Exploring the Northern Dimension

Cooperation in the Area of Climate Change Mitigation in the Barents Region continues


In May 2016, NordRegio approved funding of the project on Climate Change Mitigation in the Barents region from the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Arctic Programme. The project follows the Climate Change Action Plan for the Barents cooperation, which was adopted at the Meeting of the Environment Ministers of the BEAC, held in Inari in December 2013. The application was prepared in cooperation with the BEAC Working Group on Environment.

Norrbotten County Administration (Sweden) is the lead partner of the project. The network includes Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Finnish Ministry of Environment, Arctic Center in Rovaniemi and Ministry of Natural Resources of Arkhangelsk region. International Barents Secretariat is going to follow the project’s implementation, assist in coordination between Nordic and Russian partners and contribute to information dissemination.

The project has been granted 300.000 DKK. Co-financing from both Nordic and Russian partners is awaited. The funding will be allocated for networking activities, such as seminars, workshops and a study visit to Sweden, as well as mapping of sources of greenhouse gas emissions in a pilot settlement of Arkhangelsk region.

Cooperation on the Climate Change issues is aimed at development of regional climate strategies for the Russian part of the Barents region, which will contribute to reducing of GHG emissions that accelerate climate change.

More about the NCM Arctic Cooperation Programme 2015-2017

Cutting black carbon emissions is an acute challenge for all in the European Arctic

The Northern Dimension Institute (NDI) organized the Northern Dimension Future Forum on Environment: Black carbon and climate change in the European Arctic on 19 November 2018 in Brussels. The event gathered researchers, top experts, decision-makers and NGOs to discuss the future challenges as well as solutions available to avert the black carbon impacts of future climate change. The event featured two knowledge arenas consisting of brief researcher presentations followed by comments and a moderated discussion. Ms. Cathy Smith from Speak-Easy moderated the event.

Professor Riitta Kosonen, Director of the Center for Markets in Transition, Aalto University, and the Lead Coordinator of the NDI gave an overview of the role of NDI in the Northern Dimension policy and supporting the work of the four Northern Dimension Partnerships. In November 2018, NDI organized four Northern Dimension Future Forums in close collaboration with the ND Partnerships focusing on the jointly selected topics. The work is planned to continue through a three-year-project on a Northern Dimension Think Tank.

ND Future Forum on Environment Riitta Kosonen 2 web 2
Riitta Kosonen, NDI Lead Coordinator, opening the event

Ms. Ewa Manik, Associate Manager from EBRD, Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) described the NDEP as a successful cooperation model to tackle global climate challenges through real concrete cooperation actions. The partnership is extended to 2021 with over 342 MEUR already contributed to the NDEP Support Fund and over 353 MEUR (Russia 60 MEUR, EU 84 MEUR) pledged.

ND Future Forum on Environment Ewa Manik 2 web
Ewa Manik, EBRD, NDEP

In her keynote speech, Ms. Yvon Slingenberg, Director of the DG Climate Action of the European Commission, underlined multilateral rules-based collaboration and diplomacy as key approaches to engage all the stakeholders in achieving the Paris Agreement long-term goals. EU fights climate change through both domestic actions and international cooperation aiming at ambitious goals on energy efficiency, transforming the industry, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, cleaner and more sustainable transport, cities and communities. EU envisages environmental cooperation with Russia in the G20 framework, through concrete climate action projects and people-to-people cooperation such as the Northern Dimension initiatives.

ND Future Forum on Environment Yvon Slingenberg 2 web
Yvon Slingenberg, DG Clima

In the Knowledge Arena 1, researchers focused on highlighting the policy arenas for reducing black carbon. Professor Mikael Hildén, Director of the Climate Change Research Programme in the Finnish Environment Institute and Program Director of the Strategic Research Program on a Climate-Neutral and Resource-Scarce Finland, Academy of Finland, introduced the Arctic Council actions in reducing black carbon emission. In case the good experiences and innovations are replicated efficiently, the recommended collective goal of 25 - 33 % reduction by 2025 is achievable. Ms. Seita Romppanen from UEF Law School University of Eastern Finland featured the legal dimensions of reducing black carbon emissions. National Emissions Ceiling Directive is so far the only EU legal instrument addressing directly black carbon emissions. In order to ensure proper legal regulation on black carbon, better policy coordination, synergies and specific measures are needed at both EU and global level. In his presentation, Mr. Russel Shearer, representing Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) of the Arctic Council, highlighted the EU Action on black carbon in the Arctic. In his presentation Mr. Shardul Agrawala, Head of the Environment and Economy Integration Division, OECD, focused on economic consequences of outdoor air pollution. Based on the OECD estimations, health impacts and costs of inaction to reduce the black carbon are significant in the Arctic with premature deaths as the most dangerous consequences.

