Ecosystem-based approach

Concluding meeting of Community of Practice on Ecosystem-based approach – achievements and outlook

On November 29, the Learning Strand on Ecosystem-Based Approach of  the eMSP NBSR project and it’s Community of Practice led by HELCOM and Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management had their 6th and final online meeting dedicated to final results and recommendations. 

Despite early morning scheduled meeting participants were engaging in substantial discussions. For the start of the meeting Jan Schmidtbauer Crona (Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management) guided participants through the evolution of the Learning Strand on Ecosystem-Based Approach in MSP within the eMSP NBSR project.

Then firstly were discussed the outcomes of the case study on MSP for spatial protection – “MSP and MPA” completed as a part of the Learning Strands’s workplan. The results were presented by Annica Brink (Government of Åland) and Riku Varjopuro (Finnish Environmental Institute). Participants welcomed the results, specifically pointing out meticulous study of national approaches to coordinate MSP and spatial nature conservation measures. While recommendations derived from the study were welcomed by the participants it was also suggested to consider the issues related to coordination (or miscoordination) of timelines for the respective MSP and nature conservation processes – all this formulated as recommendation to strengthen the linkages between MSP and nature conservation processes. As addition to the upcoming Policy Brief on the implementation of Ecosystem-Based Approach in MSP, meeting participants also proposed to reflect the need of awareness raising and education as a tool for building trust between stakeholders.

The Meeting further took note of the preliminary results of another case study on MSP for good status of the marine environment – the Case study “MSP for GES”. The information was presented by Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky (HELCOM) on behalf of Ville Karvinen (Finnish Environmental Institute). Participants pointed out that the study related to Mariparks is to be connected with respective work of the Learning Strand on the Sustainable Blue Economy and recommended to investigate use of MSFD indicators for the assessment of the Mariparks’ potential environmental impact.

A draft Policy Brief on the implementation of the Ecosystem-Based Approach in MSP was presented by Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky (HELCOM). The Meeting welcomed the recommendations, and it was highlighted that they are concise, focused and well formulated. Participants discussed whether the political commitment related to zero pollution from the European Green Deal initiative should be reflected in the Policy Brief. The participants exchanged views on the subject, but did not come to a consensus, highlighting the fact that human activities causing pollution are barely regulated by MSP and pollution reduction is primarily a subject of technological development. Further, participants expressed the view that the development of a joint Strategic Environmental Assessment framework for the North and the Baltic Seas sounds very ambitious.

Finally, participants responded to an online survey on application of a Community of Practice approach and working mode in eMSP NBSR project and expressed general satisfaction with this working format. This and discussions altogether were rewarding acknowledgement for the coordinators of the respective Learning Strand on the Ecosystem-Based Approach in MSP.

Policy Brief and all results will be published here in the beginning of 2024.

Meanwhile, consider joining us at our Final Conference to hear the story of Learning Strands and to jointly move towards sustainable practices in MSP.

Prepared by Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky (HELCOM), Jan Schmidtbauer Crona (Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management) & Margarita Vološina (VASAB Secretariat) November, 2023