© John Nurminen Foundation
© John Nurmisen Säätiö


All eyes on August: planning the 2021 Baltic Sea Day kicked off with more than 160 partners

The Baltic Sea Day, born in 2019 out of the initiative of the John Nurminen Foundation, was a success beyond all expectations. In the 2021 Baltic Sea Day info session, organised in January, we heard lessons learned from the 2020 celebration, and shared ideas and implementation plans for the next Baltic Sea Day. In her speech, President Halonen emphasized the power of collaboration between neighbours. In the spring, we will also organise tailored workshops, and continue to make the Baltic Sea Day more international.

Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, CEO of the John Nurminen Foundation, opened the info session by welcoming all partners, old and new, to join the creation of the celebration:” One of the key themes of 2021 is being a forerunner: through our actions and example, we can build the Baltic Sea Day together into a great event, and make the Baltic Sea set an example for the other marine areas of the world. We can show the way in saving and respecting the sea, and in safeguarding marine culture. One great example from 2020 was the Baltic Sea Menu: On Baltic Sea Day, more than a quarter of a million fish dishes were served.”

Baltic Sea Day 2020 crushes all its goals

After the opening, the results and key learnings from the 2020 Baltic Sea Day were reviewed.

The John Nurminen Foundation launched the Baltic Sea Day in 2019 with the cities of Helsinki and Turku, and a few other key partners. During 2020, the Day was built into an extensive campaign, with a wide and multifaceted network of partners joining in. In 2020, the Baltic Sea Day did in fact exceed all its goals: the celebration of the sea was built by approximately 150 stakeholders, and a similar number of events and activities were organised.

Tuula Putkinen, Project Manager of the Baltic Sea Day, thanked all partners for their active cooperation: ”Even though the Baltic Sea Day is created and launched by the Foundation, the great results achieved last year were very much made possible by the enthusiastic partners who joined in. Working together and sharing a communal spirit are essential to the Baltic Sea Day. There are already many activities with a Baltic Sea theme, but the goal of the Baltic Sea Day is to build a celebration that each and every one of us can join, even internationally.”

The target of the Baltic Sea Day is to make the Baltic Sea the number one news item, at least once a year. One of the most important metrics measuring the success of the Baltic Sea Day is our ability to reach new audiences, and as wide a spectrum of people and organizations as possible for the Baltic Sea. This is why it is great that even in the year of our first actual celebration, in spite of the coronavirus, the Baltic Sea day was joined by so many participants: cities, schools, research institutions, universities, companies, divers, restaurants, foundations, media, and players of the cultural field, such as museums, libraries, and musicians.

In addition to the fact that the Baltic Sea Day spread out across Finland from Helsinki to Turku and Hamina to Siikalatva, with a total of 13 cities both on the coast and inland participating, the Day was also celebrated on an international scale. In 2020, the Baltic Sea Day was celebrated in Russia, Estonia, Sweden, and Latvia. The goal is to make the Baltic Sea Day even more international in the coming years.

President Halonen encourages all to join the “neighbourhood party”

The Baltic Sea Day info session also featured an encouraging speech by President Tarja Halonen. The President said that she believes Finland’s fearless and even happy-go-lucky attitude to things has encouraged also the neighbouring countries to join in.

“Last year, the Baltic Sea Day was celebrated with numerous events in Finland and also in the neighbouring countries – displaying diversity and a spectrum of voices heard. Great ideas were taken beyond the planning phase, as the numerous events bore witness to the importance of cooperation as well as the strength of the Baltic Sea’s ecological, cultural, and social capital. Cooperation must take place on the grassroots level”, said the President in her speech, encouraging all to take action on behalf of the Baltic Sea. ”The Baltic Sea is first and foremost a sea that belongs to us all, and a theme we share with our neighbours.”

Social media successes – #itämeripäivä is the most tweeted hashtag in Finland

The Baltic Sea Day took over social media already in the first year when an actual celebration was organised. The hashtag #itämeripäivä was the most tweeted in Finland all throughout the day, with more than 1,000 tweets sent. In Twitter alone, our joined forces reached almost two million accounts on Baltic Sea Day. The hashtag #Itämeri was also trending.

