Northern Dimension Institute Briefing Note | August 2021
The urgent need for standardized assessment of microplastic pollution in the Arctic Ocean
By Konstantin S. Zaikov, Northern Arctic Federal University, Arkhangelsk, Russia, k.zaikov[a]narfu.ru
and Nikita A. Sobolev, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, n.a.sobolev[a]outlook.com
Microplastic (MP) pollution has become a problem that challenges the modern environmental science. The complex nature and behavior of the marine ecosystem causes high uncertainties for the qualitative and quantitative assessment of microplastic pollution of the marine environment. The absence of standard and accredited protocols of microplastic analysis in water and biota lead to significantly different results obtained in the same sampling areas and therefore bias the estimated microplastic pollution levels and the consequent policy decisions.
Existing studies show an increasing amount of microplastic in the Arctic marine ecosystem and suggest that the Arctic is becoming a dead end for marine plastic litter - as it has already happened for the Pacific Ocean. However, there is still lack of reliable research data for the Arctic Ocean and especially Russian part of the Arctic Ocean, which may lead to the underestimation of the MP pollution problem. This in turn makes it difficult to assess its the negative consequences, such as how changes in marine biota reproductivity and health affect the economic sustainability of fishing industries.
The above-mentioned factors demonstrate an urgent need for raising awareness about the MP pollution of the Arctic marine ecosystem, and for further research that contributes to the development of standard protocols of MP analysis and expands the coverage of research sites within the Arctic. A standard protocol for the analysis of microplastic in water and biota would help in identifying and assessing the hot spots of plastic pollution in the Arctic marine ecosystem.
The development of the protocol should be approached as a co-creation effort, which includes collaboration among research laboratories and other institutions, and engages citizens to the MP sampling and hot-spot identification. This would not only to decrease costs of fieldwork, but also educates citizens of Arctic communities in environmental issues and in the responsible use of plastics.
Microplastic pollution in the Arctic Ocean is increasing
Plastic is nowadays one of the most important and frequently used materials in industries and in households. The annual global demand for plastics in 2011 amounted to 245 million tons and it is constantly increasing . Therefore, plastic pollution is increasing as only 8.8% of total plastic waste in the world is recycled . The growing amount of plastic waste leads to increasing microplastic pollution. Microplastics are plastic particles less than 5 mm in diameter, and they end up in the environment through ultraviolet radiation, water, mechanical and other types of degradation of plastic items.
It is well known that the most plastic waste is produced in industrialized regions. The Arctic is not such a region, but the amount of fishing and other industrial activities in the Arctic is also increasing. In addition, a significant amount of plastic pollution is brought to the Arctic with the ocean currents, due to which the Arctic finally becomes a dead end for this pollution . Therefore, the amount of microplastic found in Arctic seas is at the sample level near to that of the shores of industrially developed countries and regions.
Figure 1. Pathways of microplastic’s negative impacts on marine biota 
Microplastics affects negatively living organisms in the ocean. It can cause physical harm and disrupt the body of marine biota, and cause their death by suffocation or ingestion of plastics. At the same time, plastics are able to accumulate persistent organic pollutants on their surface, which can poison marine animals, causing harm to the marine biota and bioaccumulate in the food web .
A standardized methodology for MP pollution assessment is needed
There are many standard protocols developed for the analysis of emerging pollutants in different environmental samples. Such methods are widely used and commonly accepted, and therefore allow the scientific community to assess the quality of new results. MP pollution research is a relatively new field, and there is not yet such a standard method for MP analysis. The assessment of MP pollution in water and biota is currently carried out by a large number of different methodologies and protocols. For this reason, it is difficult to compare the data obtained even in relatively close geographical areas by different scientific groups . Problems arise first, due to the different solvents used for sample preparations. In some cases, researchers use strong acids or other solvents which can damage or fully destroy some plastic particles. Another common problem is the insufficient amount of water or biota samples collected, which can bias the original concentration of plastic particles both in water (particles per m3) and biota (particles per kg or individual specie). Finally, positive and negative control in some studies is made improperly, which increases the possibility of losses of MP during sample collection and preparation, or overestimation due to the external pollution of samples from the laboratory equipment or cloth.
The lack of standard procedure can eventually lead to misguided policy decisions, when these decisions are based on inaccurate data or over/underestimations of the extent of environmental pollution. The development of the standard procedure calls for global collaboration of the leading laboratories in the field of microplastic analysis, and needs to be based on the existing knowledge for sample preparation and analysis. At the same time, Arctic is a specific region and the knowledge obtained there can thus contribute to the development of the standardized method for MP pollution assessment. This would, however, require more financial support for the collection and analysis of samples, and the development of the methodologies by environmental scientists.
Arctic citizens are a valuable resource for MP pollution assessment
Arctic is a specific region of our planet. Due to its harsh conditions it continues to be less populated than most of the other regions, except Antarctica. For this reason, the Arctic could be assumed to be less polluted by plastic litter. On the other hand, several significant ocean currents such as the Golf Stream and Bering strait current deliver plastic litter to the Arctic from the developed regions, and therefore increase the amount of plastic pollution in this region. The sparse population in the Arctic also means that the local scientific community is relatively small, and there are limited human resources to conduct field research in the unpopulated regions of the Arctic. This problem could be partially solved with the help of local population by engaging them to sample collection in currently inaccessible sites. Such cooperation with the local people could become not only a scientific but also an educational project, as it is necessary to instruct the local volunteers to properly collect and conservate samples. This targeted project could be part of wider educational programs in environmental education and responsible use of plastics in the Arctic communities. Such programs together with real work could solve local environmental problems or at least reduce them.
