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The Gulf of Finland Year: kick-off


21 of January the trilateral Finland-Russia-Estonian Forum in Helsinki has ceremonially opened the Gulf of Finland Year 2014. This year actions should promote common solu-tions of Finland, Russia and Estonia improving environmental state of the Gulf and the Baltic Sea. The important part of the GOF Year program is set of educational activities. Friends of the Baltic in cooperation with NGOs and educational institutions of three coun-tries organize preparing the Youth Declaration to the Gulf of Finland Year


Sauli Niinisto, the President of the Republic of Finland opened the Forum. The welcome speeches were made by the Villa Niinisto, Minister of environment, Finland, and Jussi Pajunen, mayor, city of Helsinki. From Russian side was Vadim Tulpanov, Deputy Chairman of Steering Committee, member of the Federation Council. He stressed that during the year of the Gulf of Finland we will focus on increasing awareness activities. It is necessary to attract public attention to the problems of water resources of the Baltic region.

Nuritdin Inamov, head of the international Department of the Ministry of natural resources and ecology of the Russian Federation took an active part in discussion. He listed a number of projects, dedicated to the Gulf of Finland Year - St.Petersburg initiative, Gazprom project on the use of liquefied natural gas as fuel for railway transport, energy efficiency programme in the sector of Maritime transport and the project of modernization of water treatment facilities at the plant of company «Baltika».

The main goal of Gulf of Finland Year - coordination of scientific research, united in 5 key themes (Marine planning, pollution and ecosystem health, fish and fisheries, Maritime transport and its specifics in winter conditions, marine biodiversity), and the attraction of public attention to problems and perspectives of sustainable development of the Gulf of Finland.

The Marine Science and Society Forum and Citizens Forum joined the Gulf of Finland gathered more than 250 scientists, local politicians, NGO representatives and other stake-holder from three countries. Opening presented main challenges and necessary solution which should be specially strengthened within the Gulf of Finland year. Prof. Mari Walls, Finnish Environment Institute, Finland in her welcome speech said that this year should help to agree about common solutions to improve environmental sate of the Gulf of Fin-land – quick and effective. One of the Year result should be the common spatial plan of the gulf.

Public organizations and educational establishments of St. Petersburg, as well as their colleagues from Finland and Estonia, devote the whole complex of events to Gulf of Finland Year. Friends of the Baltic, Baltic Fund for nature, the Ecological-biological center «Krestovsky island» and «Vodokanal» are preparing a series of events for youth and teachers, and organize the preparation of the International Youth Declaration. The key event in the preparation of this Declaration will be the international youth camp, which will be held in July in Helsinki.

Cities Forum was divided into 4 sections. On section «Storm water» were discussed the problems of increasing precipitation, which cause significant damage to the infrastructure of the city. The absence of a system of assignment of the storm water leads to the flooding of urban spaces. Then the water can go directly into the sea without any treatment. Authorities of many cities, understanding the economic damage from climate change, come to that it is necessary to develop a complex of measures on adaptation to changes in climate. In St. Petersburg adaptation climate policy has only begun to be developed.

The section on «Whether a vegetarian diet could save the Baltic sea?» discussed the problems of food in the context of the ecology of the Baltic sea. What kind of meat is less harm for environment? How many of nitrates comes from farms in the Baltic sea? How much fuel was used to delivere product in the store? Section performed Professor DRA Kurppa, the representative of the project FOODWEB (http://foodweb.ut.ee/). The main goal of the project is to increase the awareness of the population about the influence of those or other products on eutrophication and climate change.

Petteri Huuska, the representative of the city of Helsinki environment centre, spoke about the role of municipalities in the organization of public catering. Vegetarianism is quite popular in Helsinki. Vegetar-ian Day held every week in urban schools from 2010 and in this day the school cafeteria disciples eat only vegetarian food.
All school canteens food supplies one firm. This enterprise produces 22 million meals per year. Affect-ing the composition of all of the portions, you can considerably reduce the amount of harmful emissions into the environment.

Another section was devoted to urban wastewater treatment plants. According to Olga Senova, Chair-man of the organization «Friends of the Baltic», traditionally in matters of payback the environmental consequences are not taken into account. If there is no treatment facilities, pollution from sewage negatively affect fish resources, and on human health. Treatment facilities improve the situation, contribute to the restoration of natural resources, reducing health risks should be assessed in monetary terms.

Unfortunately, even in many settlements of the Gulf of Finland there are no treatment facilities - in gardenings, holiday villages, in other small settlements. There are budget decisions, many of which promotes and approves a Coalition Clean Baltic. Coastal municipalities should pay attention to these technologies. In the Gulf of Finland Year “Friends of the Baltic” will continue to conduct information campaign on the issues of treatment facilities for sparsely populated areas and a reduction of phos-phates in the Baltic sea.

More information gof2014.fi

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