Have the efforts to save the Baltic Sea failed? The new survey will tell us

At the Annual Forum of the Baltic Sea Strategy held in Tallinn in June the Spatial Foresight centre of policy studies presents its EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region after 2020 study, which analyses and provides guidance on how to improve the policies of the Baltic Sea Region to achieve goals, such as a decrease in the level of pollution to such an extent as to achieve a clean Baltic Sea by 2021.

The problems raised by the Spatial Foresight policy study are the complicated management system and lack of flexibility. “It is essential to simplify management, to target financing more specifically and in a more needs-based manner and to react quickly to new trends and challenges. It is also important that the Baltic Sea programmes have more specific focuses and tasks. It is good to see that this has been the case in recent years,” said Dr. Kai Böhme, one of the authors of the survey.

“All signs indicate that the will to cooperate has increased among the Baltic Sea states and this gives hope that in the next ten years much better results will be achieved; however, one needs to be flexible and keep up with the ongoing changes,” stated Böhme.

The survey gives important input based on the environmental trends for making political decisions to improve the Baltic Sea Strategy. “The survey includes several practical pieces of advice on how to improve cooperation in order to achieve the set objectives, such as the restoration of the ecological balance of the Baltic Sea. We will discuss how to move forward with the Baltic Sea Strategy at a high-level forum in June,” said Foreign Minister Sven Mikser.

The Baltic Sea is one of the most polluted inland seas in the world, mostly due to the economic activities of the developed countries located around the sea and the thousands of tons of chemical weapons thrown into the waters during the Second World War as well as overfishing and dense sea transport.

The European Union (EU) has set an objective to restore the good ecological balance of the Baltic Sea, but the steps to achieve the goal on time have not, for various reasons, been efficient enough. As the first regional macro-strategy of the EU Member States the cooperation network of the Baltic Sea Strategy should, indeed, provide necessary cooperation possibilities for solving complex problems.

The 9th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region will take place in Tallinn on 4‒5 June 2018. The forum is organised by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Baltic Development Forum and other partners, in cooperation with the European Commission. It is co-financed from the programme of the European Regional Development Fund – Interreg Baltic Sea Region.

The annual forum will bring together almost 700 participants from governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, universities as well as local and regional governments.

The main topic of the 9th Annual Forum is the Baltic Sea region after 2020. In addition, the participants will discuss the contribution of the strategy in the improvement of the state of the ecosystem of the Baltic Sea region and how to advance the region as a global digital centre.

The countries participating in the Baltic Sea Strategy are Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Finland and Denmark.

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