There are already good examples of citizen science for MP sample collection from distant Arctic and sub-Arctic territories, and one of them is illustrated in the Clean North - clean country -project . In this project local students and volunteers collected water samples from distant points of the Arkhangelsk region of Russian Federation, specifically from Severnaya Dvina, Onega and Mezen’ rivers, and also from some small lakes and reveres of the region. In addition to sample collection, the project included lectures to the local population. The project resulted in the first data on the MP pollution of White Sea basin, as it provided scientists the opportunity to obtain samples from distant territories. The data enabled to make conclusions on the MP transfer of plastic in the semi-closed White Sea basin.
This project is an example of a collective effort, where scientist and volunteer organizations worked together and were supported by the local government. Such collaboration could offer a future opportunity to better understand the environmental problems of distant Arctic territories, to teach people careful nature usage, and to solve some local environmental problems.
 Andrady, A. L. (2011). Microplastics in the marine environment. Marine pollution bulletin, 62(8), 1596-1605.
 Gu L., Ozbakkaloglu T. (2016). Use of recycled plastics in concrete: A critical review. Waste Management, 51, 19-42.
 Cózar, A., Martí, E., Duarte, C. M., García-de-Lomas, J., et.al. (2017). The Arctic Ocean as a dead end for floating plastics in the North Atlantic branch of the Thermohaline Circulation. Science advances, 3(4), e1600582.
 Rodrigues, J. P., Duarte, A. C., Santos-Echeandía, J., & Rocha-Santos, T. (2019). Significance of interactions between microplastics and POPs in the marine environment: a critical overview. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 111, 252-260.
 Amelia, T. S. M., Khalik, W. M. A. W. M., Ong, M. C., Shao, Y. T., Pan, H. J., Bhubalan, K. (2021). Marine microplastics as vectors of major ocean pollutants and its hazards to the marine ecosystem and humans. Progress in Earth and Planetary Science, 8(1), 1-26.
 Halsband, C., Herzke, D. (2019). Plastic litter in the European Arctic: What do we know?. Emerging Contaminants, 5, 308-318.
 Public environmental movement’s web-site “Чистый Север – чистая страна” (in Russian) “Clean North- clean country” https://chistsever.ru/ (accessed 15.06.2021).
This policy brief elaborates recommendations for road passenger transport decarbonization in the Northern Dimension (ND) area. On the one hand, road transport emits 25% of total greenhouse gas in ND countries and produces dangerous local pollutions, and the share of passenger transport of these emissions is more than 75%  Nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide and particular matter emissions are the reason for numerous lung and breathe diseases of city inhabitants. On the other hand, road transport gives people invaluable freedom of movement, as people commute every day to work, study and leisure. Average motorization rate is over 50% in ND countries [2, 3]. This raises the key question: How can people keep their freedom of movement but pollute less? There are several ways to decarbonize road passenger transport, such as optimizing driving needs according to ecological criteria, remote work or study, using 2 and 3 wheelers empowered by human or electricity, sharing mobility services with others, and driving less polluting cars such as hybrid, electric or gas vehicles. All these options influence traditional behavior, which needs to be considered in developing policies for road passenger transport decarbonization.
Recommendation 1. Inform people about climate and ecological issues and thus influence positively consumer behavior, and popularize ecomobility.
Recommendation 2. Develop infrastructure and services for carbon-free mobility and sharing. Support eco infrastructure.
Recommendation 3. Balance between economic, ecological, and social needs. Limit the use of polluting transport wherever and whenever it is possible. Ensure access to mobility for people living in remote areas and for low-income people.
Recommendation 4. Make a realistic long-term vision, which includes support for R&D, development of carbon footprint trackers that find the optimal ecological and economic model of sustainable transport system, as well as learning from international experience.
Recommendation 5. Support more intensive technology transfer, joint research, pilot projects, and NGO initiatives among ND countries.
Increasing economic activity in the Russian Arctic has resulted in the growth of vessel traffic related to trade, exploration and research, marine tourism, and natural resource extraction activities. This has heightened the risk of maritime accidents. Navigation and rescue response are challenging in the High North due to its harsh weather and ice conditions, long distances, and vulnerable nature. Therefore, it is important to raise awareness about the potential risks in order to prevent accidents. Here, the analysis of previous accidents in the Arctic waters provides valuable lessons for the future. Such analysis requires summarizing, visualizing and openly sharing accident information. This is not yet the case for the Russian Arctic and therefore it would be valuable to develop public digital sources that contain such accident information.
Recommendation 1: To develop an effective mechanism for the utilization of risk analysis and accident data to improve emergency preparedness and safety level in the Arctic waters.
Recommendation 2: To introduce a digital platform for sharing information about maritime accidents happened in the Russian Arctic and emergency resources available. This platform could be linked to other relevant platforms already existing in Russia and other Arctic countries.
Recommendation 3: To make sure that all actors involved contribute to the analysis and sharing of data related to accidents, and control the quality of the data as to their format and accuracy.
The map and data service of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission
This Policy Brief summarizes the key outcomes and recommendations from the Northern Dimension Expert Seminar1: Nuclear Waste Cleanup in the Arctic, which gathered together leading international experts and key stakeholders on nuclear cleanup projects.
The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership’s Nuclear Window (NDEP NW) is an established platform for eliminating nuclear hazards inherited from the Soviet nuclear fleet operations in the Arctic. The strength of the NDEP NW projects is their operating model, where the NDEP grants administered by the EBRD act as a catalyst for local and complementary national funding, including in-kind support from the beneficiaries.
