Restoring Waters in the Baltic Sea Region: A Strategy for Municipalities and Local Governments to Capture Economic and Environmental Benefits

Read the report here. Executive summaries are available here in Swedish, Polish and Finnish.

Front cover: Restoring waters in the Baltic Sea Region

18 February 2015

Municipal actions to restore the Baltic Sea can create 900 000 new jobs

The Baltic Sea is in a critical state, and eutrophication, caused by excess nutrients in the water, is one of the major threats. Measures to limit human-caused nutrient load have been enacted, but progress has been too slow. According to a new study, the future of the Baltic Sea can be improved through a stronger municipal environmental strategy that would also boost local economies and labor markets. Within the entire Baltic Sea region, 900 000* jobs could be created by 2030, representing almost 2% of the total labor supply.

The study, Restoring Waters in the Baltic Sea Region – A Strategy for Municipalities and Local Governments to Capture Economic and Environmental Benefits, commissioned by Zennström Philanthropies and conducted by The Boston Consulting Group, concludes that the Baltic Sea is in a critical state. Eutrophication, caused by excess nutrients in the water, is one of the major threats, and initiating actions at local levels is crucial for a healthy Baltic Sea in the future. Actions to limit nutrient load have been undertaken in past years, but progress needs to accelerate or the water quality will continue to deteriorate. The future of the Baltic Sea can be improved through local environmental actions, which will also boost local economies and labor growth. By taking action today, a municipality could generate nearly 3 000 full-time jobs and €270 million over the course of 15 years, according to the study.

“Municipalities have both the responsibility and possibility to successfully address eutrophication by using their local knowledge and networks. By collaborating with innovative water technology companies, they can accelerate local actions before it is too late”, says Allison Robertshaw, Director of Zennström Philanthropies.

Local actions also bring many opportunities to boost the local economy and labor market, creating thousands of jobs and generating millions of Euros in economic output, mainly within the tourism, water technology and real estate industries. Within the entire Baltic Sea region, 900 000 jobs could be created by 2030, representing almost 2% of the total labor supply. There are also many environmental and socioeconomic benefits from addressing eutrophication, such as improved biodiversity, reduced risk of flooding and a healthier population. Companies that are leading the way in water technology innovations have the opportunity to grow further by exporting solutions to not only other local municipalities, but also globally. For a municipality, this is an opportunity to create local jobs while becoming a global hub for water technology innovations.

“Several municipalities were analyzed and among the ones that are leading on Baltic Sea actions, it is clear they all share commitment from local politicians and municipality leaders, clear objectives and implementation plans, and secured resources and funding. Also, citizens’ engagement with locally- driven initiatives plays a vital role together with cooperation beyond municipal borders”, says Fredrik Lind, Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group.

However, the starting points of the municipalities vary. The report shows that two-thirds of all municipalities around the Baltic Sea region are either unaware of the Baltic Sea’s critical state or lack resources to effectively address it. Also, less than 1% of municipalities are working strategically to address eutrophication. There are benefits to capture, and the municipalities are in a position where they can drive the issue locally in order to also capture these benefits.

“The report has a clear message for politicians and municipality leaders that restoring the Baltic Sea should not be seen as a cost, but as an opportunity to create local jobs and economic value. Investing in clean and healthy waters will boost jobs and economic activity in municipalities”, says Fredrik Lind.

*900 000 job opportunity

The report has compared two scenarios when calculating the job opportunity for all regions by 2030, a). clear waters state and b). shipwrecked state. In the clear waters state, municipalities have addressed eutrophication by reducing nutrient load significantly and there is a natural level of algal blooms.
In the shipwrecked state, municipalities have not addressed eutrophication and nutrients are kept being discharged. As a consequence, severe and annual algal blooms occur during long periods.

Contrasting these two scenarios in 2030, a 900 000 job difference for the Baltic Sea region is found. These jobs are mainly found within tourism industries, such as hotels and restaurants.

A copy of the full report can be downloaded at: If you have questions, please contact:

Barbara Jackson, Head of Race for the Baltic: [email protected] or +46 (0) 73 850 3358 Anna Linnerud Marketing Coordinator, The Boston Consulting Group: [email protected] or +46 73 079 4440

About Zennström Philanthropies and Race for The Baltic

Zennström Philanthropies was founded in 2007 by Niklas and Catherine Zennström. Its mission is to support and engage with organizations that fight for human rights, work to stop climate change, and encourage entrepreneurship in order to protect our natural environment and allow those who live in it to realize their full potential. For further information, please visit

Race For The Baltic started in 2013 as an initiative of Zennström Philanthropies and works to convene leaders made up of forward-thinking politicians, industry professionals, NGOs, and local governments who are determined to reverse the negative trends and restore the Baltic Sea environment, so as to ensure the long-term economic viability of the region. For further information, please visit

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 81 offices in 45 countries. For more information, please visit