About the Gulf of Finland co-operation

Brief history


The co-operation to protect the marine environment of the Gulf of Finland has its foundations in the times after the World War II. The collaboration in the field of science and technology between Finland and the Soviet Union was agreed on and established in 1955. As a next step, the environmental collaboration was initiated in 1968 by scientists predominantly from Leningrad and Tallinn. They suggested a joint working group that would focus on the pollution of the Gulf of Finland and the functioning of the marine systems that regulate the Gulf’s state. Foundations for what was to become the trilateral co-operation - starting from 1992 between Estonia, Finland and Russia - were built.

Soon the countries realized that science had a tendency to veer off on its own and become separated from the management and mitigation work. With this in mind, it was considered necessary to bring these two separately operating parties back together again. Thus, trilateral scientific co-operation of the 1990s oriented towards finding practical solutions and environmental improvements.

The work has continued ever since and has had a great importance to scientific community and decision-makers by continuously increasing and deepening our knowledge of the functioning of the Gulf.

Gulf of Finland Year 1996

The 1st Gulf of Finland Year - led by SYKE - served as a platform for active trilateral research including marine biology, physics, chemistry, and geology. One of the key issues was to jointly recognize that the nutrient load to the Gulf was at way too high level. The Year strengthened co-operation among the scientists, and in some fields of research, this kind of a common activity (joint expeditions and publishing work) was carried out for the very first time.

Gulf of Finland Year 2014

The 2nd Gulf of Finland Year was led jointly together by the ministries of the environment in Estonia and Finland, the ministry of natural resources and the environment in Russia, and the Gulf of Finland secretariat.  The Year was hosted by SYKE.

The year brought together experts, decision-makers and citizens from the three countries to work together for a healthier and safer Gulf. Several coastal towns and regions, as well as schools, NGOs and research institutions took part in organizing a large number of public events, environmental education happenings and scientific seminars.

The year had five research themes: marine traffic in winter conditions, bio- and geodiversity, fish resources, ecosystem health, and maritime spatial planning. The focus areas were also linked to the implementation of HELCOM’s Baltic Sea Action Plan developed as a tool for sub-areal implementation of the EU's Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

The main results of the year were the jointly-developed thematic assessment of the state of the Gulf, the special issue of the scientific results published in the journal series Journal of Marine Systems and the policy brief describing the necessary actions to improve the state of the Gulf.

Enter the official GOF2014 webpage (syke.fi)

Enter the GOF material in Youtube (youtube.fi)

Enter the GOF2014 related presentations in Slideshare (slideshare.net)


The trilateral co-operation organises annual Gulf of Finland Science Days. Enter the Events page to learn more.

The Baltic Sea Day Forum has been organized annually in St. Petersburg since 2000. It has been an important event to discuss environmental problems of the Baltic Sea between scientists, private sector, decision-makers and NGOs. The results of the Gulf of Finland co-operation has been reported there on an annual basis.

Trilateral co-operation in its current form

After the Gulf of Finland Year 2014, the ministries of the environment in Estonia and Finland, and the ministry of natural resources and the environment in Russia signed a memorandum of understanding for further co-operation. The countries continue seeking ways to strengthen their co-operation in order to reduce land-based loads, promote sustainable use of natural resources in the Gulf, and to secure the good quality of its marine environment for future generations.

The work is led by the international coordinating committee. Important elements of the work plan are the scientific cooperation that is led by the expert group, common monitoring programme and especially the regularly updated Road Map that delivers the up-to-date information for the decision-makers how to improve the state of the Gulf. Additionally, the trilateral community cooperates actively with international bodies and reports about its work in international conferences.


Published 2017-12-13 at 10:41, updated 2017-12-18 at 13:57
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