BSPC President Jörgen Pettersson underlined at the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting on 6 March 2018 in Brussels that parliaments and parliamentary organizations around the Baltic Sea would continue to support the timely implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, but he also demanded an implementation on schedule by the governments. He additionally called for more regular HELCOM Ministerial Meetings, to bring the issues of a clean Baltic Sea more deeply into the political debate. The BSPC, he said, was supporting HELCOM as the coordinator of the regional implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 through strengthened implementation of the HELCOM BSAP. Jörgen Pettersson also had an intensive conversation with the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella.
In particular, he emphasised:
“Since the beginning of our cooperation, the 27 parliaments and parliamentary organizations of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) have actively supported the work of HELCOM and called on our governments to give HELCOM the political support it needs to execute the necessary measures.
“We do this because the people who elected us expect us to provide them with a clean and healthy Baltic Sea. The environment is similar to peace on earth. It’s the foundation of all human life.
“That is why it is so important to achieve the goals that we have set ourselves with the Baltic Sea Action Plan and to do so within the very time frame set in the plan. We are in a hurry, 2021 will soon be here.
“I myself come from Åland, the self-governed, neutralised and demilitarised Islands of Peace as we are called. We have 6,700 larger islands, and we are situated in the middle of the Baltic Sea. For us, the sea is a central lifeline and living space. We see it every morning and say good night to it every evening.
“Therefore, we consider it necessary to keep emphasizing the political will regarding a clean Baltic Sea. It calls for action rather than talk.
“For that reason, I am glad about this ministerial meeting happening here today. Such meetings generally lead to more forceful follow-up actions. That is why we call for these ministerial meetings to happen regularly every year, as we have also asked of the CBSS, making HELCOM more politically powerful again.
“As early as 5 years ago, at the last HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Copenhagen, the BSPC reiterated its appeal to governments for forceful efforts to implement the Baltic Sea Action Plan.
“Apart from all the progress achieved by HELCOM in the meantime, the current situation shows us that appeals alone are not enough. We must act more widely and stringently and make greater efforts. The priorities from our point of view also include eutrophication, marine litter, hazardous substances and underwater noise.
“Dear Ministers of Environmental Affairs,
“like you, we support the agreements in the new ministerial declaration and the path you are taking on this basis. At the same time, however, we call for stricter action at the national level to guarantee the achievement of the objectives that in our mind are necessary in order to reinstate the health of the Baltic Sea.
“The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference in Åland on 26-28 August 2018 will offer dialogue, debate, solutions, friendship and a strong will to increase cooperation, prosperity, sustainability and a healthy environment in the region.
“I invite you all to come to the conference. Let us – parliaments, governments and societies – strengthen our efforts working toward a good environmental status of our Baltic Sea, which is a lifeline for all of us.
“You all are welcome to participate in order to fulfil the will of all people depending on the health of the Baltic Sea!”
BSPC President Pettersson also had an intensive conversation with the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, on the ocean-related UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, on the particular situation of sea islands, on topics related to the environment, maritime affairs, the impact of Brexit, especially in regard to fisheries policies and hunting issues. He further spoke with the Finnish Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Kimmo Tiilikainen, in view of the upcoming 27th annual conference of the BSPC on 26-28 August 2018 in Mariehamn as well as with HELCOM Chair Marianne Wenning, HELCOM Executive Secretary Monika Stankiewicz, Ambassador Hans Olsson, Chairman of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials, as well as Deputy-Director of the CBSS Secretariat Bernd Hemingway.
Statement by BSPC, HELCOM Ministerial Meeting, 6 March 2018, Brussels