The HELCOM Ecosystem Approach: time for quantification, integration and measures

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http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-6820-7
Title: The HELCOM Ecosystem Approach: time for quantification, integration and measures
Author: Backer Johnsen, Hermanni
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Doctoral Programme in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020-12-14
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-6820-7
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/321949
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (article-based)
Abstract: This thesis studies the ecosystem approach (EA) which is a concept used in environmental science, policy, and law. It is widely referred to in protection of the world’s seas and oceans, including regional cooperation such as the work of The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM). In general, the ecosystem approach reflects the idea that management should be more integrated across different human activities but also that it should be based on, usually scientific, knowledge of ecosystems. More specifically, however, its substance remains a subject of debate. This thesis aims at contributing to the understanding of the ecosystem approach by studying and outlining a HELCOM interpretation as emerging from the implementation process 2003-2018. The thesis is based on the findings of five articles, four of which provide case studies on different aspects of EA implementation at HELCOM based on meeting records, literature research and first-hand knowledge. The fifth article is a study of HELCOM work 2003-2018 based on attendance and topics of 724 international meetings organised during the implementation period, types of organizational output and the outcomes of Ministerial Meetings. The summary derives a conceptual framework for EA with three elements, to report and discuss the findings of the five Articles. The thesis concludes that, as implemented within HELCOM, EA can be characterised by an element of quantification consisting of definitions and regulatory use of scientific targets of ecosystem quality, with roots in EU regulatory approaches and a different focus compared to the EA as defined within the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). A second element of integration is manifested in a significant expansion of new HELCOM activities in the fields of MSP, Fisheries, Agriculture and regional linkages to EU and global policies. However, regarding the third element, EA resulting in concrete management measures, has been a central component of implementation activities, but the main result seems to be in providing a more elaborate ways for proposing, justifying, specifying, and reporting the achievement of management action decided in other processes than HELCOM. The results of the fifth article indicate that the annual HELCOM work has doubled in volume during 2003-2018, measured as hours spent in meetings. This increase can be attributed to a general dilation, across all activities, as well as the new fields of work. Comparing the types of documents adopted by HELCOM in the beginning and end of the period 2003-2018 there is some evidence that a shift has taken place from technical specifications and concrete emission standards to more assessment products & indicators. Based on the data collected it is not possible to conclude whether these developments are a result of EA implementation as such, or primarily due to other factors such as the parallel, and closely intertwined, implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Due to its scientific nature the EA element of quantification is more an evolution of the traditional HELCOM monitoring and assessment work, however the integration element involves expansion of cooperation to new substance areas, professional groups, and worldviews. This work requires diplomatic effort and innovation for joint solutions to the environmental problems of the Baltic Sea. More focus on relevant human activities, drivers of change and monitoring progress in the implementation on key management measures affecting the state of the marine environment, but also scenarios and foresight could provide new avenues for the protection of the Baltic Sea. Keywords: sea, marine, ecosystem management, regional seas cooperation, Helsinki Convention, Baltic Sea, EU, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, marine spatial planning, MSP, international organization, meeting
Subject: ympäristötieteet
Rights: This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.


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