Despite decades of substantial efforts by multiple actors on local, national, European and international levels to counteract negative environmental trends in the Baltic Sea, little has so far been achieved. It is hence necessary to develop an interdisciplinary and integrated scientific basis that enables improving governance, assessment and communication of environmental risks.
Therefore, the RISKGOV project aims at improving our understanding of the present structures and processes that shape the governance of environmental risks in the Baltic Sea as well as at identifying conditions and opportunities that could improve risk governance and thereby promote sustainable development.
The analysis will be based on a comparative case study approach where five important environmental risk areas (i.e. eutrophication, fisheries, biodiversity impacts, chemical pollution, and maritime transportations) are compared in terms of (i) governance structures, (ii) risk assessment and risk management interactions and (iii) stakeholder communication processes. In order to ensure comparability over cases, a unified analytical framework will be developed by which crucial topics such as multi-level decision-making, institutional interaction, stakeholder involvement and communication, problem framing, risk assessment – risk management interactions, and treatment of uncertainties and complexities will be addressed.
Contrary to many other studies, RISKGOV will particularly focus on comparing and evaluating environmental risk governance at a regional Baltic Sea level (i.e. international, European and transnational). To secure the regional relevance of RISKGOV we will utilise a network of academic experts from Finland, Poland and Germany to plan the proposed research as well as to organize roundtable discussions on key issues with representatives from important stakeholder groups.
Expected outcomes of the project include: – Up-to-date descriptions and evaluations of current approaches to the assessment and governance of environmental risks in the Baltic Sea. – Identification of strengths and weaknesses of current assessment, governance and stakeholder communication arrangements. – Better insights into the structures and conditions of regional environmental risk governance. – A normative framework that will assist future policy development for improving risk governance.