Sea. Photo: Pekka Lankinen.

Helsinki and Turku intensify Baltic Sea protection

Helsinki and Turku continue to implement the Baltic Sea Challenge, their joint initiative launched 11 years ago, with a new 5-year term and an updated joint action plan. The cities will carry on their work for the benefit of their local waters and the entire Baltic Sea both in their own operations and through an extensive network of partners. 

The City Boards of both Helsinki and Turku have decided to continue the cities’ joint Baltic Sea programme in 2019–2023. The programme will extend many actions that have proved effective in reducing the cities’ nutrient loading to the sea and in encouraging the members of the Baltic Sea Challenge network to act to protect the sea. The Baltic Sea action plan also includes completely new actions to protect the sea. These actions include the use of biocoal, structure lime and gypsum to bind nutrients, avoidance of hazardous materials in procurement, various agile pilot projects, and new nature surveys of small water bodies and the archipelago. 

The Port of Turku will end its practice of disposing dredged materials to the sea by the end of 2024. Helsinki will ensure that the implementation of the City’s new maritime strategy will be carried out on the terms of the unique maritime environment’s nature. 

The Baltic Sea action plan contains close to 120 actions to improve the state of the cities’ local waters and the entire Baltic Sea. Helsinki and Turku will also invite new organizations to join the network and urge all current members of the Baltic Sea Challenge network to upgrade their actions and commitments to the new programme term. 

Extensive cooperation to be continued to protect the Baltic Sea

Helsinki and Turku have actively challenged other actors to take to voluntary action to protect their local waters and the Baltic Sea. By 2018, the Baltic Sea Challenge network has been joined by 270 organizations in Finland and other Baltic Sea countries. 

Turku Mayor Minna Arve and Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori support the work and define its main guidelines. According to the decisions now made, the City of Helsinki will extend its support for the donated professorship in the economics of Baltic Sea protection at the University of Helsinki. The City of Turku will continue to support a fund for the protection of the Archipelago Sea. 

“Cities must serve as pioneers, also in efforts to protect the seas. Helsinki’s new maritime strategy and ambitious climate goals support the Baltic Sea action plan. Cities must also set an example in bringing diverse actors together to promote important goals. Helsinki wants to challenge citizens, businesses and the research community to work together for a cleaner Baltic Sea,” mayor Vapaavuori says.  

“Over more than a decade, we have implemented dozens of concrete actions to reduce the loading of Helsinki and Turku to the sea. Our partners in the Baltic Sea Challenge have carried out hundreds of actions for the good of their local waters and the entire Baltic Sea. We have also implemented several international projects to improve water protection. We will now launch novel corporate cooperation and, more than before, we will engage citizens and encourage them to act,” says Mayor Arve. 

The first Baltic Sea Challenge and the cities’ first joint Baltic Sea action plan were launched in 2007 at the initiative of the mayors of Helsinki and Turku. 

Read more: 

Baltic Sea Challenge

Helsinki and Turku Baltic Sea action plan (in Finnish)