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Finland to head broad-based Baltic Sea research collaboration

Research funding agencies in the nine Baltic Sea States have set up a European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG) called BONUS – Baltic Organisations’ Network for Funding Science. The Programme Secretariat of the BONUS EEIG is based in Helsinki. The Academy of Finland has been an active initiator of and a spearhead in the preparations for this joint structure.

The BONUS programme is a means to implement a completely new form of cooperation between the Baltic Seas States. It will provide a framework within which the Baltic Sea States will launch a jointly funded research programme aiming at generating new knowledge to support protection of the Baltic Sea. The programme takes into consideration research needs that have been identified as important, for instance, in the work of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission HELCOM as well as in the implementation of the EU Marine Environment Strategy.

For 30 years now, the Baltic Sea States have through HELCOM been working systematically for the protection of the Baltic Sea. However, not enough coordination has been put into producing the research knowledge needed for protection efforts and the cooperation between research funding agencies has been limited. A joint research programme for the Baltic Sea thus opens up totally new prospects for the social utilisation of research knowledge and it also complements existing forms of cooperation.

The launch of the research programme comes at a key time, when the EU is preparing its marine policy, as well as its marine environment strategy and marine environment directive. The strategy shall define the research needs that will form the basis of marine environment protection and improvement. The scientific focus of the Baltic Sea research programme pays special attention to the interaction between human activities and the Baltic Sea ecosystem. The programme also includes sections that aim to improve the application of research results in marine protection.

“We can take pride in that Finland is the initiator behind this funding collaboration. The Baltic Sea region will clearly be a model for the implementation of the marine strategy in other European regional seas as well. The European Commission has realised this, too, since it has put aside a considerable sum to launch the BONUS research programme,” says Kaisa Kononen, the Executive Director of the recently established interest grouping.

The BONUS programme will announce its first call for grants in autumn 2007, worth close on 27 million euros, of which 18 million is provided by the Baltic Sea States and nine million by the Commission.

Niko Rinta | alfa
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