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The 19th International Environmental Forum “Baltic Sea Day” was held last week in St. Petersburg, Russia. Around 500 participants gathered on 22–23 March to discuss the environmental state of the sea and local and regional solutions to improving it. The organization of the forum is supported by HELCOM.

During the plenary session, representative of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Nuritdin Inamov emphasized particularly the need of introducing innovations in the existing systems, and having a strategic approach to the occurring ecological problems. Further, the views on the current state of the Baltic Sea and highlights on the spheres where the improvement is seen crucial in the upcoming years were provided by representatives of HELCOM and Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS).

The forum “Baltic Sea Day” brought together many cities of the Baltic Sea Region, local and regional organizations working on sustainability issues to share and discuss challenges and formulate local needs. Throughout several organized roundtables, participants could share views on various topics: water management and urban development issues, maritime spatial planning, international cooperation in the projects, as well as ecological education.

The roundtable “Sustainable Water Management to protect the marine environment from land based pollution” focused on the topic of the reduction of nutrient loads to the Baltic Sea. With the presentation of HELCOM’s vision of this challenge by Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky setting the basis for further presentations and discussions (similar presentation is available from IWAMA workshop), the roundtable introduced several local examples of minimizing pollution from the side of the wastewater management. Cases from Russian WWT facilities in St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk and Kaliningrad were followed by presentations of transnational projects offering guidelines, tools and tested pilots – the experience that can be used by plants in the region.

The IWAMA project was presented throughout the event in various capacities exemplifying different potential spheres for knowledge exchange and cooperation on the basis of what has been achieved in the project. During the discussion on the sustainable water management and its specific innovative tools, Björn Grönholm from the UBC Sustainable Cities Commission presented the Baltic Smart Water Hub as a platform for cooperation and knowledge exchange. As a practical example, a case of the wastewater treatment plant in Turku was presented inspiring the roundtable participants to invest in energy efficient solutions and consider producing energy on the facilities (general presentation of the Kakolanmäki plant is available from the IWAMA workshop). Further, Taavo Tenno from the University of Tartu introduced the overall situation in the sludge management sector in the Baltic Sea Region and presented several tools developed in IWAMA that will be publicly available to be used for improvement of local plants.

The capacity development that is done in the project was introduced by the Environmental center “ECAT-Kaliningrad”, a knowledge-based community of the IWAMA project. As this associated project partner actively contributes to the development of the Training Materials Package for wastewater treatment operators, they reminded the participants that many project materials will be available translated in Russian.

Our work in IWAMA continues, and it is always inspirational to see the demand in the outputs and communicate with potential end-users of the materials to be produced by the end of the project.

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