The Baltic Sea is one of the largest brackish water bodies in the world. It is an especially sensitive sea, because it is a shallow and semi-enclosed body of water that receives a considerable load of pollutants from the surrounding societies. The pollution of the Baltic Sea has become such a significant problem for the people and the governments of the entire region that it has become one of the most important common environmental issues for countries in Northern Europe. Today’s environmental problems are, however, the collective result of political decisions made in the past. Hence there is an evident need to understand the current environmental changes of the Baltic Sea from historical and social perspectives.
Driving Forces for Environmental Policy-Making and Capacity Building in the Baltic Sea Region project explores the long-term development of national governance of water pollution and protection in the catchment and coastal area of the Baltic Sea from the late 19th to the 21st century. The study will focus on the three largest states in the Baltic Sea region (Sweden, Finland and Russia) but other countries will be taken into account as well. When, how and why did these states start to develop and adopt nation-wide strategies, policies and institutional tools to control inland and coastal water pollution? What were the driving forces and obstacles for water protection in capitalist and socialist states?
The Sea and the Cities project has studied the environmental history of urban water pollution and protection in the Baltic Sea region in the 19th and the 20th century. Altogether 13 cities and 40 students and senior scientists participated.
Approaches to the environmental history of the Baltic Sea project aims to study when, where and how the Baltic Sea was perceived to be endangered by pollution and eutrophication and who acted in order to protect the sea.
The research group directed by Simo Laakkonen has been the first one to start systematic studies on the environmental history of the Baltic Sea. Our aim is to study the 19th and 20th century environmental history of this unique and sensitive sea area on local, national and international level.