“BONUS a good example of successful cooperation”

 12 Jan 2012

“BONUS is a good example of how Baltic Sea research cooperation can be done successfully. The coordination of the BONUS programme serves as a good role model for organising international cooperation,” says the Minister of Environment of Sweden, Lena Ek. Minister Ek visited the Secretariat of the Joint Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme BONUS in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Minister Ek has been following the development and activities of BONUS for years. In her earlier role as a Member of the European Parliament, Minister Ek had a pivotal role in the process that led to the European Parliament and European Council’s co-decision that launched BONUS in June 2010. According to Ek, the protection of the Baltic Sea is a key area for joint vision and cooperation across the Baltic Sea countries. “For example, we need to work together to ensure EU resources for funding Baltic Sea protection. Competition for funding in the EU is severe, so we need to proactively secure the support necessary for the Baltic Sea protection action,” Ek said. She further specified that spring 2012 is a critical period to act as the multiannual financial planning is being negotiated in the EU.

The Minister of Environment of Sweden, Lena Ek (right) and the new Executive Secretary of HELCOM, Monika Stankiewicz (middle) visited the Secretariat of the Joint Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme BONUS in Helsinki. Executive Director Kaisa Kononen introduced BONUS aims and activities.

Executive Director Kaisa Kononen introduced BONUS' aims and activities, highlighting the accessibility of knowledge and its use in political as well as wider societal decision-making. “Only by integrating science into institutional decision-making, including policy creation, can we hope for a better future of the Baltic Sea,” added Kononen.

BONUS works closely with the Baltic Sea Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM). “In HELCOM’s work, we have already made good use of BONUS research that is available through BONUS+ projects. For example, the projects ECOSUPPORT and HYPER have contributed to the review of the ecological targets of eutrophication of the Baltic Sea Action Plan (TARGREV project), taking into account climate change and providing a sound basis for the revision of the Baltic Sea Action Plan’s nutrient reduction scheme,” said the new Executive Secretary of HELCOM, Monika Stankiewicz, who will be commencing her work officially in February 2012.

The BONUS+ project BEAST is interacting closely with HELCOM as noted by Stankiewicz. BEAST has provided input to creating core indicators for hazardous-substances-related biological effects needed by the HELCOM’s CORESET project to ensure up-to-date information on the state of the Baltic Sea.

Minister Ek was interested to explore how research can be made more accessible for decision-makers. “How can we reduce or avoid the gaps that are hindering the information flow to decision-makers?” she asked. Ms Stankiewicz noted that a key role here is with organising joint fora where the scientific community and end-users such as decision-makers can come together to discuss critical issues and share knowledge. HELCOM acts as such a platform for meetings between scientists, decision-makers and politicians. Ms Kononen noted that this goes straight to the core of the ethos of the annual BONUS Forums. “In the future, we would welcome even closer collaboration and joint activities between the BONUS Forums and the HELCOM platforms to enhance the science-policy interlinkages to their full potential,” added Kononen.

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Text: Riitta Tirronen
Photo: Andris Andrusaitis, BONUS

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