In addition to Twitter, the celebration of the sea was visible in busy Instagram traffic, where the Baltic Sea Day and The Plunge in particular spread organically in the Instagram stories and updates of various accounts. There were almost 2,000 feed posts, including shares, with the hashtag #itämeripäivä, and almost 5,400 when adding campaign hashtags to the number.

The wonderful variety of Baltic Sea Day participants was evident in social media, with Baltic Sea Day posts published by e.g. politicians, ministries, embassies, media, companies, cultural stakeholders, schools, associations, societies, and even Santa Claus! Presidents Sauli Niinistö and Tarja Halonen also drew attention to Baltic Sea Day celebrations in social media. Already in June, Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland, sent his special message to Baltic Sea Day participants, and at the early bird session of the Baltic Sea Day, we heard comments from President Halonen.

The #itämeridinner campaign launched at Christmas by Yle was a great precursor for the Baltic Sea Menu. The hilarious duo in Yle’s “Peltsi ja Tom Itämeren sankareina” (Peltsi and Tom as Baltic Sea heroes) was also very active in spreading the word on Baltic Sea Day in social media. In addition to social media visibility, the Baltic Sea Day was a major news item also in traditional media. The Baltic Sea was highlighted in e.g. Helsingin Sanomat, as the newspaper dedicated a full week in August to marine-themed stories. Länsi-Suomi and Kymen Sanomat were examples of regional media who were also actively involved.

Food, frolicking in water, and cultural moments: readily available ways to participate in the 2021 Baltic Sea Day

At the info session, Oona Piiroinen from the John Nurminen Foundation presented three Baltic Sea Day flagship campaigns: the Baltic Sea Menu, focusing on food, the waterway-themed The Plunge, and the culturally oriented Baltic Sea Moment. The goal is to make each flagship campaign go viral and help the Baltic Sea become the number one topic for the day.

The flagship campaigns are rallies with pre-planned concepts by the John Nurminen Foundation, in which any stakeholder or private individual can participate in the manner they choose on Baltic Sea Day. If planning your event or activity seems troublesome, you can always utilize the flagship campaigns that are ready for you to use.

You can participate in the Baltic Sea Menu by eating Baltic Sea friendly food in your home kitchen or at a restaurant. Those with culinary aspirations can create their own Baltic Sea Menus, supported by the tips on the Baltic Sea Day web pages, such as the Marthas’ Baltic Sea Menu and the Yle reseptikone recipe service, which was translated to Estonian already last year. Restaurants, for their part, can add a Baltic Sea friendly dish to their menus, implement a full-length Baltic Sea Menu, or offer a menu kit to be cooked at home.

The idea behind the Plunge is to enjoy the opportunities for recreation provided by waterways, and, on the other hand, to draw attention to the ecological status of the Baltic Sea. On Baltic Sea Day, people all around Finland and the Baltic Sea take the plunge in their local waters, lakes, rivers or ponds at 6 p.m. You can take the plunge in any natural waterway, and even just dip in your toe.

Baltic Sea Moments are dedicated to learning about the unique culture of our home sea. A Baltic Sea Moment can be e.g. a moment spent with a sea-themed podcast, or a visit to a waterway-themed art exhibition. You can enjoy a Baltic Sea Moment at any time during the Baltic Sea Day, alone or with company. We encourage museums, libraries, theatres and other cultural entities to participate in the Baltic Sea Moment by organising Baltic Sea themed exhibitions, guided tours, workshops and presentations, aimed at the general public.

Web pages improved based on feedback – announce your activity or event in good time

Already last year, in the last week of August, the brand new Baltic Sea Day web pages had more than 10,000 individual visitors, with almost 6,000 visitors on Baltic Sea Day. All information on the Baltic Sea Day will continue to be available at itämeripäivä.fi in Finnish, Swedish, and English.

The John Nurminen Foundation has developed the web pages further based on received feedback, and the updated version will be published in February-March. Kirsi Kurki-Miettinen from the John Nurminen Foundation explained that the pages will feature e.g. a Partners section, where the Foundation has collected all relevant tips and information pertaining to participation in the Baltic Sea Day, such as answers to frequently asked questions.

Via the web pages, you can continue to announce all your Baltic Sea Day events and activities, and subscribe to the Baltic Sea Day partner letter. In the future, partner letters are sent out as a newsletter, and also published in the web pages’ news section.

