BONUS-HELCOM NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT (issued 9 November 2018):  BONUS and HELCOM advance the environmental agenda of the Baltic Sea and bolster cooperation with other sea basins at key conference

To draw from the lessons of their respective initiatives for improving the Baltic Sea environment, BONUS and HELCOM invited stakeholders from the region to the Joint BONUS-HELCOM Conference: Research and Innovation for Sustainability that took place in Copenhagen on 6 November 2018.

With a focus on blue growth and the economic benefits of healthy seas, the aim of the conference was also to bridge the gap between science and policy for the improvement of the ecological state of the Baltic Sea.

The conference also reinforced synergies and links between HELCOM, BONUS and key strategic actors in northern European regional seas, notably OSPAR, ICES and JPI Oceans

Drawing from the achievements and lessons learned from the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) – HELCOM’s strategic tool to restore the good ecological status of the Baltic Sea – and BONUS – a regional marine research and development programme, the BONUS-HELCOM conference set the premises for increased cooperation in the Baltic Sea region and beyond. 

At the conference, BONUS announced its transition towards the wider Baltic and North Sea Support and Coordination Action (BANOS CSA) that will broaden its scope from the Baltic Sea to more European regional seas.

“The regional seas surrounding the European continent might seem very different, but they all provide the same marine ecosystem services,” said Andris Andrusaitis, BANOS CSA Coordinator and current BONUS Acting Executive Director, further stressing on the need for regional cooperation to address common pressures on the seas.

“What happens in the Baltic should not stay in the Baltic. We have to actively engage in processes beyond the Baltic Sea and share our know-how in ocean conservation to impact on the global agenda,” echoed Monika Stankiewicz, the Executive Secretary of HELCOM.

According to both Andrusaitis and Stankiewicz, BANOS CSA will advance cooperation between the Baltic and North Sea sub-basins, and is a an important step towards a stronger involvement of the Baltic Sea region at a worldwide level, notably on providing solutions for global ocean management.

Set to start in November 2018, BANOS CSA is constituted of major research and innovation funds and organizations from 12 countries, as well as of four transnational bodies – HELCOM, ICES, JPI Oceans, and OSPAR.

Funded within the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework and set to run for 30 month, BANOS CSA will enable joint Baltic Sea and North Sea research and innovation for healthier seas.

“Our promise is to ensure that the future programme will achieve high level of scientific, administrative and financial integration, and generate strong impact as well as EU-level benefits,” said Andrusaitis.

For its part, HELCOM also saw the conference as an occasion to gather views and experiences from its stakeholders on the update of the BSAP that is set to be renewed after 2021, its initial end date.

“The joint BONUS-HELCOM conference is an opportunity to advance our plans on how to utilize the latest results of BONUS and other research projects for the purpose of the update of the BSAP,” said Stankiewicz.

HELCOM and OSPAR have both recently published comprehensive assessments on the ecosystem health of the seas – the State of the Baltic Sea report and the Intermediate Assessment respectively.