSR Strategy Forum in Stockholm this week

Major sectors in the Baltic Sea spoke out about HELCOM pollution reduction targets in this week’s seminar in the EUSBSR Strategy Forum in Stockholm.

Debate about sectors' role in reducing pollution in the Baltic 8 November 2016

​​​​​​​​HELCOM will host a morning seminar on Tuesday 8 November 2016 at 09.30-10.30 in Stockholm, Sweden, on the occasion of the 7th Strategy Forum of the EU Regional Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR).​​The seminar, in a form of a debate, is entitled ‘”This is what we need to do for a cleaner sea.” Sectors have their say’.> You can send questions and comment in Twitter: #HELCOM16 The Secretariat has invited representatives of the most relevant marine industries and sectors to speak out their minds about the actions done so far to reach the HELCOM targets in better protecting the Baltic marine environment; whether the present measures are sufficient and if not, why not; and what kind of cooperation, or support, would be welcomed from the policy and science communities, for more speedily reaching the agreed goals. Commentators representing the scientific community, policy-makers and the political level will provide complementary comments and bring in any missing perspective or arguments. State Secretary of Sweden, Mr. Per Ängquist will present the concluding remarks. A short outcome document will be prepared by HELCOM and shared in due time. Please find more information about the seminar, and other HELCOM presence in the EUSBSR Strategy Forum, in the .​​

HELCOM will host a morning seminar ‘“This is what we need to do for a cleaner sea.” Sectors have their say’ in Stockholm, Sweden, in the EUSBSR Strategy Forum – take part in Twitter.

Healthy Baltic Sea and sustainable growth discussed by the Ministers

​​HELCOM high level session spoke strongly for cross-sectoral and integrated approach in maritime policies High level participants from the Baltic Sea countries and EU, including the European Commissioner Karmenu Vella and Minister of Agriculture and the Environment of Finland Kimmo Tiilikainen, debated yesterday in a HELCOM session in Turku Finland, about how to protect the marine environment while enabling sustainable use and blue economy. ​ HELCOM Executive Secretary Monika Stankiewicz, European Commissioner Karmenu Vella and Minister of Agriculture and the Environment of Finland Kimmo Tiilikainen​.It was pointed out that the economic activities from our seas and oceans that respect environmental boundaries – blue growth – is a great opportunity. The economy depends on healthy seas and there is vast untapped potential for sustainable growth at sea. Protecting our seas and oceans can only be effective if it is seen as a common task within sectorial policies. Moreover, evaluating and demonstrating economic benefits derived from a healthy Baltic Sea is a key factor for ensuring environmental sustainability in economic growth. There is a role to play for RSCs such as HELCOM in reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals adopted last fall also by all the Baltic coastal states. The participants brought up many examples from marine sectors such as marine litter, shipping, fisheries and maritime spatial planning, among others, where successful national practices have taken place – and also where regional governance, and integrated policies, should be of particular concern.                                                                                           “Working with HELCOM brings all Baltic countries and the EU together in their efforts to protect the marine environment in the Baltic Sea and to ensure that it provides a sustainable future for marine life and people who earn their living from it,” said Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. “HELCOM is a great example of effective regional ocean governance and during our forthcoming Chairmanship we intend to make it even stronger.  During our HELCOM presidency over the next two years we will focus on three main priorities: improving our response to the challenges the Baltic Sea faces; managing its resources sustainably; and promoting knowledge and innovation.” Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of Agriculture and the Environment of Finland said that only if all countries bordering the sea continue to work actively, engage private actors and companies likewise – and find clever and effective ways to take the action that is needed – will the Baltic Sea become and remain clean and healthy. A lot has already been achieved but there is still a great challenge ahead of us – which can also be seen as an opportunity. The Minister also reminded that the high-level HELCOM session of today facilitates the preparations and way forward to the next HELCOM Ministerial Meeting scheduled for 2018.  The HELCOM Ministerial Session, hosted by the Finnish Environment Minister, was open for public and attracted a large audience. The event was arranged simultaneously with the 2016 European Maritime Day. The video recording of the event will be made available through the event web page by the end of May.​Session participants:Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment of Finland Harry Liiv, HELCOM Chair, Ministry of the Environment of EstoniaJan Olsson, Environment Ambassador, Ministry of the Environment and Energy/Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Heike Imhoff, EU Water Director at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear SafetySilver Vahtra, Head of Delegation for HELCOM, Ministry for the Environment of EstoniaJoanna Kopczyńska, Head of Delegation for HELCOM, Ministry of the Environment of Poland * * * Note for editorsThe Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization 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 SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70​E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi

High level participants spoke strongly for cross-sectoral and integrated approach in maritime policies in HELCOM Ministerial Session.

