Regions and network

UNEPGEFUniversity of Kalmar
Region 17: Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea Regional Report »

  • Major intergovernmental agreements and actors
  • Action programmes, strategies, and research
  • State of the regional environment
  • GEF Projects in the region
  • Other actors and initiatives
  • GIWA Subregional Task Team

  • Major intergovernmental agreements and actors

    Convention of the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea
    The objectives of the 1992 Helsinki Convention, which entered into force in 2000, is to prevent and eliminate pollution in order to promote the ecological restoration of the Baltic Sea and the preservation of its ecological balance; to apply the precautionary principle; to promote the use of Best Environmental Practice and Best Available Technology; to apply the polluter-pays principle; to ensure that measurements and calculations are carried out in a scientifically appropriate manner; and to ensure that the implementation of the Convention does not cause transboundary pollution in areas outside the Baltic Sea Area. The 1992 Convention
    replaces the original one of 1974. The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, the Helsinki Commission, HELCOM, is the governing body of the Convention. See also the Baltic Marine Environment Bibliography.

    Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources in the Baltic Sea and the Belts
    The objective of the Gdansk Convention, adopted in 1973 and in force in 1974, is to have its members coÐoperate closely with a view to preserving and increasing the living resources of the Baltic Sea and the Belts and obtaining the optimum yield, and, in particular to expanding and co-ordinating studies towards these ends. They are also to prepare and put into effect organizational and technical projects on conservation and growth of the living resources, including measures of artificial reproduction of valuable fish species and/or contribute financially to such measures, on a just and equitable basis, as well as take other steps towards rational and effective exploitation of the living resources. The International Baltic Sea Fisheries Commission, IBSFC, is the governing body of the Convention.

    Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas, 1991 Parties to ASCOBANS are Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Forming part of the Agreement is a Conservation and Management Plan, which requires Parties to: undertake habitat conservation and management; conduct surveys and research; establish an efficient system for reporting and retrieving by-catches and stranded specimens; enforce legislation that prohibits the intentional taking and killing of small cetaceans and creates the obligation to release immediately any animals caught alive and in good health; disseminate information and education to the general public and to fishermen.

    UN Economic Commission for Europe, ECE
    The Environment and Human Settlements Division is part of the secretariat of the UN ECE. It brings together economists, scientists, urban planners and other experts, and organizes the regular intergovernmental meetings of the Committee on Environmental Policy, the Executive Body for the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes and the Committee on Human Settlements. At these meetings, government representatives from Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel address environmental and human settlements issues, such as environmental impact assessment, air and water pollution, urban renewal or land registration.

    Other intergovernmental bodies

    Baltic 21
    An initiative and process to develop and implement a regional Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region in order to attain sustainable development in the region (see below).

    Council of the Baltic Sea States, CBSS
    Serves as an overall regional forum focusing on needs for intensified co-operation and co-ordination among the Baltic Sea States. The aim of the co-operation is to achieve a genuinely democratic development in the Baltic Sea region and a greater unity between the member countries, as well as to secure their favourable economic development. Members of the CBSS are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and the European Commission. In 1996, the CBSS adopted its Action Programme (see below).

    Visions and Strategy 2010, VASAB 2010
    The aim of the VASAB 2010 initiative is to create a common spatial development concept for the Baltic Sea Region. VASAB 2010 was launched by the Baltic Sea ministers for spatial planning and development in 1992. The comprehensive, integrated map of the Baltic Sea Region sums up the major ambitions.

    International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, ICES
    ICES is the oldest intergovernmental organisation in the world concerned with marine and fisheries science. Since its establishment in Copenhagen in 1902, ICES has been a leading scientific forum for the exchange of information and ideas on the sea and its living resources, and for the promotion and coordination of marine research by scientists within its member countries. Since the 1970s, a major area of ICES work as an intergovernmental marine science organization is to provide information and advice to Member Country governments and international regulatory commissions (including the HELCOM, OSPAR, the IBSFC and the European Commission) for the protection of the marine environment and for fisheries conservation.

