News|23 Sep, 2020

New initiative from WWF to save the Baltic Sea from eutrophication

Baltic Cow
A cow (Bos taurus) resting in the beautiful Gryt archipelago, Sweden.

On the 14 September, WWF launched the Baltic Stewardship Initiative – an international network that aims for the food value chain’s players to increase circulation and minimize the leakage of plant nutrients through sustainable and profitable methods. The aim is to reduce eutrophication in watercourses, lakes and the Baltic Sea. Behind the initiative are WWF, Lantmännen and LRF with funding from the Swedish Broad of Agriculture.

According to a new report, which has been released in conjunction with the launch of the network, the food chain in the Baltic Sea region is too linear and far from leak-free. Efficiency in the food value chain varies greatly between countries, overall a large proportion of the plant nutrients that goes into the food system is not used optimally.

“Today, the food industry contributes greatly to eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. With the Baltic Stewardship Initiative, together with farmers, food producers and trade, we want to find solutions that are not only environmentally sustainable but also economically viable. In this way, the industry can be developed at the same time as it contributes to the goal of a living Baltic Sea”, says Håkan Wirtén, General Secretary of WWF.

The companies and organisations that join the network, in addition to actively working with the initiative’s issues in their own operations, together will take the lead to establish a more Baltic Sea-friendly and circular agricultural and food industry.

We want to strengthen the sustainability work in the food chain all the way from farm to fork. A more circular and economically competitive model for supplying crops with plant nutrients is central to the development of future food production and agriculture, says Claes Johansson, head of sustainability and Lantmännen.

Members will both spread solutions that work but also take new approaches to their work. Since the entire food chain is involved, the hope is to create new business opportunities and ways of collaborating in the industry.

About twenty stakeholders representing different parts of the food chain have joined the Baltic Stewardship Initiative, including Coop and Ågårds Lantbruk.

The report “Potential for Circularity in the Agri-food system” has been produced by Metabolic on behalf of WWF Sweden. The report maps the nutrient flows in the Baltic Sea region and the largest sources of emissions. Download the report here.

Additional information:

Eutrophication is one of the Baltic Sea’s biggest challenges and agriculture is the biggest source of emissions. Much has been done by the countries around the Baltic Sea to reduce the load, and since the 1980s the supply of nitrogen and phosphorus has almost halved. Despite this, 97% of the Baltic Sea area is still affected by eutrophication. Extreme algal blooms that lead to oxygen deficiency and dead-zones are some of the main problems caused by eutrophication. According to HELCOM, emissions of nitrogen must be reduced by a further 7% and of phosphorus by 44% compared to 2015 levels for Baltic Sea to regain an ecosystem with good ecological status.

For more information, contact:

Kristina Atkisson, Programme Manager for the Baltic Stewardship Initiative at WWF Sweden, 073 – 534 53 37, kristina.atkisson@wwf.se

Erika Reje, press secretary at WWF Sweden, 0765-454000, erika.reje@wwf.se

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Last modified 23/10/20

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