The endowed professorship in the economics of Baltic Sea conservation is already an established form of cooperation between the municipality and the University of Helsinki. Since 2011, the City of Helsinki has supported the research work of the University of Helsinki on the Baltic Sea with an endowed professorship. The professorship focuses on the cost-effectiveness of water conservation, the blue economy, as well as ecosystem services and effects on well-being.
Climate considerations and nature conservation are important for the City of Helsinki. The city has, among other things, brought forward the goal of carbon neutrality to 2030, and the new city strategy also emphasises responsibility for the Baltic Sea and its condition.
“In addition to the conservation ofthe Baltic Sea and nature conservation, the professorship in the economics ofBaltic Sea conservation also reflects other goals important for Helsinki.Active cooperation with higher education institutions and scientificcommunities is a key priority for us, and the University of Helsinki is, ofcourse, one of our important strategic partners. An active and internationallyrespected scientific community in Helsinki increases innovation and generatesnew entrepreneurship, brings visibility to the city and attracts internationalexperts,” says Mayor of Helsinki JuhanaVartiainen.
The City of Helsinki emphasises knowledge-based management of the city and aims to rely on the best independent researcher expertise in decision-making. Climate responsibility and nature conservation create opportunities for innovation and new business operations in Helsinki. It is important for Helsinki to promote the blue economy in a sustainable manner, while taking into account the sensitive and valuable marine environment. The blue economy is based on industries that make use of the marine environment, such as coastal tourism, shipping and fishing.
BalticSea Action Plan as the backbone of cooperation
At the City of Helsinki, the Baltic Sea cooperation with the University of Helsinki is coordinated by the Baltic Sea Challenge. In addition to Helsinki’s Baltic Sea Action Plan, it is responsible for stakeholder work with organisations working for the conservation of the Baltic Sea. Close cooperation between the Baltic Sea Challenge and the University of Helsinki has enabled, among other things, the use of research data and expertise by the city, educational and teaching cooperation and the joint UrbanEnvironment seminar series, which highlights current themes related to water conservation.
KariHyytiäinen started as the professor of the economics of Baltic Sea conservation in October 2013. The professorship has produced numerous wide-ranging and politically relevant studies as well as economic and socio-economic analyses of the prevention of eutrophication and invasive species, Finland’s Marine Strategy, oil spills, uncertain effects of climate change and HELCOM’s action plan, among others. The professorship has also enabled a significant increase in research funding in the field and has produced a large number of theses and practical project courses for master’s programmes.
“Many waterconservation measures that nurture the Baltic Sea, inland waters andgroundwater also promote climate and biodiversity objectives. There are alsosynergies in the other direction: many measures applied to combat the loss of biodiversityand slow down climate change also work in favour of the water systems. Duringthe coming professorship period, my goal will be to seek solutions andinstruments related to land use, consumption habits and new technologies thatwill allow the best possible realisation of these three goals,” saysHyytiäinen.
The professorship in the economics of Baltic Sea conservation is jointly funded by the City of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki. In the period of 2021–2026, the funding by the City of Helsinki amounts to a total of EUR 500,000 and that by the University of Helsinki to EUR 78,750. For the City of Helsinki, the funding plan was approved by the Environment and Permits sub-committee of the Urban Environment committee on 28 October 2021.
In the year 2007, Helsinki andTurku initiated the Baltic Sea Challenge that coordinates the Baltic Sea ActionPlan of the cities and the international network of organizations that havecommitted to protect their local waters, and to build and implement their ownBaltic Sea Action Plan. More than 300 organizations have already joined to thefree and open to all international network.
The University ofHelsinki is Finland’s largest and most multidisciplinary hub of research andteaching focused on the Baltic Sea, with related research and teaching carriedout in almost all of its faculties. The University has compiled a list of the Baltic Sea specialists working under its auspices on its website.In addition, research topics related to the Baltic Sea are presented in the University ofHelsinki’s Research Portal.