Participants from around the Baltic at Cities Forum

Photo: Tina Nyfors

Mr Lari Pitkä-Kangas, deputy mayor of Malmö, Sweden, presented the city’s storm water solutions and said we need to rethink the way we build cities.

About 70 participants from Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Sweden participated in the Cities Forum “Benefits of water protection – a range of concrete measures for local actors”. The Forum brought up examples of concrete water protection measures done by local actors. The Cities Forum was organized as part of the official opening of the Gulf of Finland Year 2014. In the opening words, the mayor of Helsinki, Mr. Jussi Pajunen, said that a clean environment contributes to all dimensions of sustainability; economic, social and ecological. Mr Pajunen also mentioned the Port of Helsinki and their decision to accept waste water from cruise ships free of charge as a good example of concrete action.

Action at the local level is crucial

The importance of action at the local level was emphasized by Mr Pekka Kansanen, Director General, City of Helsinki Environment Centre. Mr Kansanen referred to the The Gulf of Finland Year and said it is a joint initiative of 3 countries, but reminded the audience of that cities and municipalities is where much of the concrete action takes place.

In relation to concrete action at the local level, the monetary benefits of water protection are crucial to bring up, since most of the time only the costs are presented, without comparing them with the benefits in the economic calculations. There are methods to equate the benefits to the costs, which was the topic of Professor Kari Hyytiäinen who is a professor in the Economics of Baltic Sea Protection at the University of Helsinki.

Photo: Tina Nyfors

Storm waters, food and waste water

Furthermore, the Forum brought up concrete water protection measures in relation to storm waters, waste water reception in ports, food and waste water treatment plants. The theme storm waters and whether they are a threat or possibility as well as where to find investment money was discussed by Mr. Mika Rekola, University of Helsinki and Mr Lari Pitkä-Kangas, City of Malmö.

Waste water reception in ports and preparedness for the special area status of the Baltic Sea was were dealt with by Ms. Anita Mäkinen, Finnish Transport Safety Agency and Mr. Kimmo Mäki, Port of Helsinki.

Food and the impact it has on the Baltic Sea was the topic of Ms. Sirpa Kurppa, MTT Agrifood Research Finland and Mr. Petteri Huuska, City of Helsinki Environment Centre.

Waste water treatment plants and clean tech was discussed by Ms. Saijariina Toivikko, Finnish Water Utilities Association (FIWA) and Mr Tommi Fred, Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority

The seminar was concluded by a cities think-thank where the chair Ms Päivi Kippo-Edlund and the moderators Ms Lotta Nummelin and Ms Marjukka Porvari summed up the discussions.

After the Cities Forum, the official opening ceremony of the Gulf of Finland Year 2014 was held.

The Cities Forum was organized by CITYWATER and the Baltic Sea Challenge network and it could also be followed online. The presentations can be accessed here.