Baltic-wide actions needed to reach SDG targets

Today, high-level representatives of the HELCOM Contracting Parties will meet in Helsinki to discuss regional Baltic Sea contribution to conservation and sustainable use of the seas and marine resources by 2030. Actions related to eutrophication, marine litter and climate change will be given special focus in the discussion.

On behalf of environmentally concerned citizens of the Baltic Sea catchment, the NGO network Coalition Clean Baltic asks the Ministers and Baltic region governments to keep their focus and address the urgent needs of the Baltic Sea in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. Global goals are needed but it must start with regional sea actions to save the Baltic Sea from further deterioration. To set aside the already agreed goals is not acceptable and doing so may risk losing public support.

– The public expects that the big words and set goals matter and wants to see results not excuses, says Mikhail Durkin, CCB Executive secretary.

The 2018 HELCOM Ministerial Meeting will demonstrate whether the countries are serious that “protection and enhancement of the marine environment of the Baltic Sea Area are tasks that cannot effectively be accomplished by national efforts alone” as recognised by 1992 Helsinki Convention.

– We have only a few years left before the original Baltic Sea Action Plan deadline in 2021, HELCOM Contracting Parties should strongly focus and not shifting the deadline towards 2030, relying on SDG process to solve all the Baltic problems.  Mikhail Durkin CCB Executive secretary

The CCB considers the below points crucial to comment.

Eutrophication:

  • it is vital that the upcoming EU CAP reform process better address nutrient efficiency and nutrient recycling in agricultural systems
  • it is not acceptable that one Contracting Party is still blocking joint process of national commitments to reduce nutrient inputs that is set on best available national data and scientific knowledge!

Hazardous substances:

  • leading countries in the BSR pursuing domestic bans of microbeads use in cosmetics should first make the regional efforts and then have the courage and propose concerted global action
  • pharmaceutical residues problem should be addressed in a more comprehensive way, focusing on both source reduction through public awareness and efficient safe disposal systems, as well as end-of-pipe measures for sewage and sludge by its tertiary treatment

Biodiversity and nature conservation:

  • on one hand we are witnessing designation of new offshore MPAs to protect critically endangered harbour porpoise and on the other – plans for large infrastructure projects threatening the existence of already established MPAs, as e.g. routing of Nord Stream II across Kurgalskiy Peninsula and Navigation Canal across Vistula Spit.

Maritime activities

  • Baltic ports should address other, earlier considered negligent sources of pollution, e.g. through development and implementation of BAT for ports facilities handling fertilisers to avoid losses of nutrients during loading operations

See more detailed information in CCB’s full statement.