    Financial institutions

    European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, EBRD
    The bank finances projects in three country groups (Central Europe; Russia and Central Asia; Southern and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus) and three s
    ectors: Financial Institutions; Infrastructure; and Industry and Commerce. The infrastructure group of projects contains four issues: Municipal and environmental infrastructure; Transport; Power and energy utilities; and Energy efficiency. The EBRD is directed by its Agreement to "promote in the full range of its activities environmentally sound and sustainable development", thereby being the first international financial institution to have been given such a proactive environmental mandate by its founders.

    European Investment Bank, EIB
    The European Union's financing and long-term lending institution. The EIB is mandated to conduct operations in: the Central and Eastern European Countries and certain Mediterranean Countries which have applied for membership of the EU; the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Countries; the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), South Africa and the OCT; Asia and Latin America; the Western Balkans. Within the European Union, projects considered for EIB financing must contribute to a number of set objectives, including the preservation of the natural and urban environment. Outside the Union, the Bank participates in implementing the Union's development aid and cooperation policies through long-term loans from own resources or subordinated loans and risk capital from EU or Member States' budgetary funds.

    Nordic Environment Finance Corporation, NEFCO
    NEFCO is a risk capital institution financing environmental projects in Central and Eastern Europe. Established in 1990 by the five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), its purpose is to facilitate the implementation of environmentally beneficial projects in the neighbouring region, with transboundary effects which also benefit the Nordic region. Projects should be financially viable and, in the first instance, based on cooperation between local and Nordic enterprises. NEFCO is working with four major project categories: 1) Modernization of industrial and energy production processes; investments in single production plants. 2) Production of equipment for pollution abatement, metering, improved energy efficiency etc.; projects establishing or investing in enterprises for such production. 3) Environmental services such as waste management, recycling, water and waste water treatment (in public-private cooperation); corporatised service enterprises. 4) Planning and consulting services; consulting and engineering firms. See NEFCO's project portfolio and environmental guidelines.

    Nordic Investment Bank, NIB
    The Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) is the joint international financial institution of the Nordic countries. NIB can help to finance projects both within and outside the Nordic area. The Baltic Sea and Barent Sea regions are priority areas for the bank's operations. NIB acts as a catalyst for Nordic industrial co-operation by financing new investments, infrastructure projects and structural improvements, particularly cross-border investments. NIB participates in the financing of environmental improvement investments in the Nordic countries and in the Baltic Sea and Barent Sea regions. See information on the bank's environmental procedures.


    Action programmes, strategies and research

    Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region (Baltic 21)
    An initiative and process to develop and implement a regional Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region in order to attain sustainable development in the region. It is a joint, long-term effort by the eleven countries of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). The emphasis is on regional co-operation, and the work is focused on seven sectors (agriculture, energy, fisheries, forestry, industry, tourism, transport) of crucial importance to the Baltic Sea Region, and on spatial planning. The process to attain sustainable development in the Baltic Sea Region encompasses economic, social and environmental aspects. Long-term aspects; regional co-operation; sectoral responsibility; and openness, democracy and transparency, are the pillars of the process, which is to complement other international, national and local initiatives in the Baltic Sea Region.

    CBSS Action Programme
    In 1996, the CBSS adopted its Action Programme as an additional guideline for CBSS activities. It comprises the following fields:
    Participation and Stable Political Development; Economic Integration and Prosperity; A Matter of Solidarity - the Baltic Sea Environment.

    UNEP Regional Seas Programme
    The Regional Seas Programme was initiated in 1974 as a global programme implemented through regional components. The Regional Seas Programme is UNEP's main framework in the field of the coastal and marine environment. It includes 14 regions and three partner sea areas (the Baltic, the North-east Atlantic, and the Arctic), involves more than 140 coastal states, and focuses on sustainable development of coastal and marine areas. Each regional action plan is formulated according to the needs and priorities of the region as perceived by the Governments concerned. Regional conventions are in place for several areas. See a map of all regional seas, and go to more information on the Black Sea, Wider Caribbean, Mediterranean, East Asian Seas, South Asian Seas, Eastern Africa, Kuwait Region, North West Pacific, Red Sea And Gulf of Aden, South East Pacific, North East Pacific, South Pacific, Upper South West Atlantic, and West and Central Africa. The UNEP Regional Seas web site also contains information on What's at stake, Major threats, and Actions.


