Monday, 16 April 2018 16:13

Baltic Pharma Platform - reducing pharmaceutical residues in the Baltic Sea through cooperation

Written by  Let's communicate! project

Pharmaceutical residues create an environmental problem in the Baltic Sea. Cooperation is essential to reduce emissions, but how to bring stakeholders and projects together? An EUSBSR flagship Baltic Sea Pharma platform offers one solution. The platform and PA Hazard's work to reduce pharmaceuticals have been acknowledged by HELCOM Ministerial Declaration in March 2018. Policy Area Hazards coordinators Jenny Hedman and Maxi Nachtigall were interviewed by the Communication Point of the EUSBSR.


What is the Baltic Sea Pharma platform?

"The platform is an EUSBSR ongoing flagship project under PA Hazards during the period 2017-2020. It offers regional cooperation to reduce pharmaceuticals in the Baltic Sea, targeting both human and veterinary pharmaceuticals.

The main objective of the platform is to foster the implementation of physical measures within a reasonable time frame, e.g. by 2020, resulting in reduced emissions of pharmaceuticals to the Baltic environment.

Activities mainly focus on non-regulatory solutions, such as new technical and management options.

Transnational projects targeting the emission of pharmaceuticals to the Baltic from different angles (e.g. advanced waste water treatment, waste management, procurement criteria) are clustered on the platform and provide the knowledge base and output of results. The platform supports cooperation, alignment and information exchange between the projects, as well as between other relevant actors in the Baltic region and beyond. Project outputs and dedicated activities of the platform, e.g. policy dialogues and workshops, will contribute to the development of regional and European policy on the issue of pharmaceuticals in the environment.

The platform has been developed within PA Hazards and is managed by the coordinators of PA Hazards."



How did PA Hazards come up with the idea of the Pharma Platform?

"Pharmaceuticals in the environment were identified as an emerging environmental problem within research and academia around the year 2000.

10 years later the issue reached the policy level mainly EU (including EUSBSR) and HELCOM. On 23rd September 2010 the PA Hazards (former PA 3) Steering group discussed for the first time a proposal by Sweden on a flagship project on Sustainable Development of Pharmaceuticals.

During 2011–2014 the project Make the Baltic Sea Region a leader in sustainable management for pharmaceuticals was implemented as a flagship under PA Hazards. Following the end of the project, PA Hazards decided to give the topic of pharmaceuticals in the environment increased attention. The decision was based on the general growing concern over potential environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals and the current policy movements within the EU, Helcom and globally. Also, more knowledge and coordinated actions were requested by many Baltic Sea countries.

The results and established network provided by the project was utilized to develop a strategy for PA Hazard's work on pharmaceuticals in the environment in 2014.

A strategic work to stimulate the development of new transnational projects was undertaken. In December 2015, a project development workshop, with funding institutions and policy makers present, was organized in Copenhagen.

In 2016, the Pharma platform concept was developed and accepted as a flagship of the EUSBSR. This is PA Hazards first attempt to shift the cooperation in flagships from single short-term projects to more holistic long-term processes to better ensure that EUSBSR objectives can be met and policy work can be effective."


Could you describe shortly the PA Hazards-HELCOM joint process?

"Addressing the potential environmental threat from pharmaceuticals have long been on HELCOM´s agenda. The HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in 2013 agreed to collect information and assess the state of contamination.

The macro-regional work on pharmaceuticals is relevant and necessary since it is focusing on a challenge with clear added value of transnational collaboration, an explicit focus on policy development, while creating synergies through collaborating with other regional actors such as Helcom. Cooperation between HELCOM and PA Hazards has grown closer and more strategic over the years as HELCOM being member of the PA Hazards steering group and the policy area coordinator being observer in the HELCOM working group "Pressure". When it comes to pharmaceuticals, PA Hazards and HELCOM went into joint cooperation to produce a regional status report on pharmaceuticals in the Baltic environment. A Background report on pharmaceutical concentrations and effects in the Baltic Sea was published in 2015.

The report has been published by UNESCO, HELCOM and the EUSBSR PA Hazards. It serves as a case study within the framework of UNESCO Emerging Pollutants in Water Series under UNESCO-IHP's International Initiative on Water Quality (IIWQ) Project on 'Emerging Pollutants in Wastewater Reuse in Developing Countries'.

In order to follow up the findings of the Status report, HELCOM decided to establish an expert group (CG Pharma) to provide scientific background for the regional environmental policy regarding pharmaceuticals in the environment and to serve as a platform for regional dialogue for various environmental issues related to pharmaceuticals. In this respect the HELCOM group cooperates with the Pharmaceuticals in the environment (PIE) – A Baltic Sea Region cooperation platform.

PA Hazards participated in the first meetings of the group where the Baltic Sea pharma platform was introduced. Also, individual platform related projects like CWPharma present their results at the expert group meetings to inform policy development."


Why is it important to cooperate with HELCOM?

"HELCOM is an established policy platform that gives the right framework to inform and drive regional policy development and decisions to achieve the overall objective ‘Save the Sea’. PA Hazard's role is to support the development of policy and the implementation of policy goals taken among members states in the region. The platform and its projects provide knowledge and information base that can directly used by HELCOM for develop policy."


More information at the website of Baltic Sea Pharma Platform and from the coordinators of Policy Area Hazards Jenny Hedman and Maxi Nachtigall.


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