On April 25, 2024, Riga, Latvia, marked a significant moment in environmental diplomacy with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the protection of the Baltic Sea. This golden jubilee, held at the National Library of Latvia, underscored the enduring commitment of the Baltic nations and their partners to marine conservation.

The event was inaugurated by Latvia’s Minister of the Environment, Inga Bērziņa, alongside her Finnish counterpart, Kai Mykkänen. The day began with a ministerial meeting that highlighted the ongoing and future commitments to the Baltic Sea’s environmental health.

Among the distinguished speakers was Pekka Haavisto,Member of the Parliament of Finland, who delivered a keynote address focusing on regional security and environmental stability in the wake of current geopolitical tensions. Additional insights were provided by Karen Ellemann, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, and Alan Haynie, General Secretary of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, both emphasizing the need for sustained and collaborative efforts to tackle environmental challenges.

A parallel event, “Waves of Change,” organized by the Coalition Clean Baltic and WWF on April 24, set the stage by discussing innovative strategies for accelerating environmental action and financing in the region.

The celebration also served as a reflective platform for sharing HELCOM’s achievements and the challenges it has faced over the past five decades. The Commission, established alongside the 1974 Helsinki Convention, has played a pivotal role in integrating environmental concerns into the broader political agenda, making it a cornerstone of regional cooperation in the Baltic Sea area.

As HELCOM enters its next half-century, the spirit of cooperation and dedication to the Baltic Sea’s health remains strong, demonstrating a collective resolve to ensure its preservation for future generations. The events in Riga not only celebrated past successes but also renewed commitments to enhanced environmental stewardship of one of Europe’s most cherished marine environments, the Baltic Sea.