Baltic Sea Action Plan to take center stage at HELCOM annual meeting

Pressmeddelande   •   Mar 07, 2006 12:50 CET

Helsinki, 3rd March (HELCOM) – Representatives of the nine Baltic Sea countries and the EU will convene at the HELCOM 27th annual Commission Meeting on 8-9 March in Helsinki, Finland, to review the organisation’s progress in the protection of the Baltic Sea marine environment and set new objectives and priorities for future work.

The development of the concept of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan will top the agenda of this year’s meeting. Delegations of the HELCOM Member States are expected to approve the first core element on which this ambitious but realistic plan to restore the Baltic Sea marine environment will be based. It is a jointly agreed vision of a healthy Baltic Sea and a set of strategic goals and ecological objectives for achieving a commonly acceptable good status of the marine environment. The general vision and objectives will dictate the need for actions to be taken jointly by the Baltic Sea countries in order to restore the environment. This new strategy incorporated into the HELCOM action plan differs from the old “sector-by-sector” or “problem-by-problem” approach exercised in prior environmental management, when actions were less based on the aspiration to reach a certain predefined state of the marine environment and more on addressing immediate pollution problems.

The next most important step in the development of the Baltic Sea Action Plan, which is expected to be finalised and adopted by HELCOM in the latter part of 2007, will be to identify and detail the kind of actions needed to achieve the environmental objectives for each of the main environmental priorities within a given timeframe.

The Heads of the Delegation of the HELCOM Member States will look into the outcome of the Stakeholder Conference on the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, which takes place on the 7th March in Helsinki, prior to the Commission’s annual meeting. The main objectives of this conference which will be attended by leading environmental scientists, government officials, business leaders and representatives of major regional organisations, are to inform on the purpose and foreseen activities within the strategic HELCOM plan to restore the Baltic marine environment, and to get input and commitments to its development at the local, national, and regional levels as well as from the private sector.

The Meeting will also approve the establishment of an ad hoc Task Force for the development of the Baltic Sea Action Plan. It will consist of representatives nominated by the HELCOM Member States and also other interested stakeholders, including representatives of NGOs and the private sector. One of the main objectives of the ad hoc Task Force will be to ensure political commitment to the development of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan thereby maintaining a link between scientific work and relevant political processes.

According to the Agenda of the annual meeting, the Heads of Delegation of the HELCOM Member States will discuss working programmes, intersessional work and ongoing projects, including the GEF/World Bank funded Baltic Sea Regional Project, as well as the activities of HELCOM subsidiary Groups. The Meeting will adopt thematic assessment reports on maritime transport, eutrophication, hazardous substances, biodiversity and climate change in the Baltic Sea.

Representatives of the Baltic Sea countries are also expected to adopt the revised Guidelines for the disposal of dredged material at sea, as well as two HELCOM Recommendations on measures to prevent pollution in the Baltic Sea area. One of the HELCOM Recommendation has been designed to promote environmentally friendly practices for the reduction and prevention of emissions of dioxins and other hazardous substances from small scale combustion. Another HELCOM Recommendation requires HELCOM countries to limit emissions into the atmosphere and discharges into water from incineration of waste.

The annual meeting of the Helsinki Commission will take place at the Marina Congress Center in Helsinki. It will be opened by the Chairman of HELCOM, Mr. Arturas Daubaras.


Press release on the Stakeholder Conference on the Baltic Sea Action Plan

Note to Editors:

The Helsinki Commission, or HELCOM, works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental co-operation between the countries bordering the sea - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and also the European Community. HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area," more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Nikolay Vlasov
Information Secretary
Tel: +358 9 62202235
Fax: +358 9 6220 2239