After years of terrestrial nuclear cleanup, Russia and international actors are taking the remediation of hazardous sunken objects as a strategic priority, and the recent European Commission funded feasibility study identified 17,000 sunken nuclear objects in the Arctic Sea, and drafted a four-step action plan for the management of six most hazardous objects.
The Expert Seminar concluded that the nuclear cleanup of the most hazardous sunken objects should start from the lifting and dismantling of the most urgent ones: nuclear submarines K-27 and K-159, and that the NDEP NW would be a feasible platform for these projects. The learnings from the expert seminar lead to following recommendations for future nuclear cleanup projects on sunken objects in the Arctic:
Recommendation 1: To encourage the Russian Federation to continue its work on establishing a legal and regulatory framework for cleanup of sunken nuclear objects.
Recommendation 2: To inform international donors about how Russian legislation would enable/constrain international cooperation in the potential lifting operation.
Recommendation 3: To seek infrastructural and other synergies with existing NDEP funded projects and with bilateral nuclear cleanup projects.
Recommendation 4: To allocate sufficient complementary national funding to secure operational costs not funded by the NDEP grant.
Recommendation 5: To have a flexible technical and management approach in project design and implementation to account for regulatory and other uncertainties.
Recommendation 6: To ensure efficient knowledge sharing and collaboration between project implementing bodies and key external stakeholders.
For more information, please contact the authors: Dr Päivi Karhunen, Aalto University, paivi.karhunen [a] aalto.fi
Prof. Riitta Kosonen, Aalto University, riitta.kosonen [a] aalto.fi
1The seminar was organized virtually on 25 Nov. 2020. Its program and materials can be found here (link). The information presented in the Policy Brief is retrieved from the seminar presentations, unless otherwise indicated.
Summary: The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters, better known as the “Polar Code”, came into force on 1 January 2017 to improve safety for ship operations in remote waters of the polar regions. It was developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a legally binding international framework that builds on existing mandatory regulations set by IMO in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The goal for implementing the Polar Code is “to provide for safe ship operation and the protection of the polar environment by addressing risks present in polar waters and not adequately mitigated by other instruments of the Organization” .
This paper gives an overview of how the regulations have contributed to enhancing the safety of ship operations and mitigating environmental risks in the Arctic. At the time of writing (November 2020), the Polar Code has been in force for more than three years, so it is time to assess how its implementation has affected the safety of shipping and how it takes environmental issues into account. We identify a number of issues that hamper the effective implementation of the Polar Code, including inadequate maritime infrastructure in the Arctic, the discrepancy between national requirements and those of the Polar Code, and too descriptive requirements concerning, for example, survival equipment and resources. Other areas that need improvement relate to the training of ship crews, and to the bringing the environmental regulation for marine traffic in the Arctic to the same level as in the Antarctic waters. We further examine additional ways of ensuring the safety of polar shipping and protecting polar waters in the era of increasing marine operations, taking into account the on-going work of IMO.
Read more and download the Background Paper here (link).
The Northern Dimension Expert Seminar: Nuclear Waste Cleanup in the Arctic was held on November 25, 2020, as a virtual event. The purpose of the seminar was to build awareness around the recent activities of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership.
The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Nuclear Window (NDEP NW) is an established platform for eliminating nuclear hazards inherited from the Soviet nuclear fleet operations in the Arctic. The NDEP NW projects focus on handling, removal, and transportation of spent nuclear fuel in Northwest Russia. After years of terrestrial nuclear cleanup, Russia and international actors are now shifting their focus on nuclear hazards in the marine environment.
The NDEP nuclear projects are administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is the only international financial institution with a nuclear safety mandate. The strength of the NDEP NW projects is their operating model, where the NDEP grants administered by the EBRD act as a catalyst for local and complementary national funding, including in-kind support from the beneficiaries.
The seminar was moderated by Mr. Jari Vilén, Ambassador for Barents and Northern Dimension, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Experts from more than 10 countries and EU institutions were in attendance.
The Expert Seminar was opened with official greetings from the NDI, followed by greetings from Ms. Petra Gombalova (Head of Unit, EEAS), and Mr. Adonai Herrera-Martinez (Director of Environmental Funds, EBRD). Ms. Gombalova brought positive news to the seminar from the EBRD Donors' Meeting the week before, where the extension of the Environment Fund's mandate was well received for further discussions. Mr. Herrera-Martinez stressed in his greeting that the key to addressing such large-scale global problems is multilateral cooperation.
The five expert presentations shed light on the topic of the nuclear waste cleanup in the Arctic from various perspectives. The speakers shared the view that the Northern Dimension is a natural and functional platform for this type of multilateral cooperation, which has produced excellent results.
Mr. Simon Evans (Head of NDEP NW, EBRD) gave an overview of the ND Environmental Partnership’s nuclear security program on the EBRD agenda. Mr. Evans noted that complementary national funds are essential for sustainable project implementation. He also underlined that knowledge sharing and collaboration between the bodies implementing the projects has proven to be essential.
Mr. Mario Lazzeri (Head, International Affairs and Project Coordination) from the Italian radioactive waste management company Sogin presented the recent EU-funded “Feasibility study and preparation for the implementation of an action plan concerning the safe and secure management or disposal of sunken radioactive objects in the Arctic Sea”. The feasibility study identified two nuclear submarines, K-27 and K-159 as the most critical objects calling for lifting and dismantling. Mr. Lazzeri further emphasized that it is crucial that Russia will establish the necessary legal and regulatory framework for the management of the sunken objects. The international cooperation is important in the management of this legacy, too.
