ASTRA Stakeholder Workshop, Gdansk, 26. October 2006


A dialogue-oriented step towards adaptation strategies for the Baltic Sea Region

1. Introduction

The second international ASTRA conference, held in Gdansk, Poland, from October 26-28 2006, comprised a workshop for stakeholders of climate change issues. The overall aim of the conference was to provide stakeholders and project partners from the Baltic Sea Region with a deeper understanding of climate change. The specific objective of the workshop convened by Prof. Dr. Walter Leal, TuTech, Hamburg, Germany, was to offer a cross-national and interdisciplinary discussion of selected climate change impacts. The results of this workshop will feed into the development of policy recommendations for the Baltic Sea region under the INTERREG III B ASTRA project. About 50 delegates of national, regional and local levels, coming from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, were actively involved in the afternoon session of the first conference day. After Leal introduced the workshop setting to the audience, three smaller groups were formed. Due to the nature of participants, two groups concentrated more on the trends on the local level, whereas a third group took into account the transnational perspective.

2. Summary

A survey of state-of-the-art climate impact research, a study of the impacts of the winter storm Gudrun (7-9 January 2005), and a qualitative survey of urban, regional and national institutions served as starting point. Based on these findings and first feedback gathered from a stakeholder workshop in Klaipeda/Lithuania, six vulnerable sectors have been estimated as being highly relevant in the development of adaptation strategies: Urban Area, Coastline, Water, Energy, Tourism, Transport. Every municipality and region has its own characteristics. One aspect of the workshop sessions was thus to encourage the participants to consider the relevance of the above mentioned sectors for their respective country, region, or municipality. Further, it became clear that the list needs to be amended by the agricultural sector, and address themes such as biodiversity. Other aspects have been to identify in which sectors climate change impacts and adaptation needs are discussed in the respective countries, and which impacts were a major threat for these sectors. In the end of the conference, the participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire indicating their individual opinion which of the suggested sectors were most relevant. The following figures 1 and 2 sum up the consolidated findings from conference participants.

Figure 1: Priorities according to workshop participants

According the individual opinion of the delegates, urban area and coastline were the most important, followed by water. This outcome is reflected in the single group results as well (see 1.1, 1.2. and 1.3).

Figure 2: Priorities according to country
Source: Stakeholder workshop, 26 Oct 2006; n=25, own visualization

With reference to the nationality of the participants, the results are somewhat different.Finnish delegates clearly pointed urban area and water as most prioritized impact areas. Whereas the other countries each indicated the same 'ranking' as shown in figure 1.

The three groups, facilitated by Prof. Leal, by Prof. Dr. Martin Welp, University of Applied Sciences Eberswalde, Germany, and Prof. Dr. Jörg Knieling HarbourCity University, Hamburg, Germany, worked 90 minutes on various key questions.

1.1. Detailed Results Yellow Workshop
Facilitator: Prof. Dr. Walter Leal (TuTech) Rapporteurs: Simo Häänpaa (CURS), Franziska Mannke (TuTech)

The group facilitated by Prof. Walter Leal, TuTech Innovation/ Germany, agreed on urban area and coastline as most relevant sectors. Next were water, energy, transport and tourism. The group added the following items to the list of most relevant impacts: agriculture and forestry, information and education, natural environment and the economy.

Although some of these items were integrated in the definitions of the six suggested sectors, or can be seen as cross-cuttings issues, the discussion showed that these should be more explicitly addressed by the ASTRA screening studies.

When asked for sectors currently discussed in the respective countries in terms of climate change, the range of answers varied considerably: In Finland, all sectors seemed to be discussed, and also waste management was highly topical. The Polish colleagues mentioned transport, tourism, coastline in terms of sea as well as land, and agriculture as being important. In Latvia, there were discussion on coastline, water, energy, agriculture and forestry. Interestingly, sectors only little or not at all discussed at all included transport and tourism. A representative from Estonia reported that coastline, energy and waste management were topical. Also forestry seems to be an issue of discussion. In Germany, coastline, urban area, energy and forestry are on the agenda.

