About the organization
Participants from the Government of Åland (ÅLR) work at the Environmental Department with all strategic issues regarding water on Åland. The Environmental Department functions directly below the Government. The Department works with enforcing the Water Framework Directive as well as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Marine and coastal planning.
To find out more, visit the webpage: www.regeringen.ax
Partner role in the project
ÅLR will work with WPT1 for different pilot areas in the coastal zone together with the other project partners regarding mapping and assessment of values (ecological, cultural, social), mapping of present use of resources and local demands development). ÅLR will focus more intensively on WTP2 – planning and development of sustainable plans – and communication (WPC).
The work includes activation and engagement of stakeholders, community, planners, politicians, civil servants and NGOs – based on existing knowledge and local experience and knowledge. We think that local collaboration and involvement is very important for the success of implementing sustainable coastal plans.
ÅLR will also take a small part in the work with WPT3 (Evaluation and dissemination.) ÅLR is planning to have workshops and meetings with invited experts as well as the local people, municipalities, stakeholders, politicians and NGOs regarding development planning at community level, using the prepared education materials from the other WPs (best practices e.g., handbook, guidelines (incl. long term management).
ÅLR will participate in handbook creation and sharing experience and know-how, as well as providing methodological assistance where relevant. Emphasis is placed on local knowledge in planning and implementation of the identified action (pilot) areas, but equal emphasis is given to bring in new knowledge from new blue and green technologies, and how to best take advantage of this as well as local knowledge when making decisions and sustainable plans for the coastal zone.
Benefits from participating in the project
Åland is small archipelago situated in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland, with around 30 000 people. Situated as it is at the boundary between land and sea, the local community has been strongly influenced by its geography and remains closely tied to the current status of the Baltic Sea. We need experience, expertise and good examples from other countries around the other Baltic Sea, in terms of sustainable coastal zone development.
Ecosystem services in Åland have important contribution to the social welfare in the region. Both commercial and recreational fishing are dependent on diversity of fish species and the good condition and functioning of the ecosystem producing these services. Fishery, tourism and recreational activities play a key role in people’s quality of life and are of big importance for health. Clean and clear water are crucial for humans and all living organisms.
Climate change is going to cause a problem in flood risk areas and the whole ecosystem in the long run. Climate change could also reduce the water quality of drinking waters, which should be considered in tourist facilities and small households with their own wells.
The status of coastal water gets poorer due habitat degradation and the capacity to produce food (fish) is suffering. Overfishing is also a problem. On Åland we want to take all these problems into account in our sustainable planning. To reverse these trends, we need better planning and we need preventive work to reduce the load from land and the effects of climate change. It is also important to promote fish stocks, that is, to do something about the over-fishing that occurs today as well as to protect fish spawning. By co-operating within this project and through increased local cooperation, we expect to gain a greater understanding of the sustainable coastal zone development that we all need.
Previous experience of international projects
The Environmental Departments work strategically for better water quality and this includes cooperation within Åland with, for example, municipalities, NGOs, stakeholders and authorities, as well as nationally (with Finland) and internationally with other authorities and researchers. We are working hard to implement measures and plans that will lead to a better water quality for Åland and the Baltic Sea. We collaborate and implement actions and reporting of marine directives to the EU. We also work a lot with sustainable development.
Åland has seven policy-based strategic development goals to be met by 2051. Better water quality and increased biodiversity are two of the goals and are fundamentally a prerequisite for a well-functioning society with healthy people. ÅLR has participated in several international cooperations regarding water issues. Åland has experience in different EU projects, like JOBWAB and NANNUT (Interreg IV A) and Smart Coast (EUSBSR Seed Money).