Dear Friends of the Baltic Sea!
The first half of the year 2011 has been an active time for BSAG. Among other issues, we started the year with preparations for the Baltic Sea Action Summit Follow-up of the Commitments made a year earlier, we were actively involved in the Finnish parliamentary elections from the Baltic Sea point of view, and organized a well-received seminar with Shell about oil spill in ice.
One year after the Baltic Sea Action Summit, on 10 February 2011, it was time to report on how the Commitments have progressed so far. Our main focus was on the state Commitments.
Among others, the President of the Republic of Finland Tarja Halonen and Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi attended, and the Minister of Immigration and European Affairs Astrid Thors reported on the progress of the Commitment of Finland. Representatives of the other countries around the Baltic Sea also presented their Commitments’ progress.
The Commitments have progressed well. Of the more than 160 Commitments made, twelve percent are completed and over 70 percent are progressing. In addition to these, the states around the Baltic Sea reported that their Commitments are advancing. As its own Commitment, the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) made an analysis of the expected effects of all the Commitments. According to the analysis, presented at the Follow-up, the Commitments demonstrate that through well targeted actions, having solid scientific basis, significant results can be achieved in a rather short period of time.
The President of Finland Tarja Halonen brought further good news to the Baltic Sea at the Follow-up. She presented greetings from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that Russia will arrange the next Baltic Sea Action Summit, probably in 2012.
32 Baltic Sea MPs
The ”Virtual Baltic Sea Party”, VIMP (Virtuaalinen Itämeripuolue) was launched some three weeks before the parliamentary elections in mid-April. The aim was to gather candidates from all political parties that are willing to bring forward important Baltic Sea issues in the Finnish Parliament. The Virtual Baltic Sea Party was launched on Facebook, where the input for the government formation was discussed. Altogether 32 candidates were elected to the Parliament. All candidates are listed on http://www.bsag.fi/bsag/itameripuolue.php. They have all committed to give personal Commitments.
VIMP will keep its first summer conference on Thursday 7.7.2011 at the Baltic Sea Pavilion at Hernesaari in Helsinki. The pavilion forms the base for the Open European sailing championships. Everyone is welcome to participate!
From the Baltic Sea into space
BSAG and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes) are promoting space satellite services related to the environment, safety and transport in the Baltic Sea region. This task is performed in the Baltic Sea Region Ambassador Platform Program. Tekes represents Finland in the European Space Agency (ESA). Thanks to our expertise in environmental, safety and transport issues and our good contact network in the Baltic Sea region, Antti Jokinen from BSAG was selected the Baltic Sea Region Ambassador.
The Ambassador Platform is an entity that acts as an ambassador for ESA’s Integrated Applications Promotion for a particular region or theme. The aim of the IAP program is to provide innovative added value to services by combining various space assets, such as telecommunications, earth observation, navigation and human spaceflight technologies, with existing terrestrial assets.
BSAG met the King and the Crown Princess of Sweden
BSAG’s Chairman of the Board Ilkka Herlin and Secretary General Mathias Bergman met King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria at the Royal Court of Sweden in January 2011. The aim of the visit was to discuss how and when the King and the Crown Princess could take part in the work for a healthy Baltic Sea together with BSAG.
Oil Spill in ice – are we ready?
As its Commitment made at the Baltic Sea Action Summit in 2010, Royal Dutch Shell organized a seminar on the theme “Oil spill in ice” in Helsinki 7-8 June 2011. The aim of the seminar was to review the response capacity and organizations and the risks for a major oil spill in the Baltic Sea region. Some 70 participants from governments, academia, NGO’s, and the oil and gas industry attended this expert seminar.
The seminar reviewed current and future oil spill risks and scenarios in the ice-prone part of the Baltic Sea. State of the art oil spill in ice response (OSR) capabilities and country examples were presented. The seminar workgroups provided a practical follow-up to further advance capabilities in terms of oil spill in ice.
The participants concluded that to have any chance of combating a major oil spill in ice conditions, we must prepare for the worst, remove all types of cross-border obstacles and open the field for new technical solutions. After the main event, the participants were invited to inspect M/S Kontio, one of the largest ice-going oil combat vessels in service. http://www.oilspillinice.com (password: finland)
New Commitments during the spring
Among the new Commitments made during the spring, I would like to mention a co-commitment by SYKE, IBM and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. They have developed a smart phone application by which the public can monitor and report on the algae situation. The goal is to enable and encourage people to follow the marine environment. The application, called Levävahti, is easy to install and use in a smart phone. Levävahti is a pilot project and the experiences will be summarized by the end of the year 2011 and used in follow-up projects. http://www.bsag.fi/commitments/all-commitments/levaevahti-a-human-sensor-smart-phone-application-to-monitor-algae-situation-by-public
Raisio has launched the Closed Circuit Cultivation concept, which is a practical method to reduce negative environmental impacts of crop production. The aim is that the nutrient circuit in the food chain becomes as closed as it can be in biological processes. Experiences and knowledge in the development of the CCC is used in the calculation of the carbon and water foot print of consumer products.
Raisio also uses the concept in its’ advisory service for contract farmers. http://www.bsag.fi/commitments/all-commitments/closed-circuit-cultivation
The parent association at the day care centre Daghemmet Björnen, (Daghemmet Björnens föräldraförening rf), in Kirkkonummi, wanted to teach the children about the importance of the protection of the Baltic Sea. A program that lasted the spring term included several educational parts, among other tasks, the children explored the nature and had a look at plants and animals in their natural habitat, and studied water and learned about the importance of clean sea water and clean household water. At the end of the program a list was made of small concrete actions that the children can do by themselves or together with their parents.
The Commitment has raised a lot of interest among other day care centres and elementary schools and is free to be copied by anyone! http://www.bsag.fi/commitments/all-commitments/vaar-lilla-oestersjoe
New names – and old
The BSAG crew grows and develops constantly.
Päivi Piispa has started her work on manure biomass utilization under Marja Koljonen.
Samuli Tarvainen will start his work as project coordinator for our AMT (Action Management Tool) project and fund-raising in July, as Henna Auno starts her maternity leave in the beginning of August.
Anu Suono, who has been assistant trainee since the beginning of the year and continues as our assistant during the summer, will return to her studies in the autumn. Katriina Kytölä will take up Anu´s position as assistant in August.
Risto Jaatinen completes his tasks in our Hazardous Substances Program in July.
Our Communications Officer Linda Lindfors ends her job rotation from NIB in September and Pieta Jarva will continue Linda’s tasks as she returns from her maternity leave in August.
Saara Kankaanrinta will be back from her family leave in the beginning of November.
Carita Martin works on a voluntary basis with issues related to hazardous substances and Rebecka Eriksson will assist BSAG in Åland and in Sweden.
In between holidays, BSAG will take part in the Baltic Sea Pavilion (Itämeripaviljonki) at Hernesaarenranta arranged in connection to the Open Europeans in Helsinki. The Pavilion was opened Ilkka Herlin on 30 July. On 7 July we will organize a meeting with the VIMP-MPs. Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja and Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö will participate in a panel discussion starting at 18:00 at the Pavilion.
Finally, remember our Cannes and Houston-rewarded film and our animations about the challenges of the Baltic Sea. They are all available on our channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/balticseaactiongroup
Best wishes for a sunny summer,