What is the Baltic Health Index? Listen to centre researcher Thorsten Blenckner and Julie Stewart Lowndes from National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California explain .

Baltic Health Index

The Baltic Health Index is a regional study under the global Ocean Health Index framework. The aim is to initiate the development of a tool that can be used by decision-makers to guide management of the Baltic Sea region towards increased sustainability.

The Ocean Health Index is a global assessment of ocean health, focusing on the ability of oceans to continue to produce the ecosystem services and products that humans depend on. The Index establishes reference points for achieving ten social-ecological goals and measures how well each country meets these goals in their exclusive economic zones in the ocean.

Initially published in the journal Nature (Halpern et al. 2012), the Ocean Health Index (OHI) is the first comprehensive ocean assessment that also includes humans as a part of the marine ecosystems. The Ocean Health Index provides an integrated measure of sustainable ocean management using available natural and social science data.

A regional study of the Baltic Sea
The Baltic Health Index is a project jointly led by Stockholm Resilience Centre and Baltic Eye at the Baltic Sea Centre, both at Stockholm University, together with the Ocean Health Index team. The project is funded by Baltic Ecosystem Adaptive Management (BEAM, a research programme on ecosystem-based management of the Baltic Sea), Baltic Eye and the Johansson Family Foundation.

The Baltic Health Index formally started in 2015 and will run until late 2016. A trans-disciplinary project, it involves researchers from around the Baltic Sea who consult on the  development of a region-specific Index based on a comprehensive assessment of existing data.

The project is led by centre researcher Thorsten Blenckner and a project core team (see the top right box). Researchers appointed as Goalkeepers are together with the core team responsible for one goal each, and work with teams of researchers who are experts on subjects central to each goal. The Steering group includes centre director Johan Rockström , Tina Elfwing from the Baltic Sea Centre, Thorsten Blenckner, and Ben Halpern from OHI, NCEAS and it is responsible for the over-arching project development and external representation.

Engagement with Regional Experts
A project kick-off workshop with invited researchers was held in Stockholm in April 2015. The initial phase, which entailed gathering of data and initial calculation of the Index, ran through 2015 and early 2016.

The Baltic Health Index (BHI) project hosted a workshop at Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) on 15-16th of March 2016. The workshop gathered experts in the natural and social sciences, communications, and policy from the Baltic Sea region. The workshop was jointly led by the SRC team and the Ocean Health Index researchers from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California. The workshop updated participants on the progress for each index goal. Participants also engaged in in-depth discussions on conceptual and data challenges associated with the goals of Economies and Livelihoods, Biodiversity, Carbon Storage, and Artisanal Opportunities as well as the implementation of pressure and resilience attributes.

The BHI team's focus is now on implementing goal calculations and obtaining expert feedback until the launch, planned for late 2016.

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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