O_sterblom, H. et al.
Effectively reducing cumulative impacts on marine ecosystems requires co-evolution between science, policy and practice. Here, long-term social–ecological changes in the Baltic Sea are described, illustrating how the process of making the ecosystem approach operational in a large marine ecosystem can be stimulated. The existing multi-level governance institutions are specifically set up for dealing with individual sectors, but do not adequately support an operational application of the ecosystem approach. The review of ecosystem services in relation to regime shifts and resilience of the Baltic Sea sub-basins, and their driving forces, points to a number of challenges.