HELCOM Press Information
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On 25th April 2024, ministers and high-level representatives of Baltic Sea coastal states and the European Union will gather in Riga, Latvia at a joint meeting within the Latvian Chairmanship of HELCOM, for the 2024 Ministerial Meeting on the Baltic Sea Marine Environment. They will discuss the way forward in protecting the Baltic Sea marine environment.

Emphasizing the current state of the Baltic Sea and how it can be improved, the discussions will focus on leveraging the results of the latest HELCOM holistic assessment of the Baltic Sea (HOLAS 3) to further strengthen the scientific basis for determining key priorities and shaping the trajectory of future work.

“The Ministerial Meeting is the culmination of Latvia’s two-year Chairmanship of HELCOM. It has been an eventful and challenging period shaped by the current geopolitical landscape”, says Inga Bērziņa, Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia. “However, even in this tense period, we have been able to achieve the objectives of the Latvian Presidency, which are aimed at improving the state of the Baltic Sea environment," she continues. Latvia currently holds the rotating Chairmanship of HELCOM and is the proud host of the 2024 Ministerial Meeting as well as HELCOM’s 50th anniversary event, both taking place in Riga on 25 April 2024.

“Our primary goals during this Chairmanship have been to reinforce HELCOM’s position as an effective and well-functioning regional organization for regional cooperation even in unforeseen or force majeure situations, to implement the 2021 Baltic Sea Action Plan and to strengthen the role of regional cooperation in international ocean governance. I am gratified to note that we have met these objectives, with HELCOM continuing to fulfill its role as the key player in regional environmental cooperation and making notable progress in the ongoing implementation of the Action Plan,” says Evija Šmite, HELCOM Chair.

“This spring’s Ministerial Meeting will chart the course for HELCOM work over the next three years. “The main findings of HOLAS 3, summarized in the State of the Baltic Sea 2023 report, will impact the further implementation of the 2021 Baltic Sea Action Plan. They will inform the related decisions of Contracting Parties and help shape the policies of our organization as we progress towards the Plan’s target year of 2030,” says Rüdiger Strempel, HELCOM Executive Secretary.

The Meeting is expected to adopt a Ministerial Declaration reflecting the priorities and ambitions of HELCOM in working towards a healthier marine environment for the Baltic Sea, in line with the longstanding tradition of regional cooperation upheld by the organization.

The celebratory session of the 50th anniversary of the Helsinki Convention can be watched live if you register in advance. Apply by April 23 at this link.

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The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as the Helsinki Commission or HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. HELCOM has worked since 1974 to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region.

HELCOM is the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area,” more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.

The Helsinki Commission's member states are the contracting parties to the Helsinki Convention: Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Russia. Due to the current geopolitical situation, the EU and the Contracting Parties to HELCOM that are also member states of the EU (H9) have, however imposed a “strategic pause” in HELCOM operations. This pause entails the postponement of the meetings of all official HELCOM bodies, with meetings being carried out as so-called informal consultation sessions involving H 9 participants only and Russian involvement restricted to correspondence procedures.  

About Ministerial Meetings

Every three years, HELCOM arranges a Ministerial Meeting, gathering ministers responsible for environmental or maritime affairs from the Baltic Sea countries and the EU Commissioner for the Environment. These Meetings serve as crucial forums for engaging in shared discussions and reaching agreements at a high political level. They further reinforce HELCOM’s objectives in protecting the Baltic marine environment.

Ministerial meetings result in the adoption of political declarations, through which Contracting Parties commit to taking further actions to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea and agree on the future agenda for HELCOM. The declarations complement the Helsinki Convention and HELCOM Recommendations.

About HELCOM Holistic Assessments

HELCOM carries out holistic assessments every six years. They focus on how the Baltic Sea ecosystem is doing and, importantly, on following up on how well the agreements – namely, the measures set in the 2021 HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) – are functioning. The holistic assessments cover ‘moments’ in time over the dynamic life history of the Baltic Sea.

The third HELCOM holistic assessment (HOLAS 3) focuses on the years 2016-2021 and includes results at various levels of detail, including monitoring data, indicator reports and thematic assessments.


Johanna Laurila
Communications Advisor, HELCOM
+358 40 647 3996

Communication division
Ministry of Environmental Protection and
Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia
+371 20 200 305