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Water binds together the populations of the cities around the Baltic Sea. This has been the case throughout history and now the cooperation is being further developed. Closer ties are emerging through contacts between countries, through the many different joint projects and the positive spirit of cooperation that are in the process of being consolidated.
We all share an asset represented by the Baltic Sea, but we also share responsibility for protecting and restoring the environment and quality of the water, so that this sea can continue to be a source of recreation, culture, fishing, trade and contacts.
The Swedish Government is giving priority to combating climate change and improving the marine environment. These issues are closely connected with development in the cities around the Baltic Sea. These cities are becoming increasingly important for the economy, for growth and for the environment. Aesthetic urban design is part of daily life of an increasing number of people. Continued urbanisation has meant that a majority of the world’s populations already live in cities. Achieving sustainable development for our cities and developing sustainable societies are key issues for the future. Cities and municipalities have a vital role in this work. A firm foundation already exists. Many of the worst emissions of polluted water from the cities have been dealt with. An increasing number of cities are giving priority to sustainable urban development, to local Agenda 21 work and sustainable development. Cooperation within the UBC is an important part of these efforts. It is also positive that a growing number of cities have signed the Aalborg Commitments. Work in the EU to promote sustainable urban development and cooperation within Baltic 21 are other important inputs.
The future potential of a vital Baltic Sea region with sustainable cities is enormous. Even now, sustainable urban development projects such as Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm are attracting delegations from all over the world. The export of environmental technology and know-how, in connection with sustainable town planning has the potential to make a significant contribution to growth and economic development in our countries.
The Swedish Government is currently investing in encouraging the development of sustainable societies and environmentally-driven growth. This involves supporting urban development projects that, with advanced technology, systems thinking and peak environmental performance, are helping to demonstrate the development potential of sustainable societies. A special delegation will be given the task of contributing to methods development and supporting existing positive initiatives for sustainable urban development. Our ambition is to be able to encourage projects such as new, completely climate neutral urban areas or to contribute to the renovation of older housing areas that minimise the use of energy and create a more integrated city. Together let us continue our efforts to achieve sustainable cities around a living Baltic Sea.
Minister for the Environment, Sweden