Needs and Approaches to Improve Access to Environmental Information for Transboundary Decision-Making in the Baltic Sea Region
From an international environment and sustainable development perspective, the Baltic Sea Region1 is one of the more exciting transboundary regions of the world today. In fact, this region has since the 1970’s been followed closely by the international community, and in many respects been considered a model region for its innovative solutions to its environmental problems. In the 1970’s, the shared concerns were the increased multiple type pollution to the Baltic Sea and the recognition of these problems as truly transboundary, thus demanding joint solutions. The establishment of the first Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area in 1974 was a result of this recognition. The convention managed by the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) was the first international agreement to cover all sources of pollution, from land and from ships as well as airborne.
In a decade characterised by remarkable geopolitical changes, such as the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the unification of the two German States and the enlargement of the European Union, the international environment and sustainable development commitments of the region have been further reinforced. Several high-level as well as grassroot level initiatives have emerged. Many of
them have common goals - to improve the environmental health of the Baltic Sea and to secure long-term sustainable ecological and economic development for the people and countries within its drainage basin. A number of these initiatives, including the Baltic Joint Comprehensive Environmental Action Programme (JCP), the Vision and Strategies Around the Baltic (VASAB) 2010 and the Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region (Baltic 21), have all identified a need for monitoring or information systems to support these efforts and to enable the region to quantitatively measure its achievements. In the spirit of chapter 40 of the global Agenda 21, indicators of environment and sustainable development, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Internet are tools and techniques frequently mentioned by these initiatives.
The Seminar clearly pointed to the timely needs of the Baltic Sea Region to develop a monitoring and information system to follow-up the conclusions and actions coming from the international Baltic 21 and VASAB 2010 initiatives. This should complement an enhanced HELCOM and JCP monitoring and information system.
Type: Staff Publications
Year of publication: 1997
Place of publication: Nairobi, Kenya