Successful water protection measures of the cities of Helsinki and Turku

The Finnish cities of Helsinki and Turku have had a common water protection plan since 2007 within the Baltic Sea Challenge. The challenge encourages all actors and organizations of the Baltic Sea region to create their own action plans to improve the state of the Baltic Sea. Helsinki and Turku have revised their plan twice after the initiation of the cooperation in 2007.

The water protection plan has been divided into five waves of action:

  • Clear coastal waters, which aims at reducing the loading by suspended solids and eutrophying nutrients of the Baltic Sea
  • Healthy marine ecosystems, which aims at reducing harmful substances, littering and underwater noise in the marine environment
  • Clean and safe water traffic, which aims at reducing and preventing the emissions of nutrients and harmful substances from various sizes of vessels
  • Systematic water area management, which aims at supplementing information on underwater nature in the marine areas of the cities and to implement principles of multifunctional use
  • Active Baltic Sea citizenship, which aims at increasing awareness of the state of the Baltic Sea and how to influence it, and strengthening the engagement of various stakeholders

With the purpose of continuous self-reflection and improvement, the cities have wished to evaluate their success in carrying out their water protection plan and the effectiveness of actions implemented according to the plan. Currently, the plan has been revised for the years 2019-2023. To support the current plan and the revising process of the plan for years 2024-2028, an evaluation process of the 2014-2018 plan was initiated.

Based on the evaluation, the cities performed well and many water protection measures were taken during 2014-2018. Many measures have improved locally the state of waters in the drainage basin of the Baltic Sea as well as the sea itself.

The cities had for example:

  • improved their sewer systems by reducing the amount of combined sewers to reduce the pressure of storm water in the wastewater treatment plants,
  • delivered their municipal sewage sludge to be utilized in biogas production,
  • arranged beach cleaning events to reduce marine littering and to involve citizens in the protection of the Baltic Sea and
  • implemented waste management fee to all international cruise ships arriving to the ports to decrease the amount of waste water ending up in the Baltic Sea.

The full evaluation report can be found here (in Finnish).


The evaluation was made by Viivi Kaasonen, M.Sc., who also wrote this summary.

Baltic Sea