The year 2014 has been declared as The Gulf of Finland Year: the memorandum has been signed by the Finnish, Russian and Estonian environmental ministries. The presidents of the three countries act as patrons for the theme year. Besides scientific research, there will be a lot of educational events for a broad audience throughout the year. Friends of the Baltic coordinate the international youth cooperation for drawing up the Declaration on the Protection of the Gulf of Finland.
On September 19th, at the ceremonious sitting of The Gulf of Finland Year Public Councils in the Tavricheskiy palace, the Youth Declaration, written in four languages (Russian, Finnish, Estonian and English) will be handed to the representatives of the national public councils of the Gulf of Finland Year in Finland, Estonia and Russia (the governors of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast) and to Kai Myrberg, the coordinator of the international Gulf of Finland Year. The event is organized in the frameworks of the international forum ”Gulf of Finland – Area of Cooperation”.
During the year, young environmental activists from the three countries studied the Gulf of Finland, its natural values and environmental problems. Based on this, they made their own proposals for reducing the amount of harmful substances in the sea and its shores and for making the gulf comfortable living surroundings for people. In the summer, the groups from all three countries worked together on the Youth Declaration at an international youth camp in Helsinki and on the environmental round trip and the seminars “Three countries – three islands”.
The meetings and cooperation of the young related to the Declaration were organized by the Finnish Biology and geography teachers union (BMOL), Friends of the Baltic, The Finnish Nature League, Youth Environmental Centre of the Vodokanal, Environment Centre of the city of Helsinki, Environment Department of the city of Tallinn in cooperation with the Baltic Fund for Nature, Ecology and Biology Centre “Krestovsky Island” and other cooperation partners from the three countries.
All of this was possible with the support of The Nordic Council of Ministries, Finnish Ministry of the Environment, Finnish Environment Institution and the administrations of Saint Petersburg, Leningrad Oblast, Helsinki and Tallinn.
According to Olga Senova, council chair of Friends of the Baltic, getting young people involved in nature protection will in the future help solve many problems that are connected to human impacts on the environment. The most important thing is to demonstrate what everybody can do for a green and peaceful future – young people are open to new ideas and eager to share them in their own circles, at home and in school. For example, the first simple step towards resolving the problems concerning the Gulf of Finland is to reconsider what kinds of household chemicals we use every day. It is important to know, that when buying washing powder, we can choose the one with very little or no phosphates at all. In that way, phosphates will not end up in our sewage and we are able to bring down the oversupply of nutrients that induce the growth of aquatic plants and to reduce the occurrence of blue-green algae.
The young suggest also other simple measures that are available to anyone: for example, people could more often use public transportation instead of private cars and travel short distances by bike. The city policy-makers, on their part, have to take an active role in improving public transportation and bicycle infrastructure and take this into account in city planning. This way we can reduce the air pollution in our cities.
The voice of the young, Youth Declaration on the Protection of the Gulf of Finland, helps the appeal for taking the necessary actions reach the audience in the three countries: the media, the decision-makers and all the coastal inhabitants of our shared Gulf of Finland and Baltic Sea.