Unlocking hidden values in nutrient monitoring and reporting

Whilst working with the cities in our Baltic Sea City Accelerator pilot programme, we and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), one of our partners in the programme, perceived both a need and an opportunity for further investigation with respect to the municipalities’ monitoring and reporting of nutrient data to regional and national authorities, and HELCOM.


Perhaps there is more value that can be captured from the monitoring and reporting of nutrient pollution data? Can we determine the most cost-effective efforts to clean up the Baltic Sea and mobilise cities and citizens into action?

Together with SIWI and the Baltic Sea City Accelerator cities, and supported by research conducted by IVL (Swedish Environmental Research Institute), we’ve been working on a project to delve further into questions such as: What value is there for municipalities to develop local Baltic Sea Action Plans and HELCOM targets? How could improved monitoring and reporting benefit local environments and help create a prosperous region? Could harmonised monitoring and reporting of data help us clean up the Baltic Sea?

The project - Pioneers for a Better Pollution Monitoring and Reporting - funded by Svenska Institutet (SI), has examined what is going on at the municipal level regarding monitoring and reporting for the Water Framework Directive and the Baltic Sea Action Plan. The HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), adopted by all coastal states and the EU in 2007, sets out a strategic plan to restore the health of the Baltic Sea. Whilst the environmental work of municipalities will play an important role for restoring the health of the Baltic Sea, many municipalities are currently unaware of the national or regional BSAP targets.

Yet, if municipalities were actively measuring and reporting actions, and understood how their data was contributing to a better understanding of the state of the Baltic Sea at the regional, i.e. HELCOM, level, we think that this could better inform measures undertaken at the local level.

The project is now hosting workshops in three of the pioneer cities to further explore possibilities for more municipalities to work closer with HELCOM BSAP targets. We’re looking at the possible synergies between HELCOM’s work on the regional level and that carried out by the municipalities. Of particular interest is how municipalities could increase and standardise the way they collect and report data on pollution reduction actions. This would be not only useful for understanding if such actions work, but could help us to compare and scale best-practices across the Baltic Sea Region.

In the upcoming workshops, we’ll be asking municipalities how monitoring and reporting pollution reduction measures, and aligning their work to the Baltic Sea Action Plan, could also benefit their localities.