In the moderated discussion, the commentators Ms. Marie-Anne Coninsx, Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs of the EU and Ms. Susanne Lindahl from DG Environment underlined that the challenge is to bridge the available knowledge and implementation of the needed actions. There is still need for better coordination of the legal regulation addressing black carbon, adopting new technologies into use, applying measurements, monitoring and concrete actions.

ND Future Forum on Environment first knowledge arena web
Knowledge Arena 1: Shardul Agrawala, Russel Shearer, Mikael Hildén, Seita Romppanen, Marie-Anne Coninsx and Susanne Lindahl

In the Knowledge Arena 2, speakers focused on actions in practice. In his presentation, Associate Professor, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen from the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki and Strategic Research Program on Security, Academy of Finland, indicated that reducing gas flaring of the Russian oil and gas industry has critical role in curbing black carbon emission in the Arctic. He underlined e.g. environmental certificates and more reliance on soft means to influence environmental investments and international cooperation in the renewable energy. Ms. Patti Bruns, from the Arctic Council, Executive Secretary for the Working Groups of Arctic Contaminant Action Program (ACAP) and Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR) gave on overview of practical actions and lessons learnt in reducing environmental risks and prevent pollution of the Arctic environment. These include for example an Arctic Black Carbon Case Studies Platform and concrete actions on community based black carbon and public health assessments. Cases studies are a «one stop shop» for best practices and lessons learned from black carbon demonstration projects from across the Arctic region. Ms. Soffia Gudmundsdottir, from the Arctic Council, the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment working group (PAME), introduced the key achievements and projects underway including the first comprehensive Arctic shipping activity database. Mr. Jaakko Henttonen, Special Adviser on the Arctic Environment for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, underlined the NDEP as a successful platform bringing together the key stakeholders to discuss and find concrete solutions in environmental projects in North-West Russia.

The Knowledge Arena 2 ended with a moderated discussion with the commentators. Ms. Stine Svarva, Counsellor for Environment, Mission of Norway to EU pointed out that reducing black carbon emissions are high in the agenda in Norway. Mr. Jari Vilen, Senior Advisor for Arctic Policy, European Commission, emphasized need for urgent measures globally and ensuring that the Arctic is included in the EU mainstream policy. Mr. Dennis Moskalenko from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Russia commented that the challenges and interests are common for all the countries and the Northern Dimension framework provides a good platform for sharing new ideas and finding joint solutions in reducing black carbon also in the future.

ND Future Forum on Environment second knowledge arena web
Knowledge Arena 2: Cathy Smith, Soffia Gudmundsdottir, Patti Bruns, Jaakko Henttonen, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Jari Vilen and Stine Svarva.

Mr. Alistair Clark, Managing Director, Environment & Sustainability, EBRD, NDEP, underlined that the joint projects under the NDEP consist of true partnerships between financial partners, donors, countries and local stakeholders, and are easily scalable for other partnerships.

ND Future Forum on Environment Alistair Clark
Alistair Clark, EBRD, NDEP

According to the concluding remarks by Ms. Sannamaaria Vanamo (Deputy Director General, Department for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland) the forum proved that collaboration, direct discussions and people-to-people communication between decision-makers, civil servants and researchers are important and particularly in the politically challenging situation today. ND partnerships provide an excellent opportunity for the equal footing partners EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland to make a difference and clean the air together.

ND Future Forum on Environment Sannamaaria Vanamo web
Sannamaaria Vanamo, MFA, Finland

The event was organized by the Northern Dimension Institute together with the Northern Dimension Partnership on Environment and financed by the European Commission/DG NEAR and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
The Northern Dimension Institute is a an open university network, which is coordinated by the Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, as the Lead Coordinator in cooperation with the Northern (Arctic) Federal University and the St Petersburg State University of Economics in Russia.

Programme of the event can be found here (pdf).

Webcasts from the ND Future Forum on Environment and the ND Future Forum on Transport are available below:

The webcast is available until 20 May 2019.

Presentations made in the forum are available below (pdfs).

Knowledge Arena 1: Developing Policy Arenas for Action
Arctic Council actions in reducing black carbon. Mr. Mikael Hildén, Professor, Director, Climate Change Program, Finnish Environment Institute; Program Director, Strategic Research Program on A Climate-Neutral and Resource-Scarce Finland, Academy of Finland
The Legal dimension of reducing black carbon emissions, Ms. Seita Romppanen, Senior Lecturer in International Environmental Law CCEEL, UEF Law School University of Eastern Finland
The EU Black carbon initiative, Mr. Russel Shearer, Project Manager, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Arctic Council
The Economics of air pollution control, Mr. Shardul Agrawala, Head of the Environment and Economy Integration Division, OECD

