Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2012

Governing the blue-green Baltic Sea: Societal challenges of marine eutrophication prevention

Mia Pihlajamäki, Nina Tynkkynen

November 2011

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


Eutrophication is currently regarded as the most serious ecological problem for the whole Baltic Sea. Considering that the Baltic Sea has already been the focus of environmental management efforts for 40 years, it is surprising that in reality the ecological state of the Baltic Sea is not improving. This implies that protective efforts such as international and national policies and regulations, as well as their implementation, have not been effective enough. Management of Baltic Sea eutrophication is challenged by the complex ecological characteristics of the eutrophication problem, societal differences across the Baltic Sea region, and the multitude of actors involved in governing these efforts. As a consequence, the awareness of the problem of eutrophication, as well as national and sub-national aspirations, the ability to address eutrophication in national policies and the strengthening of policy implementation, varies across the region. Furthemore, the lack of a legal arrangement of Baltic Sea protection to cover all the coastal countries makes the situation intricate. The ultimate aim of this report is to improve Baltic Sea eutrophication protection by identifying the challenges of more effective Baltic Sea eutrophication governance at national, regional and European Union levels, and the examination of nutrient trading as an instrument to more effectively combat eutrophication.