    BALTEX, Baltic Sea Experiment
    Web site of BALTEX (information also offered here). BALTEX is a regional project within GEWEX (Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment), which is part of the WMO World Climate Research Programme. On the BALTEX site, information is provided on the structure of BALTEX, on projects, BALTEX data (including boundaries of each sub-basin drainage area), science plan, documents, meeting calendar, etc. Here you also find the BALTEX Newsletter.

    BASYS, Baltic Sea System Studies
    BASYS is a major, three-year international, interdisciplinary marine research project funded by the EU MAST programme and co-ordinated by the Baltic Sea Research Institute in Warnemuende. The objective is to improve the understanding of the susceptibility of the Baltic Sea to external impact, and to improve the quantificiation of past and present fluxes of natural and anthropogenic substances.

    Baltic Marine Biologists, BMB
    A non-governmental organization with a membership of marine scientists with an interest in the Baltic Sea. Main objectives of BMB are to further scientific marine biological research in the Baltic and to facilitate contacts between Baltic marine biologists.

    Map BSR Project, National Land Survey of Finland
    A project within the framework of VASAB 2010 with the general purpose of providing basic map data sets for the Baltic Sea Region in the scale of 1:million. The elements included in the database are boundaries, hydrography, transport, settlements, geographical names, elevation, nature and land use. The Mapping Authorities of the 14 countries in the region participate, under co-ordination of the National Land Survey of Finland. "The Map BSR Project will provide the first uniform, reliable map data sets for the Baltic Sea drainage area and the countries within its sphere of influence. When completed, the database will form a base map for geographic information systems (GIS), in which any kind of data item can be located and represented, as long as the coordinates are known.

    Baltic Environment Database, Stockholm University and other institutions

    The hydrographical and chemical conditions of the Baltic Sea are monitored throughout the Baltic Sea, month by month. This site, provided by the Marine Ecosystem Modelling Group at Stockholm University, offers comprehensive maps that synthesize all the information gathered on oxygen conditions, and on levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and silicate.

    Finnish Institute of Marine Research, FIMR
    FIMR is a governmental research organization that serves local and national authorities, industry, the economy, and private citizens. FIMR carries out research and information work in the fields of biological, chemical and physical oceanograpy, mainly in the Baltic. See, for example, the Baltic Sea Alg@line, with current information on Baltic Sea phytoplankton (algae). Information also on BASIS, the Baltic Air-Sea-Ice Study and on other current research projects.

    Integrated Coastal Zone Management, European Union DG Environment
    In 1996, the European Commission set up a demonstration programme to identify appropriate measures to remedy the deterioration of conditions in coastal zones. From 1996 to 1999, experts and scientists of various coastal regions of the European Union endeavoured to demonstrate the conditions necessary for successful integrated coastal zone management. The final conclusions and recommendations for a European Strategy for ICZM are presently in preparation.

    Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SMHI

    See for example the new Baltic HOME Expert System, "a supportive system designed for people who need to make decisions on environmental questions in the Baltic Sea Region", and the Swedish ocean archive — SHARK — data bank. Here you will also find the BALTEX Hydrological Data Centre, and links to other BALTEX data centres in Finland and Germany. SMHI also provides information on other oceanographic research programmes in the Baltic Sea, including BASIS (Baltic Air-Sea-Ice Study).