Mr. Anatoly Grigoriev (Head of International Technical Assistance Project, Rosatom) presented the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom’s current activities and plans for dealing with Arctic nuclear waste, including the projects implemented in Andreeva Bay, Gremikha, Lepse and Saida. These projects have resulted in the decommissioning of 120 nuclear submarines during the past 20 years. Mr. Grigoriev agreed with the previous speaker that establishing the regulatory framework is the precondition for future projects on the nuclear cleanup of sunken objects. He informed the audience that the Russian Federation has already passed several governmental resolutions to address this issue and that the legislative work is continuing.
Mr. Ingar Amundsen (Head of Section, International Nuclear Safety, DSA) from the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority addressed the cooperation between Norway and Russia in nuclear safety and legacy issues. Mr. Amundsen described how this bilateral cooperation has focused both on concrete nuclear cleanup work and on regulatory cooperation. Important areas of cooperation have been for example the four international emergency exercises and expeditions to sunken objects that have shed light on the condition of hazardous objects such as K-27 and K-159.
Finally, Mr. Alexandre Gorbatchev, Counsellor for nuclear energy and technologies in the Embassy of France to Russia, discussed the bilateral cooperation between France and Russia in implementing nuclear waste management measures on the Kola Peninsula, and its synergies with multilateral initiatives. For example, findings of bilateral projects on the alarming state of nuclear core materials used in the Arctic motivated the launching of the above-mentioned feasibility study on the management of sunken objects in the Arctic. Mr. Gorbatchev also noted that the equipment and infrastructure built in the bilateral projects could be used in the dismantling of K-27 and K-159.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Vilén thanked the speakers for their informative presentations, which highlighted the results achieved in nuclear waste management and the challenges for the future. Mr. Vilén emphasized the importance of international co-operation, especially appreciating Russia's willingness to work on the common challenge. Mr. Vilén concluded that the discussion on the topic will certainly continue during Russia's presidency of the Arctic Council starting next May and Finland's forthcoming presidency of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.
The ND Future Forum on Curbing Black Carbon Emissions in the Northern Dimension Area was held as an online event on November 24, 2020. It brought together over 60 participants from 15 countries.
The Northern Dimension Institute NDI co-organized the Forum with the EU-funded Action on Black Carbon,which is currently finalizing a roadmap for reducing black carbon emissions in the Arctic. The Forum had two complementary purposes: to feed research-based knowledge to decision-making which is the core of the NDI’s work, and to gather input from various stakeholders to the Action’s roadmap.
The program of the Forum consisted of two thematic sessions, each of which included a keynote speech followed by a commentary panel. The ND partners EC/EEAS, Norway, Russia and Iceland, the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership and the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution brought their greetings and emphasized the importance of the topic. Watch the greeting video here >
Strategies to reduce the environmental impact of black carbon emissions
The first session discussed the strategies to reduce the environmental impact of black carbon emissions. The keynote speech by Dr Mikael Hilden (Director of the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE and a consortium member in the EU-funded Action on Black Carbon in the Arctic) addressed the multiple pathways needed to reduce emissions of black carbon. Watch the keynote speech here >
Dr Hildén stressed that due to the complexity of black carbon, international cooperation and coordination is needed to identify emission sources, to monitor emissions, and to develop technologies and policy measures to curb emissions. Concrete steps include the harmonization of measurement criteria and data exchange, joint RDI for low emission technologies and practices, and eventually, joint policy development at a transnational level.
International cooperation and coordination needed to curb emissions
The commentary panel highlighted the need for international regulation and cooperation to curb black carbon emissions, pointing to the complexities associated with black carbon and its measurement in a standardized manner. In the lack of binding international regulation, not all countries are committed to reporting their emissions, and the lack of measurement standards undermines the international comparability of data.
The panel further demonstrated that policy steps to reduce black carbon emissions are currently taken in, for example, the EU Clean Air Policy. It was shown that the reduction of black carbon emissions would bring not only environmental benefits but also economic ones, thereby contributing to welfare development. Therefore, even more ambitious emission reduction goals would be needed.
At the same time, the panellists pointed that international coordination needs to be combined with local action, as countries and regions even within the ND area are at very different stages of development as to their environmental policies concerning, for example, decarbonization of transport.
Health effects of black carbon emissions
The second session focused on the health effects of black carbon emissions in the Northern Dimension area. The keynote speech was delivered by Dr Raimo O. Salonen, Chief Medical Officer, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). In his presentation, Dr Salonen discussed the health effects of exposure to emissions and measures needed to reduce long-term exposure. These include the identification of areas of high exposure to particles, and informing the residents about local air pollution problems.
Dr Salonen further noted to the variety in people’s exposure to black carbon emissions, as road traffic may be the key source of emissions in urban areas, and small-scale combustion in the rural areas.
Tackling the problem of exposure to emissions from small-scale wood combustion
The international commentary panel discussed how to tackle the issue of black carbon domestically and internationally to reduce its negative implications to human health. It was noted that the health implications of black carbon are manifold, varying from the most obvious ones such as respiratory diseases to less obvious ones such as the Alzheimer disease. The panellists also pointed out that not all emissions are location-borne, including black carbon emissions from marine traffic that are “imported” to, for example, the Arctic.
The panellists pointed to positive policy outcomes in the reduction of black carbon emissions, such as a substantial decrease in emissions from traffic in Finland in the recent decade. At the same time, such positive development has not taken place as to the emissions from residential and other small-scale combustion. Indeed, the panellists raised the issue of wood combustion as an area where it is necessary to combine global coordination with local action. Tackling the problem of exposure to emissions from small-scale wood combustion is challenging in remote areas, such as rural settlements in the Russian North, where wood combustion is the only source of energy and heating available for the majority of the population.
