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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Promise and performance of agricultural nutrient management policy: Lessons from the Baltic Sea

Thorsoe, Martin Hvarregaard; Andersen, Mikael Skou; Brady, Mark V.; Graversgaard, Morten; Kilis, Emils; Pedersen, Anders Branth; Pitzen, Samuli; Valve, Helena


Following decades of international collaboration to restore the Baltic Sea, we provide an assessment of the domestic implementation of measures agreed to limit diffuse agricultural pollution and the patterns of policy instruments applied. Despite the Helsinki Convention being unusually specific in detailing what measures countries should introduce, we find many shortcomings. These are most pronounced in the larger countries (Poland, Germany and Russia), while smaller countries perform better, notably Sweden and Estonia. The patterns of policy instruments applied differ, influenced by domestic politics. The limited use of complementary policy instruments suggests that other priorities overrule full and effective implementation, with engagement mirroring the advantages that a restored Baltic Sea can bring to countries. Using the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to support farmers in managing nutrients, particularly advisory services and investments in modern manure management technologies, represents a significant opportunity for reducing agricultural pollution in most countries.


Agri-environment; CAP; HELCOM; Marine policy; Policy instrument; Rural development

Published in

AMBIO :: A Journal of the Human Environment
2021, volume: 51, number: 1, pages: 36-50
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Thorsoe, Martin Hvarregaard
Aarhus University
Andersen, Mikael Skou
Aarhus University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics
Graversgaard, Morten
Aarhus University
Kilis, Emils
Baltic Studies Centre (BSC)
Pedersen, Anders Branth
Aarhus University
Pitzen, Samuli
Finnish Environment Institute
Valve, Helena
Finnish Environment Institute

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG14 Life below water
SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

UKÄ Subject classification

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Publication Identifiers


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