From the delegates? point of view, the most important impacts were sea level rise, droughts and floods, storm surges, changes in snow cover, ground water level rise and salinization, extreme event and the length of the growing season.

Urban area

Referring to possible starting points to develop adaptation strategies in the most mentioned sector, urban area, the participants stated that this process started with information, a collection of best practices as well as dissemination. Furthermore, changes in building code, restrictions in building, and spatial planning in general were stated. Giving space to water as well as vertical evacuation and the remodelling of infrastructure (rain water pipes, drainage systems etc.) were also mentioned.

For the urban area, the relevant key actors were thought to be politicians and national goverments as well as local authorities. Developers and land owners could also influence the sector?s development. Furthermore, specialists, economists, incurance companies and to a certain extent non-governmental organizations were mentioned.


Concerning starting points for the second most important sector, coastline, the delegates of the first workshop listed monitoring and forecasts, strategies for development, and planning by local communities. The consultation of local needs was also of importance, as was flood protection and the charting of risk areas. With reference to coastline, international cooperation was also thought to be a relevant starting point.

The delegates identified the following key actors for the coastline sector: national and local governments, spatial planners, especially dyke planners, national resource institutes, and institutions for nature preservation. Naturally for the coastline sectors, the fishing and shipping industry as well as the harbour operators play important roles. The local population and local communities, industry management and farmers were also mentioned. Compared to the previous sector, non-governmental organizations seem to play a more relevant role in coastline issues.

1.2. Detailed Results Orange Workshop
Facilitator: Prof. Martin Welp (UASE) Rapporteurs: Elena Talockaite (ECAT), Samuli Lehtonen (CURS)

Urban areas and coastline were given a higher priority by the participants of the working group facilitated by Prof. Martin Welp, UASE. These two topics were considered to be broad and encompassing, so that they include also other sectors, such as water, energy, transport, etc. In addition to the six suggested sectors participants listed fishery, health, economy, agriculture and forestry, coastline ecosystems and pollution risk (e.g., soil and water pollution caused by flooded landfills and oil reservoirs) as sectors that are relevant as well.

Flooding, rising of the level of groundwater, salt water intrusion, erosion of river banks, problems with energy supply during and after storms, degradation of the quality of water (especially in summer due to algae blooming) and extreme events were named by the participants as main impacts and risks related to climate change.

Urban area

Participants discussed about the need to inform citizens of urban areas that climate change really is taking place and that there is need for adaptation measures. Information campaign should cover also decision-makers and planners. Awareness of the citizens about the need to implement climate change adaptation measures will help them to accept necessary investments in adaptation measures that are or will be done by local authorities.

Information campaigns have to be organised and carried out strategically and using proper facts and methods. Citizens and decision-makers want to have exact data provided by scientists. The target groups might negatively accept information about low probability of extreme events or very frightening information. Therefore, information has to be provided in well psychologically and socially designed way. Society has to be provided with scientific knowledge, but it has to be provided in simple and understandable way. In addition, timing of an information campaign was considered important (e.g. after an extreme event).

Development of climate change adaptation strategies and action plans at local level is considered as one more starting point. Local authorities have to be ready strategically and implement planned adaptation measures as soon as financial resources are available. Hence, a ?trigger? is needed to boost decision making.

One of the solutions could be the establishment of climate change adaptation fund. Resources of this fund would be used for the implementation of adaptation measures. At the moment when awareness of the citizens, local decision-makers and other target groups concerning the need of climate change adaptation measures will reach adequate level, the decision to use certain part of local taxes for this fund might be taken. Local authorities should also look for additional investments to this fund. Such a fund may also be established on the national level.

In order to plan and implement climate change adaptation measures a clear understanding and distribution of roles and responsibilities has to be done.