A global approach to the challenges is needed while acting both regionally and nationally
Finally, it was noted that black carbon cannot be seen in isolation, as it is only one of the harmful substances negatively affecting human health. Initiatives, such as the introduction of cleaner fuels for ships, may provide public health benefits via reduction of sulphur emission, but increase black carbon emissions. Therefore, a concerted effort is needed to curb both sulphur and black carbon emissions.
The concluding remarks of the Forum were made by Jari Vilén, Ambassador for Barents and Northern Dimension, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, who noted that a global approach to the challenges we are facing is needed. At the same time, it is important to act both regionally and nationally.
The energy supply in the Russian Federation is characterized by a large number of remote northern settlements which are powered by imported fossil fuel, mostly diesel fuel. Therefore, sustainable development of remote northern territories is a major challenge. One solution to this challenge is to increase the use of wind energy. The replacement of a majority of diesel power plants with wind power plants would reduce economic costs and environmental risks, and thus contribute to the sustainable development in the High North.
Recommendation 1. To invest in the construction of wind power plants in the High North with the plant capacity corresponding the demand of electrical capacity of the settlement. Initial investments represent the largest part of the wind power plant costs. These investments are paid off by using a natural renewable energy source.
Recommendation 2. To support research on the icing of wind power plants and the development of de-icing systems. Solving the icing problem is the key to the sustainable operation of wind turbines in the north.
Recommendation 3. To integrate wind power plants to existing power supply networks to create a smart grid system. This system would eliminate the risk of energy shortages caused by possible wind instability.
Recommendation 4. To raise public awareness about the benefits of clean and renewable energy through distributing information on television, organizing training courses for companies, and providing education in schools and universities.
Global warming will accelerate the melting of ice and release some of the Arctic territories for shipping. On the one hand, it will have a positive impact on world trade but on the other hand, the risk of ship accidents and environmental disasters will increase. In the period from 2010 to 2019, 512 ship accidents in Arctic Circle Waters were reported, not without damage to the environment. However, today's legal structure of the shipping industry makes it virtually impossible to make the ultimate owners of ships liable and responsible for environmental costs. There is no international regulation that would pressure the shipping industry to increase its corporate responsibility and to make more sustainable decisions of using clean fuels, improving the environmental friendliness of ships, or recycling old ships.
Recommendation 1. To improve availability and transparency of ultimate beneficial ownership data in the shipping industry.
Recommendation 2. To develop mechanisms to hold the ship's ultimate beneficial owners liable for maritime incidents such as oil spills.
Recommendation 3. To design anti-avoidance rules applicable to the use of flags of convenience and last-voyage flags (in the spirit of anti-tax avoidance rules).
Session 2 1 pm - 3.30 pm CET Living in the New Normal after COVID-19 The NDI coordinates the afternoon session, a live panel discussion focusing on broader societal impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic, e.g. how did the COVID-19 change the world and how does this change relate to other societal trends. The discussion will be streamed online.
The Future Forum event consists of two sessions, each of which includes a keynote presentation and a commentary panel.
Session 1: Strategies to reduce the environmental impact of black carbon emissions
Keynote presentation 'The multiple pathways needed to reduce emissions of black carbon affecting the Arctic' by Dr. Mikael Hildén, Director, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), followed by an international commentary panel.
Session 2: Health effects of black carbon emissions and ways of reducing them
Keynote presentation 'Health effects of black carbon in the Northern Dimension area' by Dr. Raimo O. Salonen, Chief Medical Officer, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), followed by an international commentary panel.
Northern Dimension Institute Policy Brief 2 - January 2019
The curbing of black carbon emissions offers many benefits for the Arctic
Black carbon emissions are a global problem with special significance for arctic regions Temperatures in the Arctic are rising clearly faster than the global average temperatures. The main reason are increasing amount of greenhouse gases, but black carbon, emitted from incomplete burning, contributes to the warming. It may cause some 20-25% of the warming in the Arctic, both through warming of the atmosphere and by accelerating melting due to reduced reflection of sunrays reaching ice and snow. Important sources of black carbon include transport, residential burning of coal and biomass, oil and gas flaring, and open burning of biomass from wildfires or the open burning of agricultural waste.
The health effects of black carbon emissions are significant. Black carbon is a component of the fine particles that have serious adverse health effects globally. The combined effects on the climate and health have motivated the Arctic Council and the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership to pay special attention to ways of reducing emissions of black carbon. The actions to reduce emissions need to be replicated globally for the positive effects to take effect. Globally residential combustion and transport emissions dominate. In the Arctic region emissions from oil and gas production are also important.
Author Prof. Mikael Hildén, Finnish Environment Institute and the Strategic Research Council
NDI Lead coordinator: Prof. Riitta Kosonen
*The Northern Dimension Institute (NDI) organized the Northern Dimension Future Forum on Environment: Black carbon and climate change in the European Arctic on 19 November 2018 in Brussels. The event gathered researchers, top experts, decision-makers and NGOs to discuss the future challenges as well as solutions available to avert the black carbon impacts of future climate change.
The Northern Dimension Institute (NDI) organized the Northern Dimension Future Forum on Environment: Black carbon and climate change in the European Arctic on 19 November 2018 in Brussels. The event gathered researchers, top experts, decision-makers and NGOs to discuss the future challenges as well as solutions available to avert the black carbon impacts of future climate change. The event featured two knowledge arenas consisting of brief researcher presentations followed by comments and a moderated discussion. Ms. Cathy Smith from Speak-Easy moderated the event.
