Underestimated potential of the Baltic Sea explored by science and policy experts The many benefits of ecosystems and wise marine management in the Baltic Sea area top the agenda of a workshop starting today, bringing together regional, European and global science and policy experts to share knowledge, experiences and forward-looking ideas. The general understanding of values and benefits that the ecosystem services bring to human societies is still limited and mainly focuses on terrestrial ecosystems. The presents examples and practical guidance on how this can be changed in the future to support marine management and decision-making. The 2-day workshop is organized by Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (), , and , and co-funded by the . “The potential of well-maintained marine environment is not acknowledged to its full by economic sectors and in maritime spatial planning,” says Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM’s Executive Secretary. “The Baltic Sea supplies many ecosystem services that contribute to human well-being, ranging from fish resources and regulation of climate conditions to biogeochemical nutrient cycling, which in turn impact various sectors of regional economy, e.g. fisheries, shipping and tourism. As benefits provided by nature are not sufficiently recognized, political and management decisions regulating these and other sectors may not be optimal in terms of sustainable use of the Baltic Sea resources.” Knowledge on the benefits provided by marine and coastal ecosystems can support reaching the objectives of the , and also assist in the implementation of other requirements such as the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Valuation of ecosystem services draws attention to the trade-offs between the protection of the marine environment and other economic activities, and might, therefore, assist in designing and executing policies more efficiently. It also allows for comparing the estimated benefits of environmental protection measures with their costs to assess the economic efficiency of environmental projects and programmes. The cost-benefit analyses can be also useful in setting environmental targets and in deciding how to allocate public spending. In addition, valuation is one of the ways to take into account public values of favourable environmental condition and encourage public participation in decision-making. The latter process still underutilises the role of ecosystem values and benefits as a supporting tool, due to lacking coherent methodology. The Workshop in Stockholm will pave the way for better use of the instrument of evaluating ecosystems in both national as well as regional decision-making, for reaching good environmental status of the Baltic Sea. * * * Note for editors: 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 governed the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention. * * *For further information, please contact:Ms. Heini AhtiainenProject ResearcherHELCOMSkype: helcom62E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Ms. Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: email@example.com
The many benefits of ecosystems, their underestimated potential and wise marine management top the agenda of a workshop starting today in Stockholm.