The governments around the Baltic Sea are not doing what they have promised to do to save the sea. The shortcomings are exposed in a report released today by the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. Even if some countries are worse than others, all governments are far behind in their implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), a regional agreement that was signed in November 2007.
In the report, each country is given scores according to how well they have implemented the plan. Even Finland, which is the country with the best score, is behind schedule on 14 of the 56 promised actions that were evaluated.
On 3 October, Environment Ministers will meet in Copenhagen to evaluate progress on the BSAP. If nothing drastic happens between now and October, there will be very little progress to evaluate. WWF fears that governments will try to hide their failures behind grand proclamations with little details or concrete actions.
“It’s time to be open about the problems and shortcomings in the implementation of the BSAP”, says Pauli Merriman, Programme Director at the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. “We urge ministers to take the opportunity at the October Ministerial to discuss frankly what is needed to put this plan back on track. The time for empty statements and proclamations is over – it is time for action. Countries must agree how they will cooperate in order to honour their commitments.”
A major problem highlighted in the assessment is the low quality of the reporting. All countries are obliged to report to each other on how they are doing in implementing the Baltic Sea Action Plan. WWF found that much of the reporting is either late or incomplete or even non-existent.
“Countries must report their progress or lack of progress in an honest and timely fashion”, says Pauli Merriman. “Ministers need to know what is done and what is not in order to provide support for decisions as well as swift responses where progress is lacking. As a shared plan with nine countries, clear and transparent reporting is critical in order to promote cooperation and joint efforts to reach the agreed targets and objectives.”
A recent report from the BalticSTERN Institute concludes that on average, the people living in countries around the Baltic Sea are willing to pay 3,800 million Euros annually for a healthier marine ecosystem. The same study estimates that the cost of reaching the B SAP targets amounts to somewhere between 2,300 and 2,800 million Euros annually. Thus, implementing the BSAP would result in a net gain of 1, 000 – 1, 500 million Euros per year.
“It’s time to realize the economic potential of a healthy Baltic Sea”, says Ottilia Thoreson, Programme Manager of the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. “To avoid or defer investments to protect and restore the Baltic Sea is not a responsible course of action. Nor is this an action those of us living around the sea can accept. The later we act, the more expensive it will be.”
The governments around the Baltic Sea launched the Baltic Sea Action Plan as “an ambitious programme to restore the good ecological status of the Baltic marine environment by 2021”. The plan was designed to address all the major environmental problems affecting the Baltic marine environment.
For more information, please contact:
Ottilia Thoreson, Programme Manager, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
Email. firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +46 8 624 7415
Weblink to the BSAP: http://www.helcom.fi/BSAP/en_GB/intro/
Weblink to the BalticSTERN report: http://www.stockholmresilience.org/21/research/research-programmes/balticstern/news/balticstern-news/3-14-2013-save-the-baltic-sea-and-gain-1-500-million-euros-per-year.html