Matilda Valman, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
Matilda Valman, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University

How would you describe your project in a few sentences?

Our project concerns if and to what degree HELCOM is responding to information about contaminants in the Baltic Sea. The study is performed by studying policy changes within HELCOM and its link to policy changes in other organizations, such as the EU and UN as well as ecosystem indicators on contaminants in the Baltic Sea.

What are your most important results, and for whom are they particularly useful?

We have studied the usage and policy process of the following contaminants: PCBs, dioxins and furans, tributyltin, flame retardants, and alkylphenols. As it seems in these first tentative results, different contaminants are treated differently within HELCOM. Whereas some receive a lot of attention others are hardly discussed at all. For example, Tributyltin (TBT) follows the same pattern within HELCOM as in other institutional settings (such as EU and UN), why policy diffusion seems to play a major role here. No such pattern can be found for brominated flame retardants, which are hardly discussed at all within HELCOM. Policy diffusion* seems to play an important role in the work of HELCOM, but cannot alone explain why some contaminants are more discussed than others. Policy diffusion also cannot alone explain the speed of the policy response in HELCOM, but it seems to be of great significance.
*Policy diffusion is the idea that the policy choices made in a given place and time are influenced by the policy choices made elsewhere

How can it assist an ecosystem-based management of the marine environment?

Given that rapid environmental changes might require quick management action, it is important to understand the “reaction time” of the policy response. By understanding how the response works under normal conditions it is easier to understand and prepare an appropriate response under pressure.