Professor Riitta Kosonen, Director of the Center for Markets in Transition, Aalto University, and the Lead Coordinator of the NDI gave an overview of the role of NDI in the Northern Dimension policy and supporting the work of the four Northern Dimension Partnerships. In November 2018, NDI organized four Northern Dimension Future Forums in close collaboration with the ND Partnerships focusing on the jointly selected topics. The work is planned to continue through a three-year-project on a Northern Dimension Think Tank.
Riitta Kosonen, NDI Lead Coordinator, opening the event
Ms. Ewa Manik, Associate Manager from EBRD, Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) described the NDEP as a successful cooperation model to tackle global climate challenges through real concrete cooperation actions. The partnership is extended to 2021 with over 342 MEUR already contributed to the NDEP Support Fund and over 353 MEUR (Russia 60 MEUR, EU 84 MEUR) pledged.
Ewa Manik, EBRD, NDEP
In her keynote speech, Ms. Yvon Slingenberg, Director of the DG Climate Action of the European Commission, underlined multilateral rules-based collaboration and diplomacy as key approaches to engage all the stakeholders in achieving the Paris Agreement long-term goals. EU fights climate change through both domestic actions and international cooperation aiming at ambitious goals on energy efficiency, transforming the industry, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, cleaner and more sustainable transport, cities and communities. EU envisages environmental cooperation with Russia in the G20 framework, through concrete climate action projects and people-to-people cooperation such as the Northern Dimension initiatives.
Yvon Slingenberg, DG Clima
In the Knowledge Arena 1, researchers focused on highlighting the policy arenas for reducing black carbon. Professor Mikael Hildén, Director of the Climate Change Research Programme in the Finnish Environment Institute and Program Director of the Strategic Research Program on a Climate-Neutral and Resource-Scarce Finland, Academy of Finland, introduced the Arctic Council actions in reducing black carbon emission. In case the good experiences and innovations are replicated efficiently, the recommended collective goal of 25 - 33 % reduction by 2025 is achievable. Ms. Seita Romppanen from UEF Law School University of Eastern Finland featured the legal dimensions of reducing black carbon emissions. National Emissions Ceiling Directive is so far the only EU legal instrument addressing directly black carbon emissions. In order to ensure proper legal regulation on black carbon, better policy coordination, synergies and specific measures are needed at both EU and global level. In his presentation, Mr. Russel Shearer, representing Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) of the Arctic Council, highlighted the EU Action on black carbon in the Arctic. In his presentation Mr. Shardul Agrawala, Head of the Environment and Economy Integration Division, OECD, focused on economic consequences of outdoor air pollution. Based on the OECD estimations, health impacts and costs of inaction to reduce the black carbon are significant in the Arctic with premature deaths as the most dangerous consequences.
In the moderated discussion, the commentators Ms. Marie-Anne Coninsx, Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs of the EU and Ms. Susanne Lindahl from DG Environment underlined that the challenge is to bridge the available knowledge and implementation of the needed actions. There is still need for better coordination of the legal regulation addressing black carbon, adopting new technologies into use, applying measurements, monitoring and concrete actions.
Knowledge Arena 1: Shardul Agrawala, Russel Shearer, Mikael Hildén, Seita Romppanen, Marie-Anne Coninsx and Susanne Lindahl
In the Knowledge Arena 2, speakers focused on actions in practice. In his presentation, Associate Professor, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen from the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki and Strategic Research Program on Security, Academy of Finland, indicated that reducing gas flaring of the Russian oil and gas industry has critical role in curbing black carbon emission in the Arctic. He underlined e.g. environmental certificates and more reliance on soft means to influence environmental investments and international cooperation in the renewable energy. Ms. Patti Bruns, from the Arctic Council, Executive Secretary for the Working Groups of Arctic Contaminant Action Program (ACAP) and Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR) gave on overview of practical actions and lessons learnt in reducing environmental risks and prevent pollution of the Arctic environment. These include for example an Arctic Black Carbon Case Studies Platform and concrete actions on community based black carbon and public health assessments. Cases studies are a «one stop shop» for best practices and lessons learned from black carbon demonstration projects from across the Arctic region. Ms. Soffia Gudmundsdottir, from the Arctic Council, the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment working group (PAME), introduced the key achievements and projects underway including the first comprehensive Arctic shipping activity database. Mr. Jaakko Henttonen, Special Adviser on the Arctic Environment for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, underlined the NDEP as a successful platform bringing together the key stakeholders to discuss and find concrete solutions in environmental projects in North-West Russia.
The Knowledge Arena 2 ended with a moderated discussion with the commentators. Ms. Stine Svarva, Counsellor for Environment, Mission of Norway to EU pointed out that reducing black carbon emissions are high in the agenda in Norway. Mr. Jari Vilen, Senior Advisor for Arctic Policy, European Commission, emphasized need for urgent measures globally and ensuring that the Arctic is included in the EU mainstream policy. Mr. Dennis Moskalenko from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Russia commented that the challenges and interests are common for all the countries and the Northern Dimension framework provides a good platform for sharing new ideas and finding joint solutions in reducing black carbon also in the future.
Knowledge Arena 2: Cathy Smith, Soffia Gudmundsdottir, Patti Bruns, Jaakko Henttonen, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Jari Vilen and Stine Svarva.
Mr. Alistair Clark, Managing Director, Environment & Sustainability, EBRD, NDEP, underlined that the joint projects under the NDEP consist of true partnerships between financial partners, donors, countries and local stakeholders, and are easily scalable for other partnerships.
