Scenarios for maritime areas 2050


Scenarios for the future of the maritime area and their impact assesment were created for maritime spatial planning. The scenarios discuss the changes in the operating environment of the maritime area as well as the needs and views of interest groups regarding the future development of the Finnish maritime area. The assessment concerns, in particular, energy, maritime transport, environment, fishing and aquaculture, cultural heritage, tourism and recreational use, defence, marine industries, biotechnology and mineral extraction industries.

The scenarios presented here are descriptions of the possible and alternative futures of the operating environment in Finnish maritime areas until 2050. They are not an attempt to predict the future; instead, they are intended for the development of thinking and perspectives. The scenarios guide towards varied and consistent thinking over some alternative future options and thereby enhance the conditions for interpreting and understanding current phenomena and enhancing the planning of operations and the ability to respond.

The scenarios described here may seem more or less likely for different people. The purpose is not, however, to select one scenario above others by placing the scenarios in an order of likelihood or preference. Instead, the overall picture formed by the scenarios should be viewed. The events taking place in the future are often a combination of different scenarios.

In this document, the descriptions of maritime areas presented in the scenarios as well as the risks and opportunities are a compilation of materials of the workshops organised in spring 2019. The work has been commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment.

Change agents of the operating environment

Focus of the maritime area scenarios

Three alternative images of the future at the Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea as a source of energy and minerals

  • The EU has been moving towards a more liberal market and deregulation is ongoing. The interests of companies and cities are steering the development more than the state.
  • In addition to food production, maritime areas are being utilised especially as raw material for high added value products for the needs of companies.
  • Environmental politics are ineffective and we are not getting rid of fossil fuels as we wanted. Offshore wind power is built by large global corporations as very extensive farms with little regulation.
  • Autonomous vessels are becoming more common in the Baltic Sea. The Helsinki–Tallinn tunnel is constructed with the support of Chinese investments, which has an impact on passenger traffic in particular. Maritime logistics are increasing, also in the Arctic Sea (the Northern Sea Route).
  • Population concentrates in the biggest cities around the Baltic Sea. Climate refugees increase the passenger flows of the Baltic Sea.
  • The Baltic Sea has regressed to a difficult patient as eutrophication and oxygen loss aggravate in all maritime areas. The living conditions of key species and communities are under threat.
  • Aquaculture increases as it becomes more profitable and production focuses on larger and larger units.
  • Tourist interest is focused on the large cities and cultural heritage of the Baltic Sea. The poor condition of the maritime environment reduces nature and cultural tourism in the archipelago.

Baltic Sea as an oasis of recreation and experiences

  • Concern over the environment is increasing and climate issues become a central focus of politics. Consumers are more environmentally aware and their choices also guide companies towards providing sustainable solutions.
  • The search for renewable forms of energy is strong and the state supports the connection of offshore wind power to the grid. Production is profitable also further from the shore.
  • The electrification of traffic also reaches to waters.
  • Small volume transport becomes more and more common, which moves the load from the sea to the air and also improves the accessibility and services of the archipelago. Local traffic and logistics are emphasised.
  • People seek clean nature in increasing volumes. New housing trends and the transformation of work life increase the popularity of the archipelago also for living.
  • The harmful impact of climate change on the weather at the Baltic Sea turns out to be less severe than expected.
  • Natural fish populations gain strength and professional and leisure fishing increase within the boundaries allowed by the environment.
  • Strict environmental regulation restricts the increase of large-scale aquaculture on the sea and fish farming in closed water systems becomes more common, especially on the ground.
  • The calm and clean environment and the improved service offering attract new tourists to the Baltic Sea from nearby countries. The majority of tourism concerns the Archipelago Sea and nature sites.

Baltic Sea as a breadbasket and strategic playing field

  • The power struggle between global superpowers has escalated into a trade war and tensions between the West and Russia are increasing in the Baltic Sea. The uncertain security situation reduces investments.
  • Cooperation between EU countries increases and the union tightens its control especially with respect to environmental and energy politics.
  • Energy self-sufficiency on the European level is emphasised and a joint energy union of the EU is created. Renewable energy, such as offshore wind power, is subsidised and farms are constructed alongside transfer cables.
  • The strategic importance of logistics routes is emphasised and the ports of the west coast become stronger. Passenger traffic reduces substantially especially in the south.
  • Internal mobility within EU increases and Finland’s biggest coastal cities keep their vitality. The infrastructure of the archipelago gets weaker.
  • Signs of climate change can be observed in the weather conditions, but the Baltic Sea is still a favourable environment for many sources of livelihood.
  • Environmental cooperation with Russia is challenging, which has a negative impact on the state of the maritime environment.
  • Efforts to reach self-sufficiency in the production of protein increase aquaculture and production becomes multifold, focusing on the Bay of Bothnia and the Archipelago Sea in particular.
  • Tourism has become more difficult and local recreation is emphasised. Tourism potential is aimed towards the Bay of Bothnia.