The update of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) has taken another concrete step with the launch, in February, of two central initiatives, namely the ACTION project and the HELCOM Platform on Sufficiency of Measures (HELCOM SOM Platform).

Working closely together and drawing on interdisciplinary expertise from across the Baltic Sea region, both initiatives will be analysing if the measures that are currently in place are sufficient to achieve good environmental status for the Baltic Sea.

The initiatives are a direct result from the decision taken earlier in 2018 by the HELCOM Ministers during the last Ministerial Meeting held in Brussels, which provided the mandate to update the BSAP beyond its end date in 2021.

"The new initiatives will provide the scientific underpinning to the next steps that will be decided to achieve good environmental status for the Baltic Sea," said HELCOM Executive Secretary Monika Stankiewicz.

The recent HELCOM State of the Baltic Sea report concludes that, in general, the Baltic Sea is still in a poor state, despite improvements and signs of recovery.

Through the new initiatives, HELCOM and its partners will develop an approach for a regional analysis on the sufficiency of measures, to identify potential gaps in achieving HELCOM goals and objectives, and to estimate the cost-effectiveness of tentative new measures to fill these gaps. 

One approach to measure the gaps will be to develop "business as usual" (BAU) scenarios that will provide a better understanding of how far we are from achieving good environmental status when only implementing the currently agreed upon measures.

The assessment of the sufficiency of measures will be a data-driven process, with expert-based evaluations complementing the analyses where required.

The natural conditions – such as weather patterns – that influence the achievement of good environmental status (GES) in the Baltic Sea region will also be taken into account, including impacts of projected changes in climate.

"While new measures to bridge the gap might be needed in the future, the current focus still remains on strengthening the implementation of the already agreed upon measures," reminded Stankiewicz.



About the HELCOM SOM Platform and the ACTION project

Both the HELCOM SOM Platform and the ACTION project work closely together on the implementation of the sufficiency of measures analyses that will feed the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) update process.

The HELCOM SOM Platform is constituted of experts drawn from various HELCOM groups. It is chaired by Mr Urmas Lips from the Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia. The Vice-chair is Ms Soile Oinonen from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

Co-funded by the EU, the ACTION project is led by HELCOM, with its partners being the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Aarhus University (AU), Tallinn University of Technology (TTU), Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), University of Tartu (UT), and Klaipėda University, Marine Research Institute (KU).

ACTION will run from January 2019 to December 2020. In addition to contributing to the update of the BSAP, it can also be used by HELCOM countries that are also EU members for updating and implementing their MSFD Programme of Measures.