HELCOM to unveil draft Baltic Sea Action Plan at March Conference
Helsinki, 26 January (HELCOM Information Service) – The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (Helsinki Commission) confirmed today that it will unveil the initial draft of its ambitious action plan to restore the Baltic Sea at the 2nd International Stakeholder Conference on the development of the Baltic Sea Action Plan, which is to take place on 6 March 2007 in Helsinki, Finland.
“The development of the action plan is proceeding according to the schedule agreed by the Baltic Sea countries, and by the beginning of March we hope to have ready the outline of actions to be included in the new HELCOM strategy,” said Anne Christine Brusendorff, HELCOM’s Executive Secretary. “We must, of course, acknowledge that there is still a long way to go before getting things completely agreed and done, but let me assure everyone that our plans and preparations are on track," Brusendorff added.
The purpose of this Conference is to discuss with all relevant stakeholders the content of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan and in particular the proposed actions for the four top priority areas: eutrophication, pollution involving hazardous substances, maritime safety and accident response capacity, and habitat destruction and the decline in biodiversity. The financial aspects of the plan’s implementation and the cost-efficiency of measures will be one of the top issues. The overall objective of this Conference is to get acceptance and commitments at local, national and regional levels as well as from the private sector to the implementation of this new environmental strategy to further reduce pollution in the Baltic Sea and repair the damage done to the marine environment.
The preparations for the Stakeholder Conference are at full swing. Many high-level government officials from all the Baltic Sea countries and the EU, prominent environmental scientists, business leaders, and representatives of major regional organisations have already expressed their interest to participate in the Conference and discuss the plan to rescue the troubled Baltic marine environment.
“The outcome of the various sessions of the Conference will serve as an input to the ongoing process to develop the Baltic Sea Action Plan. HELCOM considers this input very important and is committed to respond to any suggestion raised by major stakeholder groups in the region in order to ensure that the future action plan is relevant and can be effectively implemented in practice,” said Brusendorff.
Representatives of the Baltic Sea coastal countries are currently in a process of detailing the kind of actions needed to achieve the agreed environmental objectives within a given time frame. Acting as Lead Countries, Finland and Latvia are drafting possible activities needed to curb eutrophication, Germany, Lithuania and Sweden - to prevent pollution involving hazardous substances, Denmark and Russia - to improve maritime safety and oil pollution response capacity, and Estonia and Poland - to halt habitat destruction and the decline in biodiversity.
The concept of this strategy, which is based on a specially defined set of Ecological Objectives, has already been backed by the European Union, and highlighted as a model to be followed by other regional marine conventions.
The 2nd Stakeholder Conference will pave the way for the final stage in the development of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan. After a series of meetings to finalise the plan, the new environmental strategy will be adopted at the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting scheduled to take place on 15 November 2007 in Krakow, Poland.
Follow-up: Tentative programme for the 2nd Stakeholder Conference on the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (the final version of the Conference programme will be prepared in the coming weeks, please check the HELCOM web site for updates) http://www.helcom.fi/BSAP/2nd/en_GB/2nd_Stakeholder_Conf/ .
Members of the news media wishing to cover the Conference should contact HELCOM Information Secretary Nikolay Vlasov at +358 (0) 207 412 635 or send an e-mail with their name, affiliation and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org in advance (by 2 March) to arrange for credentials.
Note to Editors:
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, more usually known as the Helsinki Commission, or HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organisation of all the nine Baltic Sea countries and the EU which works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution.
HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area," known as the Helsinki Convention.
In 2005, the Helsinki Commission resolved to create a Baltic Sea Action Plan, which would set out a new strategy to reduce pollution and reverse the marine environment degradation. The concept of this ambitious plan of actions, which has already been widely heralded as a pilot project for the European seas under the EU Marine Strategy, will provide a unique opportunity to take wide-ranging and purposeful actions to achieve the ultimate target of having a healthy marine environment with balanced eco-systems for the benefit of present and future generations.
The consultation process on the development of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan was officially launched at the kick-off Stakeholder Conference held on 7 March 2006 in Helsinki, Finland. In March 2006, the annual HELCOM meeting approved the first core elements of the action plan - a common vision of a healthy Baltic Sea and a set of strategic goals and ecological objectives for achieving a commonly acceptable good status of the marine environment.
Following the final Stakeholder Conference in March 2007 and a series of meetings, the finalised environmental strategy will be adopted at a HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, which will take place on 14-15 November 2007 in Krakow, Poland.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Nikolay Vlasov
Tel: +358 (0)207 412 635
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 639