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Monika Stankiewicz presenting HELCOM and the case of the Baltic Sea at the UN Regular Process multi-stakeholder dialogue event at UN headquarters in New York on 25 January 2019.


To strengthen marine assessments around the world, the United Nations convened a capacity building conference in New York from 24 to 25 January 2019. HELCOM was invited to share its experience about assessing the Baltic Sea and managing a regional sea.

HELCOM has recently concluded a major sea assessment spanning from 2011 to 2016, with the results compiled in the State of the Baltic Sea report

During the conference, ocean-literacy emerged to be a central question, with calls by panellists and country representatives to the UN to increase, globally, what we know about the oceans and seas.

The event in New York also highlighted the importance of good science-policy interaction at all levels for pertinent marine assessments.

"Do researchers know what decisions makers need, and do decision makers understand what researchers can do," asked Mr Ariel Troisi from the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) in his opening keynote address, further stressing on the importance of bridging the gap between policy and science for better ocean assessments. 

"Ensuring policy relevance requires frequent interactions between scientists and managers – in the case of the Baltic Sea, HELCOM provides such a policy-science interface," said Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary of HELCOM, during her panel presentation.

According to Stankiewicz, policy relevance must be a major consideration when doing assessments. "In the Baltic Sea, the assessments directly serve various requirements and policy needs the member countries have, whether stemming from regional, European or global processes."

Broadening the scope of assessments to economic and social considerations was another issue addressed during the event by several participants, with a consensus forming on the relation between oceans in good health and economic value.

"Better social and economic analysis is a missing piece of the puzzle in further integrating the marine policies and sectorial policies, and also to link implementation of different Sustainable Development Goals," said Stankiewicz.

The recent HELCOM State of the Baltic Sea assessment includes economic and social analyses, with findings showing that losses linked to eutrophication, and losses to revenue from recreational activities due to a sea in a poor state, could amount to EUR 4.4 billion and EUR 2 billion annually respectively.

Another key ingredient for successful ocean assessments showed to be strong regional cooperation, with Monika Stankiewicz stressing that "Regional Sea Conventions and Actions Plans and other regional bodies help to translate global requirements to national implementation," said Stankiewicz.

The conference – the Multi-stakeholder Dialogue/Capacity-building Partnership Event– was organized by the UN Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects (Regular Process), and was open to representatives of States, United Nations organizations, intergovernmental organizations, and industry and civil society stakeholders.