Baltic Sea Action Summit – true actions or empty words?

Friday, 12. February 2010     0 comment(s)
Maria Jokela
Researcher – PROBALT project
International Politics of Natural Resources and the Environment research programme
Baltic Sea Action Summit approved civil society’s and companies’ willingness to act to save the Baltic Sea. For the first time policy makers and private sector representatives were brought together for this common goal, but unfortunately the commitments from the policy sector remained weak. However, the success of the Summit - 150 commitments - shows that there is a request for this kind of an action approach. By being flexible and non-bureaucratic, the Baltic Sea Action Group’s private initiative generated in ten months more action than the public sector has generated in years.

As the representative of IBM Larry Hirst stressed in his speech at the Action Summit that technology is not the problem anymore. Problems of protection work are in the lack of leadership and consensus building, but the Baltic Sea can not wait - we have to act today!

This is the strength of the private sectors’ entry. Contrary to the public sector, companies bring an action-oriented mentality into the protection practices. Successful business activities are based on cost-effective thinking, goal-oriented actions and clear timetables. This kind of a straightforward way of action is needed also in the protection of the Baltic Sea.

Still the commitments are not enough to save the Baltic Sea from dying. They are a good addition to the protection work, but what is eventually needed is a binding protection agreement. By bringing together influential group of leaders, the Action Summit managed to achieve widespread publicity. In the best case scenario this will generate political impetus and, eventually, true political commitments. In the worst case scenario these commitments made by the heads of states will turn out to be merely empty words.

However, there is a chance that the Action Summit has managed to create something called Baltic Sea spirit. This spirit could bear fruit in terms of new private commitments as well as political activity. As was witnessed at the Summit the commitment approach poses the question to stakeholders: why give the competitor or the neighbouring state the chance to benefit solely from the new opportunities and positive publicity?

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