    State of the regional environment

    Third Periodic Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment in the Baltic Sea Published by HELCOM in 1996, available on the BalticSeaWeb. Covers the period 1989-1993. The Fourth Assessment, covering the period 1994-1998. will be published in 2001. The Periodic Assessments are made regularly within the HELCOM framework. The state of the Baltic Sea is assessed in about 5-year intervals. Hundreds of experts from a multitude of disciplines participate in this assessment process. The outcome is a basically scientific background document covering most of the topics related to the state of the Baltic Sea. The respective situation, trends and tendencies are highlighted. The multidisciplinary approach attempts to secure a balanced view on the different problems. The assessments are understood to be a time limited consensus which has been reached between scientists participating in long-term studies.

    Status of fisheries and related environment of Northern Seas
    Report (pdf file) prepared for the Nordic Council of Ministers by ICES (February 2000). It discusses sustainability in fisheries, gives an overview of the marine environment, and gives scientific evaluation of all the commercial fish stocks where ICES has an advisory role.

    Baltic State of the Environment Report
    Environmental indicator-based report published in 1998, providing an overview of the state of the environment in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Gives a comparison between the three countries, and a comparison between them and other European countries. Compiled by Baltic Environmental Forum, BEF.

    Gulf of Riga Project
    A research project within the framework of the Nordic Environmental Research Programme (1993-1997) by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The project is believed to have produced the best available comprehensive ecosystem study to date on a specific area of the Baltic Sea region.

    Europe's Environment, the Second Assessment
    State of the European Environment report, published in 1998 by the European Environment Agency. On the EEA site you find information on environmental themes (issues, sectors and activities, media, regions/areas, and actions). It also offers various services, including State of the Environment Reporting Information System, SERIS, with State of the Environment Reports from Central and Eastern Europe, Newly Independent States North-East Mediterranean and Western Europe. EEA services also comprise Data Service (data used in EEA periodical reports); EEA Official Directory of Information Resources; EnviroWindows; and Sustainability Targets and Reference Database (STAR).

    GEO 2000 State of the Environment: Europe and Central Asia

    Global Enviroment Outlook 2000. GEO is:

    • a global environmental assessment process, the GEO Process, that is cross-sectoral and participatory. It incorporates regional views and perceptions, and builds consensus on priority issues and actions through dialogue among policy-makers and scientists at regional and global levels.
    • GEO outputs, in printed and electronic formats, including the GEO Report series. This series makes periodic reviews of the state of the world's environment, and provides guidance for decision-making processes such as the formulation of environmental policies, action planning and resource allocation. Other outputs include technical reports, a web site and a publication for young people.

    GEF Projects in the region

    Projects under implementation

    World Bank - GEF - International Waters:
    Rural Environmental Project Poland
    The global objective of the project is to improve the quality of the water of the Baltic Sea by decreasing non-point sources of nutrient pollution from agriculture. The JCP estimates that 30-40% of the nitrogen and 10% of the phosphorus entering the Sea come from agriculture, and the eutrophic conditions they cause represent the Baltic Sea's top priority transboundary water problem. The project will help Polish small farmers to adopt innovative waste management techniques and land use practices to reduce pollution releases. GEF funds will be used to buy down the cost of adopting these technical innovations in agricultural practices and waste management and help overcome barriers to moving from demonstration level activities to operations projects for agricultural non-point source pollution. Participating farmers will be expected to pay approximately one-third of the cost.

    Project concepts in the pipeline

    World Bank/UNDP - GEF - International Waters:
    Baltic Sea Regional Project
    The project will implement priority actions to address transboundary environmental concerns associated with sustainable production of biomass. Conservation of living marine resources and control of non-point sources of pollution from agriculture.


    Other actors and initiatives

    Baltic Marine Environment Bibliography
    Covers bibliographic information on the Baltic Sea, i.e., all marine areas from the Gulf of Finland in the east and the Gulf of Bothnia in the north, to the Belt Sea and Kattegat in the west. It contains references to reports including "grey literature", journal articles, books, conference proceedings, dissertations etc. The bibliography covers material from the year 1970, currently some 11,000 references. The Baltic Marine Environment Bibliography is produced under auspices of HELCOM from contributions prepared by the states around the Baltic Sea states.

