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Connect the Unconnected: Reorganizing Management of the Baltic Sea?

Matilda Valman
Stockholm University
Open Panel

Abstract

The Baltic Sea is governed by the nine bordering states and the European Community. During the Cold War the Baltic Sea States signed the Helsinki Convention and the Helsinki Commission was established. This disposition have up till now been seen as a great institutional success. The Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) is a novel tool for international collaboration in the region. The aim of BSAP is to develop a practical implementation of the ecosystem approach. In this study, we analyze to what extent organizational change resulting from the BSAP result in a new approach to the management of the Baltic Sea. We used Social Network Analysis and qualitative text analysis of Meeting Minutes to investigate the different platforms that have arisen after the signing of the BSAP. We found that more than one hundred different actors (Ministries, Agencies and NGOs) have participated in meetings arranged by the Helsinki Commission in order to facilitate the implementation of the BSAP. The Social Network Analysis shows how a small number of organizations, from a limited set of countries, occupy central positions in the network. The text analysis reveals that only a few percent of the participators actually contribute to the new political landscape provided by the Helsinki Commission. The new platforms might be manifest changes in the institutional reproduction mechanisms and can consequently be regarded as more fundamental institutional changes, however the behavioral patterns amongst the participators have at this stage been hard to proof. Our results shows that interesting institutional changes are occurring in the governance of the Baltic Sea and that these changes bodes for a desired ecosystem recovery that previous governance system have been unable to evoke.