Centre researcher Thorsten Blenckner (right) and Julie Stewart Lowndes from University of California explain the new Baltic Health Index. Interviewed by Marie Löf from the Baltic Sea Centre at Stockholm university
Baltic Health Index
The Baltic Sea is under considerable strain due to emissions and other pressures on the ecosystem. This in turn affects the social-ecological services it provides to the roughly 90 million people inhabiting the drainage area.
Amid a range of initiatives and programmes to improve the state of the Baltic Sea, few have been successful in incorporating the social, ecological and financial factors that all contribute to a new tool for decision-makers in the region.
The tool, called The Baltic Health Index, is an 18-month regional assessment of the Sea's health. The index will focus on the ability to continue to produce the ecosystem services and products that humans depend on.
The index is calculated by establishing reference points for achieving specific social-ecological goals, and measuring how well the economic zones of the region meet these goals.
Based on a global framework
The Baltic Health Index is a regional study under the global Ocean Health Index framework. The Ocean Health Index was first published in Nature, 2012 by Professor Ben Halpern and his team at University of California. It is the first comprehensive ocean assessment that also includes humans as a part of the marine ecosystems. The Ocean Health Index provides an integrated measure on how sustainable the oceans are managed by using available data from many different disciplines.
The Baltic Health Index is a jointly led project between Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and Baltic Eye at the Baltic Sea Centre, both at Stockholm University, together with the Ocean Health Index team.
The project is led by Thorsten Blenckner (SRC) and a project team. Several researchers will be appointed as Goalkeepers, who will be responsible for one goal each, and they will be working with teams of researchers who are experts on separate parts of the given goals. The Steering group, including Johan Rockström (SRC), Tina Elfwing (Baltic Sea Centre) and Thorsten Blenckner, are responsible for larger strategic decisions and external representation.
The project is funded by Baltic Ecosystem Adaptive Management, BEAM, a research programme on ecosystem-based management of the Baltic Sea, Baltic Eye and the Johansson Family Foundation.
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