Concern over the Baltic Sea has set actors in motion
The international Baltic Sea Action Summit will gather together heads of state or government from the Baltic Sea region, business leaders, representatives of foundations and other actors to meet in Helsinki on 10 February. “We must act now, for soon it may be too late,” says Jari Luoto, Ambassador for Baltic Sea Issues at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Luoto knows that cooperation is necessary to rescue the Baltic Sea. “It is important that separate projects support the same goals,” he emphasises.
“The goal of the summit is to bring heads of state or government, business leaders, NGOs and other actors together to work on behalf of the Baltic Sea,” Luoto explains. Luoto sees the creation of cooperation between actors as added value for the summit. Another asset is that the summit will encourage states to step up their protection efforts.
The summit is being held at the joint initiative of President of the Republic Tarja Halonen, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and the Baltic Sea Action Group. According to Luoto, the summit will focus on concrete action. “All participants at the summit will make a commitment benefiting the Baltic Sea,” Luoto states.
So far more than 130 commitments have been received, and the commitments of states will be made public during the summit itself. “Monitoring of the commitments will continue after the summit,” Luoto assures.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is handling arrangements for the summit. “The summit and preparation for the collection of commitments are also a new, visible way for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to work on behalf of the Baltic Sea,” Luoto continues.
EU Baltic Sea Strategy off to a good start
Luoto is concerned about the state of the Baltic Sea. He considers eutrophication and the increased risks associated with sea traffic to be the greatest problems. “Sea traffic on the Baltic Sea is increasing rapidly, including the transport of petroleum. The marine environment is vulnerable and cannot withstand a serious accident.”
“We should find ways of reducing the nutrient load of agriculture. We must act now, for soon it may be too late,” Luoto states.
There are glimmers of hope. “The Baltic Sea Strategy of the European Union has got off to a good start,” Luoto says. “Measures and projects have already been launched.”
The strategy has 15 fields of priority, divided among Member States for coordination. “Finland coordinates four fields of priority together with other states,” Luoto explains.
“Finland’s Ministry of the Environment and the Polish Ministry of the Environment together are responsible for measures to counter eutrophication. The Ministry of Transport and Communications, in turn, is responsible for the safety of marine traffic together with Denmark, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is responsible for sustainable agriculture, forestry and fishing together with Sweden. In addition, the Ministry of the Interior answers for internal security,” Luoto states.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has the role of consolidating Baltic Sea work. “The Ambassador for Baltic Sea Issues has information about what is happening in Baltic Sea work in Finland, other states of the Baltic Sea region and in the European Commission. ”
According to Luoto, the work done by the Ambassador for Baltic Sea Issues requires extensive networking and services for the media. “The various actors have been pleased that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has an Ambassador for Baltic Sea Issues who they can contact.”
- Further information and a webcast of the summit is available on the Baltic Sea Action Summit website.
- Baltic Sea cooperation in the administration of foreign affairs
- News on the Baltic Sea on the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs