Threats to the Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea is one of the most threatened marine ecosystems on the planet. Decades of human activity in and around the sea continue to negatively impact its sensitive environment.

Key among the direct threats of highest impact are:


Other key threats include:

  • Unintegrated growth and development
  • Infrastructure development
  • Nutrient pollution from households and urban waste water 
  • Toxic pollution
  • Marine litter
  • Climate change

Future Trends

To better understand the upcoming challenges, in 2010 WWF launched the report ‘Future Trends in the Baltic Sea’, focused on the development paths of the various sectors operating in the Baltic Sea over the next 10 and 20 years. The analysis showed that while human activities are likely to expand substantially, there is a serious lack of long term planning for the use of marine space and resources. 


This is further complicated by the situation revealed in the Baltic Sea Scorecard reports.  A key conclusion from these reports is that that there is a growing gap between the statements and commitments made by governments and the corresponding actions needed to actually deliver upon these promises.  


These reports illustrate two overwhelming challenges for the Baltic Sea:

  • the tremendous projected growth which will place even more demands on an already highly stressed ecosystem, 
  • a governance framework that is both unable to deliver the needed protection today and ill-equipped to meet the emerging threats.  


This work has informed WWF’s focus and work with the public and private sector on a range of solutions to address these challenges. 

 / ©: WWF
Despite efforts to tackle the environmental problems of the sea, the Baltic Sea continues to be one of the most polluted sea in the world. A new approach is urgently needed - one that takes into account the total and combined pressure that different sectors are placing on the ecosystem.

Marine litter work Poland

 / ©: WWF

Future Trends

Exponential growth will increase demand for the limited space and resources
The Baltic Sea is getting more crowded, used by a variety of maritime activities, almost all projected to increase and expand substantially over the next 20 years.. read more

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