At the info session, participants were encouraged to announce their Baltic Sea Day activity or event already in spring, or no later than at the end of July. Events and activities that are available on the website in good time are more likely to receive visibility in Baltic Sea Day communications and marketing.

Open house at marine research vessels, angling meet, and other events in 2021

To close off the Baltic Sea Day info session, partners were given the opportunity to announce their plans for 2021. We heard e.g. of the Baltic Sea plogging challenge, organised by the Laguuni water sports centre, and of the sea-themed creative writing workshops organised by Åbo Akademi University. The Finnish Federation for Recreational Fishing, on the other hand, will take different kinds of groups angling, while the Marthas encourage all to enjoy a Baltic Sea friendly picnic. The Finnish Environment Institute SYKE plans to open the doors of marine research vessels in Helsinki and Turku to the general public. Markku Viitasalo from SYKE presented the VELMU Marine Environment 2021 campaign, which seeks to showcase the miracles of marine nature in the midst of the bustle of the city. Just like they did last year, the Korkeasaari Zoo will also join forces with various stakeholders on Baltic Sea Day.

Tove Holm, the Baltic Sea Challenge coordinator for the City of Turku, informed the audience of Turku’s plans, which range from riverside jazz events to clean-up rallies. The annual Europe Forum Turku, hosted by the city, also happens to take place on Baltic Sea Day. The planning of activities in the Turku area will continue in dedicated workshops.

Esa Nikunen, Director General of the City of Helsinki Environment Centre, stated that the Baltic Sea Day was an initiative very much in tune with the City’s aims:”once the John Nurminen Foundation had come up with the idea of a Baltic Sea Day, it was a very easy task to lure the City of Helsinki in. The Baltic Sea has been important to Helsinki throughout its existence, i.e. for almost 500 years!”

In 2020, the City of Helsinki participated in the Baltic Sea Day for example by serving fish burgers and patties to all customers, ranging from toddlers to seniors, of Service Centre Helsinki. During the day, as much as 4,500 kg of fish from the Baltic Sea was used in the city’s food services.

Planning continues in springtime workshops

The John Nurminen Foundation invites all its partners to work on the further planning of the events and activities of the Baltic Sea Day at themed workshops, organised next spring in line with the wishes of the Day’s partners.  If participants so desire, the Foundation will set up individual workshops for e.g. cities, companies, museums and libraries, and also listen to requests for other themed workshops. Separate, international info sessions will also be organised for partners in Estonia, Russia, and Sweden.

The workshop for stakeholders in Turku was organised immediately in the week following the info session, led by Tove Holm, the coordinator of Turku’s Baltic Sea challenge. In early February, 4.2.2021, we organised a workshop for Russia, with ten organisations, including maritime museums and restaurants, presenting their plans for Baltic Sea Day. The workshop for Sweden will be organised on 26 March 2021, and those interested in the event should kindly contact the John Nurminen Foundation.

More information:

Tuula Putkinen
Communications Director & Baltic Sea Day Project Manager, John Nurminen Foundation
tel. +358 (0)400 907 809
tuula.putkinen (at) jnfoundation.fi

Oona Piiroinen
Communications Specialist, John Nurminen Foundation
tel. +358 (0)50 434 4879
oona.piiroinen (at) jnfoundation.fi

Kirsi Kurki-Miettinen
Communications Officer, John Nurminen Foundation
tel. +358 (0)50 463 9305
kirsi.kurki-miettinen (at) jnfoundation.fi

Baltic Sea Day
The Baltic Sea Day, launched and coordinated by the John Nurminen Foundation, is celebrated every year on the last Thursday in August with various rallies and events. The goal of the theme day is to highlight important marine themes, and encourage people to take concrete action for the Baltic Sea. The Day celebrates the versatility and immeasurable value of the Sea. Moreover, the celebration seeks to disseminate information on marine nature, culture, and history. www.itämeripäivä.fi

John Nurminen Foundation – Baltic Sea protection and marine culture
Founded in 1992, the purpose of the John Nurminen Foundation is to save the Baltic Sea and its heritage for future generations. The Foundation has been awarded for its work as a communicator of information and producer of marine content. The goal of the Foundation’s Clean Baltic Sea projects is to improve the condition of the Baltic Sea with tangible measures that will reduce the load and environmental risks directed towards the sea. The work is steered by measurable results and impact.