Avoidance of any activities and constructions in the areas situated close to the coastline can be considered as one of the adaptation measures. In some cases such decision might cause big economic losses for the local authority, as coastal areas are usually used for the construction of prestigious housing districts and/or tourism objects. Therefore, local authorities have to take a decision taking into consideration principles of sustainable development and choose either losses caused by the climate change or lower investments to the coastal area. One of the solutions might be the use of coastline areas for public purposes or construction of ?floating houses?, but such decision has to be supported legally and technically.

Proper legal and strategic framework (e.g., Master plan, Land Use plan, etc.) could help local authorities to implement climate change adaptation measures. Representatives of Poland informed that planners know adaptation measures and some of them are taken into consideration in the daily work. However, not always these measures are identified as climate change adaptation measures. Planners participating in different seminars, workshops, courses are aware of these measures, include them to the local plans and strategies. However, practical implementation of these measures at local level is very slow due to the low awareness of the decision-makers. Also it is essential to note that the development in transition countries is very fast compared to old EU member states.

1.3. Detailed Results Green Workshop Facilitator: Jörg Knieling (HafenCity University Hamburg, Germany)
Rapporteur: Lasse Peltonen (Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, Helsinki, Finland), Katrin Tresse (HafenCity University Hamburg, Germany)

The leading question of the Pan-Baltic workshop, facilitated by Prof. Knieling (HafenCity University Hamburg, Germany), was in which way adaptation to climate change impacts can be enhanced in a Pan-Baltic context. The workshop started with an exchange of experience, in which sectors climate change is already discussed and adaptation strategies or measures can be found in the participants? home countries. In a second session potential starting points for adaptation strategies and programmes were discussed more detailed in two sectors: agriculture & fishery and coastal protection & urban development.

In a first discussion round fisheries, agriculture and biodiversity were added as missing aspects to the ASTRA selection of sectors most relevant for climate change adaptation in the BSR. Participants stated that climate change impacts particularly can be observed in the change, decrease or disappearance of a number of fish species. Whereas biodiversity covers biological aspects due to climate change impacts, agriculture and fishery can be seen under an economical perspective. The changing ecosystem has consequences on the socio-economic sector.

Climate change impacts are already discussed in the sector of coastal protection and the development of housing areas in coastal areas. Luebeck (Germany) has established an interdisciplinary work group aiming at awareness raising not to build on the coast. Housing development on the coast is also a topic in Helsinki and Kokkola (Finland). Decisions have to be taken, where houses can be built or not and which construction levels are appropriate. Industrial landfill is another issue, where climate change needs to be considered in Finland. Future sea level and storm conditions have to be defined in order to avoid damage from sea level rise (SLR). The danger of saltwater intrusion into ground water due to changes in sea-level was highlighted. Changes in precipitation also can affect the salinity in the Baltic Sea. A major problem for fishery and coastal development is eutrophication as the Baltic Sea is relatively sweet. In Raahe (Finland) the difficulties of off-shore wind parks and climate change impacts have been discussed, especially the difficulties to maintain wind energy plants if the storminess or ice movement increase.

In a vote the workshop participants chose agriculture and fishery as the most important issue for the further discussion (6 votes). Coastal Protection (4 votes) and urban development (two votes) were combined as a second issue for discussion. When voting, the participants were encouraged to choose not only in terms of their personal preferences but also in order to identify sectors that are relevant for the Baltic Sea Region as a whole.

Fishing can be regarded as a pan-Baltic aspect as all bordering countries are affected if there is a change in fish species in the Baltic Sea. As a basic condition for developing adaptation strategies the need of a monitoring system registerating current changes was mentioned. Further research and the production of new knowledge were highlighted as further important precondition for adaptation strategies, i.e. more information on the interrelation between warming and eutrophication. It is particularly important that gained information and knowledge is communicated to the affected actors, i.e. to local fishermen. One potential way to adapt to changing water conditions could be aquaculture for fish farming. Adaptation options in the agriculture sector could be seen in new trends such as the production of biomass as a new income resources and a reduction of overproduction.

