Finland and the Bear: Eutrophication and International Conflict on the Baltic Sea

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Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Isaac Castellano


Will eutrophication of the Baltic Sea lead to armed conflict between Finland and Russia? The government of Finland claims that Russia’s pollution of the Baltic Sea is an ongoing environmental concern for them and that further dumping of untreated waste water will lead to conflict between the two states. I test this by showing the effects of Russia’s continued dumping of nitrogen- and phosphorous-rich waste water on the increase of hypoxic zones in the Baltic Sea and on the decrease in Finnish financial productivity. This information is based on data collected by the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) in 2013 and water conflict data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Finally, I theorize about the effects of treaties and other national and international institutions on the probability of armed or political conflict between Finland and Russia based on historical relations among the Baltic States and Russia. My findings indicate that while there is a positive correlation between water pollution and conflict, Finland and Russia themselves may not actually be headed toward armed conflict, regardless of foreign policy declarations from Finland.

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