Knowledge Arena 2: Actions in Practice
How to reduce black carbon emissions in Russia's oil and gas industry? Mr. Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Associate Professor, Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki; Strategic Research Program on Security, Academy of Finland
Practical actions throughout the Arctic, Ms. Patti Bruns, Executive Secretary for the Working Groups of Arctic Contaminant Action Program (ACAP ) and Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR), Arctic Council
Emission reductions in shipping, Ms. Soffia Gudmundsdottir, Executive Secretary, PAME, Arctic Council
Promotion of biomass to replace coal and oil at local heating plants for cutting BC emissions in North-West Russia, Mr. Jaakko Henttonen, Special Adviser on the Arctic Environment for the MFA of Finland

Dissertation: Black carbon deposition in the European Arctic from the preindustrial to the present

Meri M. Ruppel
Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Department of Environmental Sciences
University of Helsinki, Finland

The objective of this thesis is to collect new spatial and temporal data on BC deposition in the European Arctic from the preindustrial to the present (i.e., the last ca. 300 years), and assess BC sources and climatic implications, by analysing five lake sediment cores from Arctic Finland and an ice core from Svalbard. 

The results suggest that black carbon may have exerted a significant impact on the radiative forcing and thereby past climatic warming of the Arctic, in the most recent three or four decades. However, the study indicates that local results cannot necessarily be extrapolated over wider areas, and therefore further studies are required to establish regional black carbon deposition trends within the Arctic.

To read the thesis, please visit University of Helsinki webpage.

EASME looking for experts on environment and resources

The European Commission Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) is looking for independent experts to act as peer reviewers in the evaluation of project proposals in the fields of climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials. The next evaluations in the field of environment and resources are planned for spring 2016.

EASME is looking for experts from local, regional and national administration, including environmental and civil protection agencies, industry, business associations and innovation agencies, and universities and research institutes (in particular from Central and Eastern European countries).

Further information is available at EASME page.

EBRD supports improved quality of water supply in Belarus - investment grants from NDEP

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing loans for the total amount of €21 million to rehabilitate water supply and wastewater infrastructure in three Belarusian towns with a total population of over 400.000 people.

The loans are extended under the €40 million Belarus Water Sector Framework, which will also be expanded to other municipalities across the country. It will help modernise water and wastewater treatment facilities, rehabilitate corresponding networks, modernise pumping stations and finance the purchase of maintenance equipment in the towns of Lida, Polotsk and Orsha.

Subprojects of €6 million in Lida (western Belarus) and of €9 million in Polotsk (northern Belarus) will help local utilities comply with EU standards for wastewater treatment and will follow recommendations by the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission to bring significant environmental benefits to the local population and reduce the pollution of the Baltic Sea basin. The Polotsk subproject also envisages the construction of a brand new wastewater treatment facility.

The subprojects will be co-financed by investment grants of €3 million and €4.21 million, respectively, provided by the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership. Pre-investment feasibility studies for both Lida and Polotsk were implemented with the help of technical cooperation funds provided by the government of Sweden.

Read more on the EBRD website.

Energy Efficiency Call 2016 is now open

New funding opportunities: Energy Efficiency Call 2016

Horizon 2020 topics facilitating the market uptake of energy technologies and services, fostering social innovation, removing non-technological barriers, promoting standards and accelerating the cost effective implementation of the Union's energy policies, have opened.

Read more and apply on the EASME website.

Environmental pollution knows no borders

Adviser Jaakko Henttonen (ND Environmental Partnership), what does the future of the Northern Dimension area look like in terms of environmental conditions?

Environmental Technologies Serving Sustainable Regional Development in Remote Border Areas

The European Spatial Development Perspective aims at achieving a balanced and sustainable territorial development, in particular by strengthening economic and social cohesion. Urbanization, the use of non-renewable resources and the accumulation of wastes create economic, social and environmental problems. Societies need to adapt cross-cutting sustainable solutions to overcome the limitations provided by the scarcity of resources and the challenges of climate change.

EU takes over HELCOM Chairmanship

Reaching a healthy Baltic Sea ecosystem by 2021, promoting innovation for a sustainable Blue Economy and tackling the challenge of regional governance are the main priorities for the European Union now chairing HELCOM until 30 June 2018. The Chairmanship of the Helsinki Commission rotates between all the Contracting Parties every two years according to their alphabetical order in English.

Please read more about the EU Priorities and new chair from HELCOM website.

Finding joint solutions to transboundary challenges in the Northern Dimension

The Northern Dimension (ND) is nowadays one of the most effective forward-looking formats of regional and trans-border cooperation. The results and achievements of the ND, i.e. better environmental situation in the Baltic and Barents seas, new cultural ties and promotion of cultural industries, improvements in public health protection in the ND area and resolved transport problems, are also well known due to active position of the NDI and its Newsflash, which deserve all the support.

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