It was highlighted that there are also other interfering factors of negative development trends in the fishery sector, such as the decline of fish species due to overfishing. Similar problems can be found in the agriculture sector, i.e. negative affects of nutrients on water. The Waterframework Directive (WFD) can be part of an adaptive strategy. It aims at maintaining and improving the quality of water and considers precipitation change or nutrient peeks. Changing patterns of watercourses are important for coastal areas as these waters feed into coastal waters. Thereby, the WFD recognises the interlinkage of problems.

Coastline & urban aspects also were identified as a pan-Baltic topic. For example, the EEA states that marshes are disappearing due to SLR. The consequences affect the whole BSR. In the field of coastal and urban development the need of general principles was mentioned in the group discussion. Shall coastal areas be protected or retreated? It has to be discussed if the position of coastal defence is the best option or if other ways can be found. General guidelines also can counteract inconsistent approaches due to disparate resources (i.e. financial resources of urban and rural communities). It was stated, that climate change impacts should not only be considered in new developments but also in existing structures. The need of national strategies for ICZM including a proper definition was stated in the discussion. Integrated management should not only be a topic in the field of coastal areas but also in other areas. A law might be necessary, to regulate that spatial & temporal issues are taken into account. Coastal protection also should be seen as a broader issue than coastal defence.

Institutional aspects were discussed as important precondition for developing integrated approaches. One suggestion was the establishment of an agency responsible for sea and land issues to improve the coordination of coastal development. Legislative instruments were highlighted as important approaches. For example, a shoreline protection law exists in Sweden and it is planned in Finland. Furthermore, Finnish municipalities are responsible for safe building sites when developing new settlements.

The insurance sector can play a vital role in enhancing adaptation measures. Compensation systems were discussed. When destroying spawning areas, the originator has to pay for the development of new ones. But it was concluded, that compensation does not function everywhere, though. EU guidelines for a uniform training practice for planners how to integrate climate change impacts into practice can be a starting point for mainstreaming adaptation needs. Potential positive aspects of climate change impacts should not be left out. For instance, SLR could be seen as an asset to gain new shallow waters and thereby ecologically wealthy areas.

Some general remarks were given in the workshop. As obstacles for considering climate change impacts the lack of financial resources was mentioned several times. Another obstacle, especially concerning cross border cooperation, are institutional differences, i.e. in Poland the state is responsible for coastline management, in Finland and Sweden, it is the municipalities? responsibility. As a major problem maladaptation and bad management of climate change issues can be seen. Therefore, an analysis of current policies should be conducted in order to identify sources of maladaptation. The need of mainstreaming adaptation strategies was highlighted. Climate change cannot exist by itself; therefore, there is a need to integrate it into other fields of policy. Opportunities of mainstreaming can be found at EU level, i.e. the EU Maritime Green Paper, the current development process of the ECCP II or the Green Paper on Adaptation. The question was raised, what an adaptation strategy is and what kind of measures and tools it compromises (legal aspects or more general guidelines, technical measures or as well economic regulation)? The participants also discussed if climate change adaptation a pan-Baltic or a more local focused topic is. In the workshop fishing and coastal protection were identified as transnational aspects.

The need for Pan-Baltic or EU guidelines can be seen in the resulting consistency of measures in order to avoid social disparities. Adaptation should be regarded as shared responsibility, especially as some countries might need more costly measures than others. A pan-Baltic policy could provide the opportunity to gain a broad and comprehensive insight of adaptation needs and strategies in the Baltic Sea Region. The potential of a Pan-Baltic approach particularly can be seen in the possibilities of transfering models across borders. Finland, for example, is already coping with ice problems in winter, such as floods due to ice jam. Therefore, the Finnish adaptation strategies could be used as lessons for other project partners. But it was concluded, that there is a need to differentiate policies and measures of different levels (local, national and pan-Baltic) in order to develop adequate adaptation.


 © TuTech Innovation GmbH, 2007