HELCOM 40 years - 1974-2014


Many things have changed – and a few remained the same – during the 40 years of HELCOM work in protecting the Baltic marine environment. Despite the region’s growth in economy, wealth and maritime transport, carrying with them risks of more, or new, pressures to the sea, the polluting nutrients have nevertheless decreased with over 40% during these decades. HELCOM can claim its share for the achievement, having well succeeded in keeping up regular cooperation between all the coastal states and developing environmental policies.


In 1974, Helsinki had won among many eager aspirants to be the host of a historical Conference, climaxing on 22 March with the signing of the Helsinki Convention where all the Contracting States committed to protect the common sea area. This took place just two years after the UN Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, considered as the global milestone in rising environmental awareness.


Helsinki Convention, updated in 1992 in the light of political changes in Europe, still forms the backbone of HELCOM, along with the Recommendations, Baltic Sea Action Plan and Ministerial Declarations. On top of the current Contracting Parties consisting of 9 coastal states and the European Union, HELCOM has an extensive network of observers contributing actively to the protection of the Baltic Sea, and representing governments of third countries, as well as intergovernmental and international non-governmental organizations.  

Programme:  Signing of the first Helsinki Convention 1974

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 Jubilee session

Video recording of the Anniversary Jubilee Session on 5 March 2013  available here

Final programme

 Anniversary video

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 The first convention

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Seven coastal nations signed a historical agreement on Friday 22 March 1974, to protect the Baltic marine environment –
the Helsinki Convention.