Baltic environment forum held in St. Petersburg

​​​A chance for environmental dialogue and speaking out recent ideas about the Baltic Sea marine protection started today at the 17th International in St. Petersburg, Russia. The continuing practice of a crowded annual event on marine protection during twenty years gives evidence that sharing experiences on a regional level is of great value. The main organizer of the 2-day forum is the St. Petersburg Public Organisation «». The year 2017 will be announced as the Year of Environment and Nature Protected Areas in the Russian Federation. Photo: Metsähallitus NHS/Essi Keskinen.Hundreds of participants have again joined the plenary as well as six roundtables packed with information on cleantech solutions, nature protection, agriculture and awareness raising, among others. Policy frameworks on most topics will be introduced and exchange ensured on current research and scientific results.  The roundtable on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP), for instance, has a good representation of the different Ministries connected with MSP ​in the Russian Federation, important as in many countries the responsibility on MSP may fall under different, or several, Ministries.  The session on Chemical pollution focuses on identification of the priority chemicals polluting the Baltic Sea, and also the availability of data on inputs of nutrients, heavy metals and synthetic organic pollutants for a region-wide assessment. Four individual contributions will focus on pharmaceuticals in the Baltic Sea, timely also in the sense that HELCOM will release an assessment on the topic later this year. This year, the awards for personal contributions to the development of cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, given by the V.I. Vernadskiy Ecological Fund, were given to Jacek Zaucha, Poland, VASAB Committee on Spatial Planning and Development of the Baltic Sea Region; as well as Dietrich Schulz, Germany, Federal Environment Agency and Chair of HELCOM Group on Sustainable Agricultural Practices; and Kai Myrberg, Senior Researcher, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), among others.Mr. Jacek Zauha receiving the V.I. Vernadskiy Ecological Fund award.  with full programme and speakers. Selected presentations will later be available. * * * Note for editorsThe Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization 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 SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi​

The continuing practice of a crowded event on marine protection gives evidence that sharing experiences on a regional level is of great value.