    Coalition Clean Baltic, CCB
    See priority activities of this umbrella organization for environmental NGOs in the Baltic Sea Region.

    The Baltic Sea - a Large Marine Ecosystem (LME)
    A Large Marine Ecosystem, LME, is a "region of ocean space encompassing coastal areas from river basins and estuaries to the seaward boundary of continental shelves and the seaward margins of coastal current systems. It is a relatively large region characterized by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophically dependent populations." See also Rhode Island University map of LMEs.


    GIWA Subregional Task Team

    Name Address and contact Expertise
    Dr Eugeniusz Andrulewicz Sea Fisheries Institute,
    Department of Fisheries Oceanography and Marine Ecology,
    Ul. Kollataja 1
    Tel: +48 58 620 17 28
    Fax: +48 58 620 28 31
    Chemical pollution
    Dr. Ain Lääne ESTONIA
    Tel: +35 89 40 3000
    Direct Tel:
    Mobile: +372 50 19138
    Fax: +35 89 40 300 390
    Pollution load
    Dr. Anond Snidvongs Southeast Asia START Regional Center,
    Environmental Research Institute,
    Chulalongkorn University,
    Phayathai, Bangkok 10330
    Tel. (66 2) 218-8126-8
    Fax. (66 2) 255-4967
    Dr. Elmira Boikova Institute of Biology of Latvian Academy of Sciences,
    Laboratory of Marine Biology,
    Salaspils, Miera Street 3 LV- 2169
    Tel: +371 2945 418
    Fax: +371 2945 442
    Marine and Freshwater Biology
    Dr. Sverker Evans Swedish Environmental Protection Agency,
    S-106 48 Stockholm
    Tel: +46 8 6981 302
    Fax: +46 8 6981 585
    International Conventions
    Dr. Kaisa Kononen Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation,
    Fredrikinkatu 20B 16,
    FIN-00120 Helsinki,
    Tel: +358943425511
    Fax: +358943425555
    Dr. Tatiana Roskoshnaya Lab of Economy of Use of Nature,
    St Petersburg Research
    Centre for Ecological Security of RAS,
    St Petersburg,
    P.O.Box 148,
    195426 St- Petersburg,
    Tel +7 812 529 8194
    Fax +7 812 529 8194
    Environmental economy
    Dr. Galina Titova Lab of Economy of Use of Nature,
    St Petersburg Research
    Centre for Ecological Security of RAS,
    St Petersburg,
    P.O.Box 148,
    195426 St- Petersburg,
    Tel +7 812 4471087
    Fax +7 812 5298194
    Environmental economy
    Dr. Susanna Stymne University of Kalmar
    University of Kalmar
    Tel: +46 480 44 71 20
    Fax: +46 480 44 73 55
    Environmental economy
    Dr. Med. Astrid Saava University of Tarttu
    Tel: +372 7374 197
    Fax: +372 7374 192
    Public health
    Dr. Elina Rautalahti-Miettinen GIWA Co-ordination Office,
    SE-391 82 Kalmar,
    Tel +46 480 447356
    Fax: +46 480 44 73 55
    Mob: +46 70 544 6401
    Senior Coordinator Northern Hemisphere GIWA
    MSc. Edith Mussukuya GIWA Co-ordination Office,
    SE-391 82 Kalmar,
    Fax: +46 480 44 73 55
    Mob: +46 70 544 6048
    Co-ordinator Sub-Saharan Africa
    Dag Daler GIWA Co-ordination Office,
    SE-391 82 Kalmar,
    Tel +46 480 447351
    Fax: +46 480 44 73 55
    Mob: +46 70 544 6046
    GIWA Project Manager
    Linda Holm GIWA Co-ordination Office,
    SE-391 82 Kalmar,
    Tel: +46 480 44 73 52
    Fax: +46 480 44 73 55
    Project assistant

    Global International Waters Assessment, GIWA
    SE- 391 82 Kalmar, Sweden
    Phone: +46- 480 44 60 00. Fax: +46- 480 44 73 55.

    page last modified on 22 August 2006