As the snow falls and Christmas is getting close, the Baltic Sea work continues and develops continuously.
In the wake of the first anniversary of the Baltic Sea Action Summit, please let us give you a short update on the activities of BSAG.
First, how are the Commitments progressing?
The BSAS trio has done a first preliminary analysis of the progress and we can report that approx. Some 80% of the Commitments progress well. Ca 10% has been finished, some are delayed and some are waiting for suitable partners or financers.
Then, what have we been doing?
In July 2010, BSAG participated in the first World Ecological Forum, in Visby, Gotland in Sweden. We delivered a keynote speech and arranged the Baltic Sea environmental work shop. The Forum was a novel arena and gathered people from near and far, e.g. China and the US.
In July, the President of Finland Tarja Halonen and BSAG participated in the festivities of launching the replica sailing ship “Ihana” and a large panel discussion on issues of safety of navigation in Luvia on the Finnish west coast.
In August, BSAG:s Secretary General Saara Kankaanrinta left on maternity leave and Mathias Bergman, Ph.D., was appointed to her position. A little later, Saara gave birth to a little boy; our warmest congratulations!
In early September, BSAG took part in the Baltic Sea section of the Stockholm Water Week. Also in September, BSAG was a co-organiser of Kemira´s waste water treatment seminar in Riga, Latvia. The seminar was aimed to those in charge of municipal waste water solutions. Many new ideas were dealt with and new connections were created; all for the benefit of the Baltic Sea, the citizens and commercial operations.
In late September, BSAG arranged BaseCamp 2010. This event took place in the Military Head Quarters in Helsinki, kindly hosted by the President of Finland and the Chief-of-Defence, General Ari Puheloinen. The aim of the event was to inspire and assist companies to make Commitments and connections. As professional event-experts Dazzle and Kestävä secured that everything proceeded smoothly. More than 100 persons from 40 companies participated and seven new Commitments were created (not all approved yet).
In early autumn, Maria Jokela from the Institute of Foreign Policy in Finland (UPI) published an analysis of the activity model of BSAG and of the Baltic Sea Action Summit Process. Highly interesting and uplifting reading, giving a quite realistic view of the pros and cons of such large cross border endeavors.
In October, President Tarja Halonen visited a Clinton Global Initiative event hosted by President Clinton in New York. She presented the Baltic Sea Action Summit process as a model for fruitful international collaboration.
In October, the European Union arranged the first follow-up meeting on the implementation of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy in Tallinn. Among approx. 600 other participants, Finland´s Ambassador for Baltic Sea Issues, TimoRajakangas and BSAG´s Secretary General took part in this very lively and active event.
In November Gard Baltic arranged a highly interesting seminar on maritime safety and oil spill prevention as fulfillment of their Commitment. The scope was the view of insurance but also an eye witness report from the oil well catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico was delivered.
This chain of different events forms the structure and milestones of the BSAS process and keeps the Baltic Sea work alive. At the same time, we all at the BSAG office in Helsinki work on developing new project possibilities, partnerships and connections. And of course, we use quite a lot of time and effort on guiding the Commitment givers in their efforts and on reminding them to update their Commitments. The basis of the Commitments is a) that they are public; and b) that the Commitment givers are responsible for keeping them up to date by filling in achieved milestones.
In that spirit, BSAG has recently asked all Commitment givers to update their Commitments, and modify it when necessary.
During the past half year, BSAG has also trimmed and optimized the process by which new Commitments are approved. This procedure runs smoothly and reliably.
Via our contacts to all Commitment givers we have a good view of the field; the other important contact we foster is that of the states. This work requires its special procedures, of course, and it has been very constructive so far.
To complete our cooperation model, a huge number of experts, authorities and NGOs have been involved in all our efforts – without them BSAG would not be able to steer ideas and projects in the desired direction.
In the agriculture JÄRKI project, run jointly with Luonnon- ja riistanhoitosäätiö, Project Manager Eija Hagelberg has had an extremely busy autumn. A number of practical events and tests on farms in Southwestern Finland have been successfully completed. Such practical projects pave the way for healthier practices and agri-politics.
By December 2010, we have 159 Commitments describing different means to save the Baltic Sea. Among the latest Commitments, we can mention two Commitments by the Finnish Defence Forces, a test set-up for a novel ballast water treating system for ships by Auramarine Oy, and “Let´s live green” by Latvian Greenwalk SIA, concerning household guidance for a sustainable and clean life style.
We also have some “administrative” news:
Our chemistry specialist Marja Koljonen was appointed Director of the Hazardous Substance Program in August. The Program was further strengthened by engaging Risto Jaatinen as project manager in this field.
Since August, Linda Lindfors is BSAG´s Communications Manager; through a job rotation agreement with Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) – an elegant solution!
To strengthen the EU project Baltic Compass, Helena Rosenlew was engaged to assist in communications. Baltic Compass got further new angles and possibilities as the project´s Communications Manager Paula Biveson moved to Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI) in Sweden in December.
Part of our job is performed by highly skillful and motivated persons that wish to make a difference: at this stage Mikael Aminoff, Markku Dahl and Martti Niska are driving our common efforts out there on the field. BSAG also continuously receives highly attractive offers from willing persons – we strive to engage them as suitable tasks appear.
As mentioned at the beginning of this Christmas tale, the BSAS trio is gearing up for the first anniversary of the Baltic Sea Action Summit. At the heart of all our activities is provision of opportunities for all parties, states, NGOs, companies and individuals alike, to participate in the great process to save our sea. And to provide opportunities to show and report their progress. In that working spirit the anniversary will be celebrated. – More on that theme later, and via other channels.
We want to thank all those organizations that decided to send Christmas cards as financial support for our common efforts – a good practice well taken!
On this note, we all at BSAG wish you A Merry Christmas and A Peaceful New Year!