The Baltic Sea is a small semi-enclosed sea that lies to the south of Finland.
It is a unique and ecologically extremely vulnerable marine area, and is one of the most polluted water bodies in the world. The most serious problem facing the Baltic Sea is eutrophication – caused by excessive amounts of nutrients flowing into the water.
The Baltic Sea is encircled by nine countries. Hundreds of rivers discharge their waters into the sea. The only connection to the North Sea and the Atlantic are through two narrow and shallow straits. Thus, the water remains in the Baltic Sea for a long time and it is estimated that it takes 30-50 years for the total water mass to be exchanged.
The alarming state of the Baltic Sea has negative effects,
both direct and indirect, on the ways the sea is utilised. However, its current condition can be turned around through the cooperation among the Baltic Sea states and the collaboration of various public and private partners.
Improvement in the cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region – especially protection of the marine environment – is one of the top priorities of the Finnish government. Finland participates in the first macro-regional programme of the EU, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The BSAS process was started during the Baltic Sea Action Summit, held in Finland in February 2010, to give momentum to actions to protect the Baltic Sea.
On 1 July 2013 Finland assumed the Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). The one-year Presidency rotates amongst the eleven member countries of the Council. The Presidency was transferred to Finland from Russia.
The theme of Finland’s Presidency of the CBSS is a Clean, Safe and Smart Baltic Sea. The priorities include maritime policy, civil security, as well as people-to-people cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. The priorities now selected are based on the sectors of the Council’s activities, which are the environment and sustainable development, energy, education and culture, economy and civil security.