The history of Baltic Sea Action Group in short

The Baltic Sea Action Group, BSAG, is an independent non-profit foundation based in Finland. The official name of the Baltic Sea Action Group is the Foundation for a Living Baltic Sea and it was established by Ilkka Herlin, Saara Kankaanrinta and Anna Kotsalo-Mustonen in 2008.

The trio had already worked together in 2007 on the St. Petersburg Wastewater Treatment Project for John Nurminen Foundation. Once the project was progressing smoothly, Herlin, Kankaanrinta and Kotsalo-Mustonen decided to continue working for a cleaner Baltic with a new and different approach.

Their idea was to broaden the work over a wider front and more efficiently too. This required a new way of thinking, since carrying out a traditional, individual project takes too much time. Efforts must be spread simultaneously over all problem areas. BSAG does not necessarily carry out the projects, but acts as a catalyst for a variety of projects.

BSAG’s aim is to bring together all parties needed to save the Baltic Sea, including the highest political level, public authorities, and the private sector. BSAG uses public Commitments as a tool to get the innovative skills and resources of the business life involved.

Baltic Sea Action Summit

To bring the Baltic Sea issues to the highest political agenda in all the Baltic Sea countries, BSAG together with the President of Finland Tarja Halonen and the Prime Minister of Finland Matti Vanhanen organized a first a Baltic Sea Action Summit February 10th, 2010 in Helsinki.

The Summit was not a conventional on-off meeting, but instead part of a process with the purpose of combining actors from the public, private and third sector, and their resources. A ticket to participate was a concrete Commitment to action for the Baltic Sea

At the high-level Summit, heads of state from Baltic Sea countries together with people representing companies and non-governmental organizations presented over 140 voluntary, public commitments to solve the problems of the Baltic Sea.

The next summit was organized in St. Petersburg in 2013. Commitments are continuously monitored and new ones are being created.

Nutrient recycling for a healthier Baltic Sea

In 2012 nutrient cycling became an important viewpoint for BSAG to solve the problems of the Baltic Sea. Phosphorus and nitrogen, the nutrients crucial for living organisms, leak to the Baltic Sea to feed the algae, instead of being available for plant growth for food production in the fields. By recycling the nutrients, we can simultaneously save valuable resources and enhance the state of the Baltic Sea.

Since 2012 BSAG has created a Nutrient Recycling Business Ecosystem, and provided expertise to dozens of companies and organizations and decisions makers. Today the Finnish government has integrated nutrient recycling to the government programme and nutrient cycling has an important role in the EU Circular Economy strategy.

Climate, soil and the Baltic Sea

The experience gathered from co-operation with farmers and agricultural field to minimize the nutrient emissions from the fields to water bodies, has now brought BSAG to work with soil health and climate change mitigation. Agricultural practices that restore soil health, minimize the nutrient emissions from the fields to water bodies and at the same time mitigate climate change by storing carbon to soil.  Climate change also amplifies eutrophication and adds to the problems of the Baltic Sea.

This is why BSAG has initiated Carbon Action pilot project together with the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Finnish innovation fund Sitra. The project aims to find ways to speed up the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere into agricultural soil, to verify the soil-carbon sequestration scientifically, and to make climate smart farming practices widespread in Finland.