Finland enhancing support for Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP)

Press release 2011-06-16 at 13:31

Press release by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Finland will grant an additional three million euros in funding to the environmental projects of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Support Fund. This announcement was made today by Hannele Pokka, Permanent Secretary of Finland’s Ministry of the Environment, at the tenth anniversary celebration of the NDEP in St. Petersburg.

‘Environmental problems pay no heed to national borders. International cooperation is essential in tackling major challenges, such as improving the state of the Baltic Sea. Finland can promote environmental projects in its neighbouring area via the NDEP Support Fund. Meanwhile, fresh opportunities are arising for Finnish environmental sector experts to play a role’, comments Ms Pokka.

Additional funding, granted from funds allocated for neighbouring area cooperation under a decision by Paavo Väyrynen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, will raise Finland’s share of the fund from €18 million to €21 million.

The aim of the Fund, which is managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), is to support and co-ordinate funding for priority cross-border environmental projects, particularly in North-West Russia and Kaliningrad. Projects supported by the Fund include ones aimed at reducing the environmental load on the Baltic Sea, improving waste management and promoting investments enhancing energy efficiency. Last year, the Fund extended operations to Belarus.

Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership’s 10th anniversary

The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) was established ten years ago, on Finland’s initiative. Around one half of the €313 million in the NDEP Support Fund is allocated to environmental projects. The other half is allocated to projects related to the treatment of radioactive waste and storage of spent nuclear fuel, particularly on the Kola Peninsula. A new funding round began on 1 January this year. Major contributors to the fund include the European Commission, with an €84 million share, and Russia, with €40 million.

Additional contributors to environmental projects include Finland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Belarus. Thanks to grants from the Fund, over a billion euros has been collected for a total of 23 environmental projects. This has been achieved by pooling donations, and through international loans taken out by Russia and local funding.

‘Most of the environmental projects are financed through loans granted by international financial institutions and locally sourced funding. On the other hand, grants by the Fund often provide key seed money enabling the launch of extensive projects. For instance, the repair of St. Petersburg’s wastewater treatment plants has considerably improved the state of the Gulf of Finland’, says Ms Pokka.

The most important projects supported by the Fund, both under way and completed, include construction of the St. Petersburg southwestern wastewater treatment plant and a project to end direct discharges into the river Neva. Thanks to the Fund’s projects, it is estimated that the phosphorus load on waterways will see an overall yearly reduction of 2,297 tonnes, while the nitrogen load will decrease by 7,612 tonnes. These projects will promote implementation of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission's (HELCOM) Action Plan, which is aimed at achieving sound ecological status for the Baltic Sea by 2021.

More information:

Kristiina Isokallio, Senior Adviser for EU Cooperation, 
Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 581 9618, 
firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Laura Saijonmaa, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, 
tel. +358 40 546 3344, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Merja Pylkkänen, Secretary to the Permanent Secretary, 
Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 535 4573, 
firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Soili Mäkeläinen-Buhanist, Head of Unit, Unit for Regional Cooperation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 40 753 2528, 
firstname.lastname@formin.fi