Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – Helsinki Commission
HELCOM (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – Helsinki Commission) is the governing body of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, known as the Helsinki Convention. The Contracting Parties are Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.
HELCOM was established to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental cooperation. HELCOM’s vision for the future is a healthy Baltic Sea environment with diverse biological components functioning in balance, resulting in a good ecological status and supporting a wide range of sustainable economic and social activities.
HELCOM is an environmental policy maker for the Baltic Sea area by developing common environmental objectives and actions. It provides information about the state of and trends in the marine environment, the efficiency of measures to protect it and common initiatives and positions, which can form the basis for decision-making in other international fora. According to the specific needs of the Baltic Sea, HELCOM develops recommendations of its own and recommendations supplementary to measures imposed by other international organisations. Further, it ensures that HELCOM environmental standards are fully implemented by all parties throughout the Baltic Sea and its catchment area. Finally, HELCOM is also a coordinating body, ascertaining multilateral response in case of major maritime incidents.
One of the most important duties of the Helsinki Commission is to make Recommendations on measures to address certain pollution sources or areas of concern. These Recommendations are to be implemented by the Contracting Parties through their national legislation. Since the beginning of the 1980s HELCOM has adopted some 260 HELCOM Recommendations for the protection of the Baltic Sea.
HELCOM also follows up the implementation of the Convention and HELCOM Recommendations, facilitating the assessment of the status of implementation of required measures in the Contracting Parties, providing information on the effectiveness and gaps of the requirements.