Global Water Challenges and Business Opportunities in the Baltic Sea Region

The Mark Brzezinski, US Ambassador to Sweden hosted a round table discussion on 6th of May at his Residence in Stockholm to discuss the BCG (Boston Consulting Group) newly published report “Restoring Waters in the Baltic Sea Region – A strategy for municipalities and local governments to capture economic and environmental benefits”. The group consist apart from the Swedish Tourism Innovation Center a number of influential members such as Google, WSP, BCG, Race For the Baltics (Zennström Philantropies) Baltic 2020, Swedish Government, Swedish Farmers Association and others.

The Baltic Sea is at a critical juncture. Eutrophication, caused by excess nutrients entering the water, is one of the major threats to the sea, coastal areas, and inland waters. Despite progress in re- ducing nutrient load, the water quality in the Baltic Sea continues to deteriorate. In order to reach sustainable nutrient levels and be- gin restoring the waters, local initiatives led by the 1,500 munici- palities in the catchment area will play a critical role. The starting points of these municipalities are, however, vastly different, and two-thirds of the municipalities are either unaware of the problem or have insufficient resources to effectively address it.

The economic benefits of water restoration are manifold. By re- storing local waters, a municipality can develop sustainable busi- nesses and increase recreation, aesthetic value, flood control, bio- diversity, and population’s well-being. For an average municipality, the difference between two scenarios, clear waters state and shipwrecked state, could amount to almost 3,000 full- time jobs and €270 million in economic output aggregated over the course of 15 years. For the entire region this would imply a difference of 900,000 jobs in year 2030 alone, corresponding to ap- proximately 2 percent of the region’s total labor supply.

  • By restoring waters in the Baltic Sea region, a wide range of benefits can be captured locally, contributing positively to associat- ed industries, including water technology, tourism, recreational fishing, and real estate.

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