Kari Hyytiäinen to continue as professor of the economics of Baltic Sea protection

Professor Kari Hyytiäinen has served in an endowed professorship established by the City of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki since 2013. Key focus areas of the position include the cost-effectiveness of water protection, the blue economy, ecosystem services and welfare impact.

Kari Hyytiäinen has been invited to continue his work as the professor of the economics of Baltic Sea protection at the University of Helsinki. The endowed professorship is shared by the City of Helsinki and the University, and the funding period now agreed runs until the end of 2026.

Hyytiäinen’s first term in the position commenced in 2013. The professorship has produced a number of broad-based and politically relevant studies and analyses on, among other things, the prevention of eutrophication and alien species, a national marine environment management plan, oil spills, the uncertain effects of climate change and the Baltic Sea Action Plan of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission HELCOM.

The professorship has enabled the acquisition of significant additional research funding in the field, in addition to which it has produced numerous theses and practical project-based courses offered in master’s programmes.

A history of seamless cooperation with the city

Kari Hyytiäinen points out that cooperation with experts of the City of Helsinki has already been pleasant and inspiring during the previous terms.

“We have collaboratively considered ways to promote dialogue on the protection of the Baltic Sea and sought solutions to apply research findings to water protection. Through this collaboration, I have gained a great vantage point on practical water protection and set that against my own research and that conducted by others. Cooperation in education has been rewarding as well. The city’s experts have presented student groups with tricky practical challenges to analyse on their project-based courses.”

As the biggest challenges in Baltic Sea protection, Hyytiäinen highlights the simultaneous and comprehensive management of various environmental problems and threats.

“The Baltic Sea is a patient with multiple problems whose condition is gradually improving thanks to a reduction in the stress caused by harmful substances and nutrients. However, eutrophication remains a major issue, and additional reductions in nutrient loads require efforts that are increasingly difficult and expensive to implement. At the same time, the sea is subjected to stresses caused by a cocktail of new harmful substances, increasing underwater noise and a whole host of new threats.”

The goals for the upcoming term of the professorship are clear, and solutions in terms of a range of marine livelihoods are being sought, for example, in the currently ongoing BlueAdapt project.

“Many water protection measures employed to nurture the Baltic Sea, inland waterways and groundwater also promote goals relevant to the climate and biodiversity. And the synergies go the other way too: many measures that prevent biodiversity loss and mitigate climate change also improve the status of the waterways. In the coming term, I aim to seek, through research, solutions and policy instruments that relate to land use, consumption patterns and novel technical solutions in order to achieve these three goals as effectively as possible,” Hyytiäinen says.

A professorship at the core of Baltic Sea research

At the University of Helsinki, Professor Hyytiäinen is positioned at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. Dean Ritva Toivonen of the Faculty has been very happy with the collaboration conducted with the city.

“The professorship in the economics of Baltic Sea protection has been a concrete form of collaboration between the University and the city for a good time now. It serves as a kind of core that contributes to advancing and increasing the systematic nature of research and teaching relating to the Baltic Sea, as well as improving their accessibility to society, including the City of Helsinki. It would be great to see even further expansion of research and teaching in these fields, as well as the co-creation of research-based solutions, as part of our shared future. The increasingly topical field of the professorship is closely linked to the multidisciplinary Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, where the focus is on renewable natural resources and the circular bioeconomy.”

Dean Toivonen also links the position even more broadly to other research areas represented at Viikki Campus.
“The professorship combines economics, sustainability and the development of food and forest systems from the perspective of conserving the Baltic Sea and waterways in general. At the same time, it integrates themes central to many research organisations active on Viikki Campus.”

The City of Helsinki is awarding a total of €500,000 to the professorship in the economics of Baltic Sea protection in 2021–2026. After this, the professorship will be funded entirely by the University of Helsinki.