Alistair Clark, EBRD, NDEP
According to the concluding remarks by Ms. Sannamaaria Vanamo (Deputy Director General, Department for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland) the forum proved that collaboration, direct discussions and people-to-people communication between decision-makers, civil servants and researchers are important and particularly in the politically challenging situation today. ND partnerships provide an excellent opportunity for the equal footing partners EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland to make a difference and clean the air together.
Sannamaaria Vanamo, MFA, Finland
The event was organized by the Northern Dimension Institute together with the Northern Dimension Partnership on Environment and financed by the European Commission/DG NEAR and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The Northern Dimension Institute is a an open university network, which is coordinated by the Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, as the Lead Coordinator in cooperation with the Northern (Arctic) Federal University and the St Petersburg State University of Economics in Russia.
DATE: Monday 19 November 2018, at 13:00 – 17:00 VENUE: Thon Hotel EU, Rue de la Loi 75, 1040 Brussels, Belgium
Northern Dimension Future Forum on Environment: Black carbon and Climate Change in the European Arctic brings together European decision-makers and top experts to discuss the challenges and solutions available to tackle climate change by reducing black carbon emissions.
Temperatures in the Arctic are rising clearly faster than the global average temperatures. Black carbon, that may cause some 20-25% of the warming in the Arctic and has also detrimental health impacts, has received special attention by intergovernmental bodies, national governments, NGOs and academia. For example, the Arctic Council, Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership, Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 all aim at reducing black carbon emissions.
The Forum will showcase solutions-oriented initiatives and actions underway to reduce black carbon emissions and inspire deeper collaboration between research and governments for evidence-based policy-making and actions. The event features two knowledge arenas consisting of expert interventions followed by decision maker comments and a moderated discussion. The Forum will underline the opportunities and potential to reduce black carbon emissions fast by adopting already existing effective technological solutions and policies, thus mitigating climate change globally, and particularly in the European Arctic regions.
Participants will include representatives of national governments, EU institutions, European Parliament, intergovernmental organizations, international financial institutions as well as business, academia and civil society.
The Northern Dimension Future Forums will focus on issues, trends and challenges that will shape the future developments in the Northern Dimension (ND) priority themes (environment, transport & logistics, culture, and health & social wellbeing) throughout the ND area and need to be somehow addressed in all the ND countries and beyond. Such issues include, for example, role of creative industries in renewing innovation and industries, role of renewable energy, automatization of transport, increasing antimicrobial resistance of bacteria, and digitalization as an overarching theme to name just a few relevant examples. The ND Future Forums will facilitate decision makers in tackling future challenges and pinning down future potential thereby contributing to sustainable economic progress in the ND area.
Northern Dimension Future Forums in 2018:
Creating a better world through cultural and creative crossovers DATE: Thu 15th Nov 2018, at 12.00-16.00 VENUE: Hotel Radisson Sonya, Liteyny Prospekt 5/19, St. Petersburg, Russia
Registration is open and can be found here (link).
Emerging trade routes between Europe and Asia – Impacts of China’s Belt and Road Initiative on Northern Europe DATE: Tue 20th November 2018, at 9.00 - 14.00 VENUE: Thon Hotel EU, Rue de la Loi 75, Brussels, Belgium
The ND Future Forums will be organized by ND Institute in cooperation with the ND Partnerships. The events are organized with support of the European Commission and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The Forums are free of charge and open to everyone interested in the topic.
Do you work in the field of bioeconomy and are you interested in how to integrate youth perspectives into your everyday work? Are you looking for innovative solutions to foster the necessary transition from a fossil-based to a bio-based society and economy? Are you a member of a youth organisation with a strong engagement in the field of bioeconomy and sustainability?
The Baltic Leadership Programme on Youth and Bioeconomy addresses the need to better integrate younger generations into the field of bioeconomy. Youth (up to 30 years of age) are vital for renewing and innovating the sector, which is necessary in the transition from a fossil-based to a bio-based society/economy. Today, however, there is a lack of necessary links and methods for attracting and involving youth.
In response to this, the Swedish Institute, together with its cooperation partners, is developing a training programme to tackle the challenges of youth participation in the bioeconomy sector.
Main cornerstones of the programme
Inclusion and cooperation
Peer learning and mentoring
Stakeholder involvement and multi-actor participation
Complex thinking (sustainability and stakeholder models – setting up interlinkages)
Communicating complex ideas
How do I register?
The application period is 29 June–22 August 2018. Follow the link to submit your application. For more information contact Gabor Schneider, gabor.schneider(at)si.se, Tel: +46-8-453 78 59, Mobile: +46-732-318521
Is my organisation eligible?
The programme is targeting representatives of youth organisations as well as those of organisations working with bioeconomy in the Baltic Sea Region. We look forward to receiving applications from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Iceland as well as the German states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg.
Digital Kick Off: 24 October 2018, (13–14.30 CET) Module 1: 21–23 November 2018 in Stockholm Online Session: 10 January 2019 (13.30–16.30 CET) Module 2: 21–23 January 2019 in Vilnius
Information and networking days on the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020, Challenge "Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency & Raw Materials" - 2019 calls - will take place on 11 and 12 September 2018 in Brussels in the European Commission's Charlemagne building, rue de la Loi 170.
The event targets potential applicants to the 2019 calls for project proposals under the Horizon 2020 Challenge 5 "Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials".
Finland’s Chairmanship of the Baltic Sea Protection Commission (Helsinki Commission HELCOM) started in the beginning of July. The key task of the two-year Chairmanship is to update the Baltic Sea Action Plan launched in 2007. Measures should be included that enable to achieve a good environmental status for the Baltic Sea by 2030.
