What is this project all about?
The Baltic Sea is one of the most polluted brackish water bodies in the world. Its most serious threat is eutrophication, caused by high nutrient loads both from point and diffuse sources, originating from the vast catchment area.
International to local
International treaties and national and intergovernmental legislation have not been powerful enough to bring about a considerable improvement in the state of the sea. Global climate change will presumably add to the challenge by increasing extreme weather conditions, agricultural loading and the risk of flooding in cities thus resulting in even heavier nutrient loads to the sea. This further highlights the need of concrete actions to decrease the negative influences on the sea.
Cities, municipalities and other local actors in the catchment area have a major influence on the sea through their activities, e.g. traffic and waste water discharges. On the hand, a healthy sea provides these actors with numerous ecosystem services, including a recreational value and improved opportunities to tourism and business. Thereby the poor state of coastal waters is an issue of competitiveness and attractiveness, thus it is important to realize the cities' and municipalities’ role in it as well as concrete possibilities to improve it.
Improving the state of the sea
The overall objective of the project is to improve the state of the coastal waters and the entire Baltic Sea by encouraging municipalities and cities to carry out water protection measures on a voluntary basis, e.g. actions not required by the law. Our immediate objective is to make partners more aware of challenges and opportunities of how to influence the environmental state of the Baltic Sea.
Inviting others to join
The project will also actively invite other cities, municipalities and organisations to take part in improving the state of the sea and strengthen their commitment through preparation of concrete action plans. We aim to provide local actors with tools to introduce water protection aspects to their every-day functions, administration and decision-making processes. In addition, the project will develop high quality investment plans based on local needs, and a functioning model to continue the work after the project period has ended.
An important part of the project is to increase awareness of the state of the sea among civil servants, decision makers and citizens in all project countries. Special attention will be paid to the youth, the future decision makers. One aspect is to emphasize the connection between the state of the sea and competitiveness of the city and, on the other hand, the impact of the city administration on the sea. Awareness raising will also highlight the choices and practical solutions available to local actors. The employees of the cities and municipalities will have more knowledge, information channels and monitoring and planning tools that they will actively use. In the future decision making, the Baltic Sea will be better taken into account.
Promoting interdisciplinary dialogue
Beyond cities and municipalities, decision makers and private citizens, the project aims to activate NGO's, research institutes and media to take part in saving of the sea. We want to promote the dialogue among civil servants, researchers, politicians and other actors.
Cities for a Healthier Sea project was launched to promote the Baltic Sea Challenge campaign, initiated in Finland in 2007, in the Baltic Sea countries.
Find out more about the Baltic Sea
Take a closer view on our material on the Baltic Sea and the role of local actors. Find more information about the state of the sea at the Baltic Sea Challenge website and at the Baltic Sea Portal. You can also take a look at what a private citizen can do.