Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan: HELCOM Ministers to adopt an ambitious programme of actions and measures for a healthy Baltic Sea

The way towards a healthy Baltic Sea will be charted during the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting 2021, to be held in Lübeck, Germany, on 20 October 2021, where the HELCOM Ministers and the EU Commissioner for the Environment are planning to adopt the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan.

“The Lübeck Ministerial Meeting is particularly significant because the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan will influence and guide our regional efforts towards a healthy Baltic Sea for the next decade,” said Rüdiger Strempel, Executive Secretary of HELCOM.

Initially adopted in 2007 by the nine Baltic Sea countries and the EU, who constitute the HELCOM Contracting Parties, the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) is HELCOM’s strategic programme of concrete actions and measures for a healthy Baltic Sea. The HELCOM Contracting Parties agreed on the update of the BSAP in 2018 when it became clear that the goal of good environmental status of the Baltic Sea would not be attained by 2021.

“The BSAP remains one of the most effective tools at our disposal for achieving the ecological objectives we have envisioned for the Baltic Sea, which is why the HELCOM countries decided to update it,” explained Strempel, adding that the current plan has contributed substantially to improving the state of the sea’s marine environment.

The updated BSAP will contain about 200 concrete actions and measures addressing biodiversity, eutrophication, hazardous substances, and sea-based activities such as shipping and fisheries. In addition, it will also include new actions on emerging or previously less focussed on pressures such as climate change, marine litter, pharmaceuticals, underwater noise, and seabed disturbance. All actions are to be implemented by 2030 at the latest.

“The update is intended to ensure that the BSAP remains fit-for-purpose in tackling the Baltic Sea’s challenges today and for many years to come,” said Strempel.

In Lübeck, in addition to the updated BSAP, the Ministers are also expected to adopt the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy, the Regional Maritime Spatial Planning Roadmap 2021-2030, the HELCOM Science Agenda, and the HELCOM Guidelines for sea-based measures to manage internal nutrient reserves.

side-event on regional investments in the seascape, hosted by the NGOs WWF and Coalition Clean Baltic, will also be held in connection with the Ministerial Meeting. The event is open to all.

Generally, the HELCOM Ministerial Meetings take place every three years and are attended by the minister in charge of environmental matters or maritime affairs of each Baltic Sea country, and, for the EU, the Commissioner for the Environment. 

Germany currently holds the rotating chairmanship of HELCOM and will be hosting the Ministerial Meeting 2021 in the medieval city of Lübeck, famous as a major former Hanseatic trade hub in the Baltic Sea region.