The countries around the Baltic Sea have not yet developed the systems and institutions that are needed to deal with the complex problems of the Baltic Sea. This was revealed today when WWF released this year’s Baltic Sea Scorecard at its seminar held as a part of the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm.
The 2009 Baltic Sea Scorecard examines how countries around the region are currently planning and managing the Baltic Sea and its resources and if they are taking the much-needed steps to move towards a more holistic, integrated and ecosystem-based approach.
“The report shows that the approach to managing the sea varies widely from country to country – and could be described as a bit of a ‘patch work approach’”, says Åsa Andersson, Programme Director, Swedish Nature and Baltic Sea Programme, WWF-Sweden.
No country scored the top grade, and only Germany received a B, as it is ahead of the other countries in actually planning for the use of its sea waters. Germany is followed by a group of four countries that all received a C: Denmark, Finland, Poland and Sweden. These countries are all in early stages of developing a more integrated approach to sea use management. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia all received a grade of D because of a lack of evidence of any real results towards an integrated sea use management.
“The Baltic Sea is still one of the most threatened seas in the world. Part of the problem facing the Baltic Sea is the ‘free-for-all’ mentality that still governs our use of the sea”, says Pauli Merriman, Programme Director, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. “If we are to succeed in saving our common sea for the future, we desperately need to work across countries, sectors and departments to achieve a more integrated sea use management – a holistic perspective where all sectors are involved and where all countries in the region work jointly together.”
“From an ecosystem perspective, such a relatively small sea like the Baltic cannot be treated as simply a collection of national marine areas. It constitutes, in almost all respects, one single marine ecosystem and should be managed as a whole” says, Åsa Andersson.
To show that there are signs of hope and to celebrate an important step forward, H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden presented the Foreign Minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, with this year’s WWF Baltic Sea Leadership Award. Stubb receives the award for taking the initiative within the European Parliament to champion the need for, and benefits of, a comprehensive strategy to address the challenges and opportunities of the Baltic Sea. This initiative resulted in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region which has the potential to address the underlying problems of regional coordination and ongoing management of the Baltic Sea.
“We recognize Alexander Stubb’s leadership as a tireless champion and advocate for realizing the potential of this Strategy to truly make a difference for the Baltic Sea”, says Lasse Gustavsson, CEO, WWF Sweden.
The 2009 Baltic Sea Scorecard
For the third consecutive year, WWF and its partner organizations around the Baltic Sea have prepared a scorecard to assess how well the nine nations bordering the Baltic Sea are managing to protect and restore this fragile ecosystem to health. While the 2007 Scorecard centered on countries’ efforts to ratify and implement existing international agreements and conventions to manage and protect the Baltic Sea; and last year’s Scorecard focused more on assessing whether the concrete actions, necessary to achieve good environmental status for the Baltic Sea, actually had been accomplished; this year’s scorecard takes a more holistic perspective – focusing on an evaluation of countries overall approach to planning and managing the Baltic Sea. The reason for this focus is that after analyzing the poor results of the last two years, it is clear that, without an integrated approach to sea use management, countries are simply too poorly equipped to adequately address the complex challenges facing the Baltic Sea.
The Baltic Sea Festival
The intention of the sixth Baltic Sea Festival is to bring together people of the Baltic Sea region with an interest in classical music, environment, and the concept of leadership. The Festival takes place between the 28th of August and the 3rd of September in Stockholm. More information on the Festival can be found at: http://www.sr.se/berwaldhallen/
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region
The Baltic Sea Strategy has been developed to meet the need for a more integrated, way of working together – across countries and policy areas – in order to secure a sustainable environment and optimal economic and social development, while making better use of the resources. The Strategy aims at coordinating action by Member States, regions, the EU, pan-Baltic organisations, financing institutions and non-governmental bodies to promote a more balanced development of the Region It is the first time that a comprehensive strategy, covering several European Community policies, is targeted on a ‘macro-region’.
Integrated Sea Use Management
Integrated Sea Use Management is an ecosystem-based approach to sea use management where a healthy ecosystem is seen as the basis of all human activity in and around the sea. It involves the development of coherent marine spatial plans covering local, national and international levels of the Baltic Sea where the plans involve all sectors and all possible current and future uses of the sea and its resources. In Integrated Sea Use Management, environmental policies are integrated with (and have influence on) other relevant policies such as agricultural, maritime and fisheries policies. It also strives to involve all relevant stakeholders in both the planning and the management of sea use.
Integrated Sea Use Management is currently being developed and tested in many parts of the world. Countries are beginning to move forward and are implementing Integrated Sea Use Management including marine spatial planning in some of their sea areas. There are currently many processes ongoing at the European and national levels that provides a window of opportunity for the Baltic Sea Region to take the lead and be the first region in the world to fully implement a multinational Integrated Sea Use Management of an entire sea.