On the Finnish initiative HELCOM will prepare a regional nutrient recycling strategy for the Baltic Sea. The aim of the strategy is that valuable nutrients are in efficient use and prevent them from being lost to waters. Practical measures will be included in the Action Plan to reduce nutrient inputs.
Climate change will maintain, or even increase, eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. It will also have impacts on the distribution of living organisms and attaining the objectives set for the protection. The work of HELCOM must be further strengthened to understand the impacts and minimise harm and damage. Climate change and adaptation will be one of the key issues in updating the Action Plan. HELCOM activities are to be linked to a wider context for work on sustainable development, i.e. implementing of the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.
Nordic Council of Ministers and Nordic Council of Ministers Secretariat have published the Nordic Bioeconomy Programme: 15 Action Points for Sustainable Change, which combines environmental, social and economic ambitions for a more sustainable Region. The bioeconomy is of fundamental importance to the national economies of the Nordic countries, and especially important for rural development in large parts of the Region. The programme aims to create new industries and value chains and to facilitate and guide the transition of bio-based industries into technology advanced industries, and to optimise the production and value creation of biomass. The programme sets out a vision for the Nordic bioeconomy based on four pillars:
competitive bio-based industries
sustainable resource management
resilient and diverse ecosystems
inclusive economic development
To reach this vision, the programme defines 15 action points under three thematic areas: Innovate – Accelerate – Network. The focus is on development of new policies on regional, national and Nordic level, for increased funding, better education, labelling and certificates, bioeconomy clusters and several other areas. The programme also contains an appendix with sustainability principles that can be seen as a step towards developing common ground and good practices for a sustainable bioeconomy in the Nordic Region.
Nordic Council of Ministers has published a reprint of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ State of the Nordic Region 2018 about the Nordic Bioeconomy.
Abstract: The Rapidly Developing Nordic Bioeconomy is a reprint of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ State of the Nordic Region 2018. The new bioeconomy, and the general shift from a fossil-based to a bio-based economy, is an area with vast potential for the entire Nordic Region, although it is more relevant to some geographical areas than to others.
The publication maps the scale and distribution of bio-based industries, such as forestry, fisheries, aquaculture and biogas production and contains informative and concise description of the Nordic Bioeconomy.
The report Baltic 2030: Bumps on the Road provides an overview of the 2030 Agenda implementation in the Baltic Sea Region, aimed at informing strategy and prioritisation discussions for national and regional collaboration. For each of the region’s eleven countries, performance on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is examined and five selected SDGs are discussed at the indicator level. Based on this analysis, the authors recommend seven avenues for action where greater collaboration in the region can support SDG achievement. The report was commissioned by the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and is jointly published by CBSS and the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM). It was drafted by the advisory firm Nordic Sustainability and follows the previous Bumps on the Road to 2030 report published by the NCM in 2017.
Raising awareness of climate change and its impacts among young people of Northern Dimension regions - 2018 Call for Proposals
Contributing to the environmental education of young people in the Northern Dimension regions , thus increasing awareness of the population in the environmental issues and ensuring thoughtful handling of the environmental challenges
Deadline: 21/05/2018 at 15:30 (Brussels date and time)
HELCOM released in March 2018 the most comprehensive assessment of maritime activities in the Baltic Sea region currently available – covering distribution of activities at sea, developments over time, related environmental issues as well as future perspectives and scenarios. The vast number of activities addressed include operational and accidental pollution from maritime traffic, fisheries, aquaculture, offshore energy production, cables and pipelines, submerged hazardous objects, and leisure boating.
The first shipment of spent nuclear fuel left the base in Andreeva Bay in June 2017, marking a crucial milestone in overcoming the legacy of the former Soviet Northern Fleet and its nuclear-powered submarines.
Under an international initiative financed by the Nuclear Window of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) over 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies, which are currently stored at Andreeva Bay, will be retrieved, packaged and removed from the site. The process is being carried out by SevRAO, part of Russia’s state atomic energy corporation, Rosatom.
The Nuclear Window is part of the NDEP’s Support Fund, which was set up in July 2002 by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to pool contributions from donors for the improvement of the environment in north-west Russia.
The spent nuclear fuel comes from over 100 reactors from more than 50 nuclear submarines and has been stored at Andreeva Bay for the past 35 years. The radioactive material is currently held in dry storage units, some of which are damaged and leaking. The base was closed in 1992 and poses a serious environmental risk.
The strategy for removing the spent fuel from the dry storage units was developed by Russia and international experts under funding from the United Kingdom in 2002, and included building an enclosure over the dry storage units, retrieval of the spent fuel using a machine to provide protection for staff at all times, and repacking the spent fuel into new canisters. The canisters are subsequently transferred to specialised 40-tonne casks for further transportation.
The casks will be stored in the so-called accumulation pad and then transported to the pier by a purpose-built 50-tonne trolley. A specially designed pier crane will load them onto the Rossita, a ship built in – and financed by – Italy and designed to standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the transportation of spent nuclear fuel.
From Andreeva Bay the casks will be shipped by the Rossita to Murmansk. Here the cargo will be moved to purpose-built railway wagons and transported to its final destination, the nuclear reprocessing plant Mayak in Chelyabinsk near the Ural Mountains. Mayak has the necessary infrastructure and skilled resources for the final handling of the spent nuclear fuel.
This video tells the story of EBRD's and NDEP's work to help Russia overcome the legacy of the Soviet nuclear fleet.
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