PROBALT : Improving societal conditions for the Baltic Sea protection

International ERANET BONUS+ project in cooperation with:


Eutrophication is among the major challenges which threaten the marine environment of the Baltic Sea. Although the reasons are well known and various instruments and strategies to combat the problem are available, yet no efficient protection of the Baltic Sea has been achieved. Instead any policy processes aiming at addressing eutrophication suffer from blockades and inefficiencies. What is the reason for that failure?

PROBALT aims at answering this question by conducting case studies on the protection policies of the Baltic Sea coastal states and integrating them into a comparatistic multilevel analysis, which also comprises studies of the regional (institutions of Baltic Sea cooperation) and European (primarily EU) levels. Using the deliberative policy analysis approach, the basic research assumption is that political decisions are not just results of rationally steered bargaining processes. Instead societal actors, rather than moving straight ahead and directly pursuing their interests, seem at first to perceive political challenges in the light of their own subjective context. For environmental policy making this means that intervening variables such as socio-economic, bureaucratic, ideological and cultural aspects have a strong and eventually negative impact on how a problem is perceived and how effectively measures for overcoming it are being elaborated.

In addition to the production of new scientific knowledge about societal conditions for the Baltic Sea protection, PROBALT aims at raising concern about the state of the sea in individual countries by engaging the media and training journalists (in cooperation with Media21, Geneva). PROBALT will provide political and societal actors with best practice examples and policy recommendations for more effectively combating eutrophication and contribute to the formation of a regional advocacy coalition.

As a consequence of the division of tasks within the project the Division for Peace and Conflict Research in Kiel conducts the case studies on “Germany” and on the “European level”. The working language of the project is English.

A more comprehensive presentation of the project as well as background material and news on the project's progress may be found on the PROBALT-homepage at

PROBALT is financed under the BONUS+ program. The German sub-project is supported by a grant from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) .