The serene beauty of the Baltic Sea belies a growing environmental crisis, characterised by pollution and ecological challenges. Recognizing the urgency, the European Commission is set to host the 2nd edition of the Our Baltic Conference on 29th September 2023 in Palanga, Lithuania. This significant event will assemble ministers from the eight EU nations bordering the Baltic Sea – Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland, and Sweden.
Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, along with these ministers, will review the progress achieved since the inaugural Our Baltic Conference in 2020 and chart a course for further action.
At the heart of discussions will be a crucial issue – the presence of unexploded munitions from World Wars, which continue to hinder economic activities and contaminate the Baltic Sea. Approximately 300,000 tons of these munitions rest on the seafloor, demanding immediate attention.
The conference’s key areas of focus include:
- Environment & Fisheries: Assessing advancements based on the commitments outlined in the 2020 Ministerial Declaration of the Our Baltic Conference, and formulating strategies to address current challenges.
- Blue Economy: Exploring avenues to nurture maritime activities such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, and the bioeconomy, ensuring they flourish without further compromising the Baltic’s delicate ecosystem.
- Unexploded Munitions: Confronting the persistent threat of unexploded munitions, aiming to remove obstacles hindering economic growth while safeguarding the environment.
The Baltic Sea, encompassing the lives of over 85 million individuals, faces unique vulnerabilities due to its shallow nature, limited connection to the ocean, slow water circulation, and low temperatures. Regrettably, it remains the most polluted sea in Europe, suffering from biodiversity loss, climate change, eutrophication, overfishing, and contamination.
The Our Baltic Conference stands as a testament to the commitment made in 2020 by the European Commission and Baltic Member States to safeguard the Baltic Sea’s marine environment, combat eutrophication, reduce pollution, promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and foster a sustainable blue economy.
For those eager to delve deeper into the discussions and potential solutions, more information can be found at: Our Baltic Conference – European Commission.
The Our Baltic Conference serves as a rallying point for collective efforts, aiming to rejuvenate and preserve the Baltic Sea’s natural splendour for generations to come.