Statement of HELCOM Executive Secretary in 37th HELCOM Annual Meeting

​​Dear Colleagues,The milestone of the year 2015 was the adoption of the Regional Action Programme for Marine Litter in June. Concrete work for the plan started in May 2014, following the Ministerial commitment in 2013 binding all the Baltic coastal governments and EU. The drafting process, led by Germany, benefited from the expertise of non-governmental organizations, research institutions, industry, administration and authorities. Thanks to the wide consultations the plan is very comprehensive and includes an excellent set of actions to combat marine litter. Now the challenge is to find leaders and implementers for each action so that fine ideas are followed by concrete work and results. I am glad that we could take this forward in the HELCOM Marine Litter Stakeholder Conference held on Wednesday.In October the modernized database of Baltic Sea Marine Protected Areas (HELCOM MPAs) was released. The database provides easy and user-friendly access – for anybody interested – to detailed and new information on coastal and marine HELCOM MPAs such as on human pressures, threat categories and monitoring of species, biotopes and biotope complexes as well as about national protection status. I can proudly say that the HELCOM MPA database stands out among other similar databases on regional and global levels, particularly because of its vast coverage and because the information is contains is current.  The comparable data sets and assessments of pollution loads cover both the nine HELCOM countries and also more distant transboundary sources; they are unique from a worldwide perspective. Without this data it would be impossible to assess major pressures from human activities. Last year a new approach was introduced and agreed to the future Pollution Load Compilation (PLC) assessments. This will ensure more clearly distinguished products, smooth and operationalized regular updating of the products, and better sharing of responsibilities of different actors for timely delivery.One of these new products prepared and released in December was the assessment of progress towards reaching Country-allocated Reduction Targets. This was a major scientific achievement considering the complexity of the issue and high political interest, and we thank all the dedicated scientists and experts for the product. At the same time, it has become evident that there is a new need for a more concise product for policy-makers. Implementing this approach in PLC remains a main task – for all of us – also for this year, but it can only happen with the active involvement of more Contracting Parties. I am especially proud what we have managed to achieve within the project on making HELCOM eutrophication assessments operational (EUTRO-OPER). This project resulted in a tool for the integration of indicators, an assessment protocol, and a solution to increase the comparability of assessment of open sea and coastal waters. But importantly, work and data flows have been automated, including in-built step-wise approval procedure by national experts of the assessment product, providing a solid system for easy updates of the eutrophication assessment in the future. This was accomplished in partnership with ICES. The ambition is to follow this approach also for other themes as far as possible, within the work on the Second Holistic Assessment of the Ecosystem Health of the Baltic Sea (HOLASII).  The preparation of HOLAS II was at full speed last year and will continue to be the major umbrella activity of HELCOM in the near future. The aim is not only to produce a single assessment publication, but to create a longer-lasting and web-based system to serve future updates, and to enable better use nationally and increased outreach. This means improved documentation, semi-automation and use of the HELCOM working structure to maintain the system as opposed to project-maintained assessment.All necessary ingredients for making HOLAS II a success are in place – it has been planned in detail and is well coordinated, Contracting Parties are committed and their best experts are engaged, and for the first time ever I can state that I feel comfortable in terms of available resources for the exercise (albeit not all needs can be secured yet). EU grants for two actions we call BalticBOOST and HELCOM TAPAS projects have significantly helped in this respect and are very much appreciated.This carefully planned assessment will also be truly holistic, as it will include integrated assessment of themes on eutrophication, hazardous substances and biodiversity, and results of separate HELCOM Maritime Assessment will be used as well. Commercial fish species, as they are part of the marine ecosystem, will also be assessed, along with cumulative pressures and impacts from major human activities, based on the improved data and information. Marine litter and underwater noise, not assessed previously, will be new elements. For the first time, a social and economic analysis will also be truly incorporated into the HELCOM assessment by linking human activities to pressures and impacts on ecosystem components within one holistic framework. The work on social and economic analysis that started last year may prove itself to be one of the milestones or a break-through for future HELCOM work. Such aspect has been largely lacking in HELCOM work so far, which has prevented full use of HELCOM results in many spheres and sectors. We have now fair chances to rectify this obvious shortcoming. So we stand firm in terms of preparing HOLAS II in HELCOM. But there are other circumstances and processes that influence our work and need to be catered for. On the European level a parallel process takes place to make assessments. It makes no sense to duplicate the work, and the HELCOM countries that are also EU members have already agreed to use HOLAS II as the basis of the national assessments under the EUMSFD.>While I am absolutely convinced it will be possible to cater also for this need, I find it of paramount importance that both immediate national management needs and longer-term HELCOM policy needs are met, and that:the HELCOM assessment system improves and is based on the best available sciencethat we are able to compare the outcome to the previous assessment that we show how far from reaching the Good Environmental Status (GES) we are – as likely most of the areas in the Baltic Sea will be still short of the target – and that we also show progress and improvement.We will not be in a position to maintain political attention unless we start demonstrating the effects our decisions and actions are bringing.Last but not least, two issues that have been or are about to be concluded during this Meeting are important accomplishments as well: a new HELCOM Recommendation on sustainable aquaculture, efficiently led by the Fish group, established not so long ago but already working at full speed, and a decision to submit the proposal by HELCOM countries to designate the Baltic Sea as a NECA IMO MEPC 70, in parallel with the North Sea NECA submission. This has been a splendid meeting of the Helsinki Commission, thank you Contracting Parties, Observers and colleagues in the Secretariat.  

The Statement of Executive Secretary on the work of HELCOM Secretariat including her comments and evaluation of the work of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies.