Gathering around 500 participants from administration, science, business, NGOs, and the mass media, the 19th International Environmental Forum "Baltic Sea Day", supported by HELCOM, was arranged 22–23 March in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The long-running yearly event represents a valuable opportunity for exchange of research and ideas between many sectors and on all levels, from regional to national and local. The Forum was attended by representatives from all Baltic Sea states, several other European countries, and Belarus, as well as almost all Federal States of Russia situated in the Baltic Sea catchment area, including Kaliningrad region, Karelia, Novgorod region, Leningrad oblast and St. Petersburg.
At the opening of the Forum, a solemn moment was devoted to Mr Leonid Korovin, a driving force of the Baltic Sea Day tradition, who passed away last summer.
The cornerstone of the Forum discussions was the outcome of the recent HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, held in Brussels, Belgium on 6 March. The newly-adopted Ministerial Declaration represents a strong commitment to renewed efforts for the Baltic Sea. The introductory plenary session at the Baltic Sea Day Forum highlighted on two of the main themes of the Declaration: stronger follow-through on the existing Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) and updating the BSAP beyond its current deadline of 2021.
High-level panel participants, from left: Natalia Tretiakova (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation), Nuritdin Inamov (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation), Monika Stankiewicz (HELCOM Executive Secretary), Hannele Pokka (Ministry of Environment, Finland), Matjaz Malgaj (European Union, HELCOM Vice-Chair). Photo: Sara Estlander / HELCOM.
A highlight of the Forum was a high-level panel discussion, featuring Mr Matjaz Malgaj (European Commission, HELCOM Vice-Chair), Dr Hannele Pokka (Ministry of Environment, Finland), Ms Natalia Tretiakova (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation), and Ms Monika Stankiewicz (HELCOM Executive Secretary). The panel was moderated by Mr Nuritdin Inamov of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation.
The panel focused on BSAP implementation, discussing questions such as what the major obstacles are for implementing the BSAP and how to overcome them, what contribution the trilateral Gulf of Finland cooperation has had to BSAP implementation, and how BSAP implementation could be enforced. Other themes included the nutrient recycling strategy to be developed within HELCOM, and the relation between HELCOM and EU policies in other regions.
Aside from plenaries and panels, participants took part in roundtable discussions on subjects such as nutrient recycling in agriculture, sustainable water management, and maritime spatial planning as a marine conservation tool. Other roundtable themes included the role of municipalities in implementing the Baltic Sea Action Plan, and environmental education and awareness.
The Manure Standards project held its national (Russian) kick-off meeting within the framework of the Forum. During the second Forum day, the EnviSuM project held a workshop on impacts from ship emissions and on the possibilities of collaboration in the Baltic Sea Region.
Throughout the presentations and discussions, there was a strong focus on the great value of sharing experiences between regions and sectors.
This year, Ms Natalia Kutaeva, Vice Chair of HELCOM Maritime Group and Councellor to the Director, Marine Rescue Service of Rosmorrechflot, and Ms Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM Executive Secretary, were presented with the Order of Vernadsky award "For personal contributions to the development of cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region" of the V.I. Vernadsky Ecological Fund. The Order of Verdnasky award was also presented to Ms Olga Rublevskaya SUE "Vodokanal of St. Petersburg", Mr Ivan Serebritsky, Committee for Nature Use, Environmental Protection and Ecological Safety of St. Petersburg, and Ms Liudmila Vesikko, Finnish Environment Institute.
The Forum was organized by the Government of St. Petersburg and State Company Mineral, and supported by HELCOM, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, and the Environmental Committee of St. Petersburg.
The XIX Baltic Sea Day was arranged in the new EXPOFORUM venue. In parallel with the Forum, the exhibition "Ecology in the Big City" was presented in an adjacent hall.
For more information, see the event web page with full programme and speakers. Twitter hashtag: #BalticSeaDay
* * * 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.
* * * 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
Baltic Sea Day event web page
Twitter hashtag: #BalticSeaDay
HELCOM Ministerial Meeting 2018
Baltic Sea Action Plan
Manure Standards project