The BSPC at the XX International Environmental Forum “Baltic Sea Day”
in St. Petersburg: Asphjell calls for stricter action on national level
BSPC President Jorodd Asphjell and the representative of the delegation of the Finnish Parliament to the BSPC, Maria Tolppanen, attended the XX International Environmental Forum “Baltic Sea Day” on 21-22 March in St. Petersburg. In his address to the Forum, Jorodd Asphjell underlined the importance of a constructive dialogue and close cooperation especially in politically difficult times as well as the crucial need for stricter action at national and regional levels to reinstate the health of the Baltic Sea and to meet the UN’s 2030 development goals as quickly as possible.
In particular, he said:
“In my capacity as President of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, I bring the warmest congratulations to you for celebrating 20 years of successful joint efforts for sustainable development and improving the environment in the Baltic Sea Region.
Especially in politically difficult times, constructive dialogue and close cooperation are very important.
From the very beginning, the BSPC has dealt intensively with environmental issues.
We aim to be progressive and to urge governments to act. And we try to convince those who are still hesitant.
For my home country, Norway, the sea is a central lifeline and living space.
That is why we also have a vital interest in the well-being of the Baltic Sea. That is why Norway invited leaders from coastal states across the world to develop a roadmap for the transition to a sustainable ocean economy and will report to the UN Ocean Conference next year.
We want to build a sustainable ocean economy.
We must stop destroying the world’s marine ecosystems.
We must improve the environmental status of the oceans.
Even if my home country, Norway, is not a member of HELCOM, we are involved in the HELCOM work through the support you get from the BSPC and also from the Nordic Council.
The BSPC placed an additional focus in its Strategy and Work programme on the issue of sustainable management of the oceans and will continue to work on this aspect during our next conference in Oslo. This added focus especially involves a sustainable ocean economy, blue entrepreneurship as well as research and innovation for a healthy ocean, which includes fighting the plastic waste in the seas.
In the BSPC work programme and at our next conference in Oslo, we will focus on:
- Sustainable ocean management and economy
- Research and innovation for a healthy ocean
- The fight against plastic waste
HELCOM has done much successful work in that direction. However, we need more action at the national and regional level.
As you know:
Since the beginning of our cooperation – and during 17 years as an official observer –, the 27 parliaments and parliamentary organisations of the BSPC have actively supported the work of HELCOM and called on our governments to give HELCOM the political support it needs to do what must be done.
Apart from all the progress made by HELCOM in the meantime, the current situation shows us that appeals alone are not enough. We must act more widely and make more significant efforts.
The HELCOM Ministerial meeting last year in Brussels realized this.
We support the agreements in the new ministerial declaration. At the same time, however, we call for stricter action at the national level necessary to reinstate the health of the Baltic Sea.
In our current resolution, we have paid particular attention to urgent measures in the field of environmental protection:
We addressed the increasing pollution and burden on the seas, in particular from plastic waste,
we called for urgent action in this area, both for the Baltic Sea region and beyond, to meet the UN’s 2030 development goals as quickly as possible.
We welcomed all efforts to move towards a healthy and clean Baltic Sea;
We called urgently on the governments to develop national and regional strategies
- to achieve the UN’s Agenda 2030 goals
- to clear marine litter from the Baltic Sea
- to promote sustainable agricultural practices
- to promote more sustainable shipping
- to tackle eutrophication and underwater noise
- to halt untreated discharges without delay and to show determination to clean up the heavily polluted sea
- to take urgent, efficient action against the worrying levels of plastics and microplastics in the seas
- to support and implement the regulations on reducing or banning single-use plastic as quickly as possible
- to promote public awareness of microplastic pollution throughout the Baltic ecosystem
- to encourage customers to avoid personal care products containing micro plastics
- to further strengthen the interaction between the UN Sustainable Development Goals and human rights while recognising their close relationship
I was looking forward to the results of your expert seminars yesterday and your joint efforts and proposals. We support such activities as far as possible.
The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference in Oslo on 25-27 August 2019 will offer dialogue, debate, solutions, friendship and a strong will to increase cooperation for a healthy Baltic Sea!”
In the margins of the conference, the representatives of the BSPC had talks with representatives of the CBSS, HELCOM, the BSSSC and the Finnish government.