National Strategy for the Prevention of and Response to Environmental Damage guides preparedness for current and future threats
The Government has adopted a resolution on the National Strategy for the Prevention of and Response to Environmental Damage extending to 2035. The Strategy was adopted at the government session on 16 February. Its main objective is to guide the authorities’ preparedness for current and future threats of environmental damage. The Strategy needed to be updated to ensure that the responsibilities of different actors are in line with the current legislation. The Ministry of the Interior directs, guides and supervises the prevention of and response to oil and chemical spills from ships. The Strategy also takes into account changes in the operating environment.
“The Baltic Sea and our inland waters are unique natural environments that must be protected from both long-term environmental problems and sudden environmental damage. Finland aims to be the leading expert and frontrunner in combating environmental damage in the Baltic Sea region. The new strategy will support the authorities in combating environmental damage,” says Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen.
All operations must work towards a common objective in the event of environmental damage
The Strategy supports the authorities in their preparedness work, sets requirements for the planning of activities and demonstrates Finland’s resolve to support the planning of resources. All operators are responsible for meeting their own obligations and implementing the Strategy in their own preparedness planning. The task of the responsible authorities is to coordinate operations so that all operations work towards a common objective in the event of environmental damage.
The Strategy is even more important and topical given that the operating environment changed in 2022, and is still changing. Now, maritime transport is subject to significant changes in order to reduce emissions into the environment.
Vessel traffic in our sea area has also changed. The sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia have affected oil transport in Finland’s neighbouring areas. There are now older vessels that Russia uses for its oil transport sailing in the Gulf of Finland. Risks related to winter navigation must also be taken into account from the perspective of preparedness for the prevention of and response to environmental damage.
Oil and chemical spills are typical types of environmental damage
Oil and chemical spills are typical types of environmental damage. These mean vessel oil and chemical spills in maritime and coastal areas and inland waters and oil and chemical spills on land. The Border Guard is responsible for the prevention of and response to environmental damage on the high seas and rescue departments in coastal areas, in inland waters and on land.
The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment provide expert assistance to prevention and response measures led by the Border Guard and rescue departments and to post-spill recovery measures led by the municipalities.
SYKE’s report on environmental damage in Finland in 2013–2019 reveals that about 90 per cent of environmental damage was caused by oil spills and the rest mainly of damage caused by the use of industrial chemicals. Accidents occur especially in traffic and transport.
Strategy was prepared in cooperation with key stakeholders
The Strategy was prepared in broad-based cooperation with key stakeholders. In addition to the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Defence, experts from the authorities participating in the prevention of and response to environmental damage as well as businesses and organisations took part in the work.
The National Advisory Board for the Prevention of and Response to Oil and Chemical Spills from Ships, appointed by the Ministry of the Interior, will monitor the implementation of the Strategy. It includes representatives from key authorities and stakeholders involved in the prevention of and response to environmental damage.
Mikko Simola, Commander, Head of Unit, Border Guard, tel. +358 295 421 151, [email protected]
Mikko Jalo, Special Adviser to the Minister of the Interior, tel. +358 50 304 8522, [email protected] (requests for interviews with Minister Mikkonen)