The role of municipalities in the region
The 19th International Environmental Forum “Baltic Sea Day” was held last week in St. Petersburg, Russia. Around 500 participants gathered on 22–23 March to discuss the environmental state of the sea and local and regional solutions to improving it. The organization of the forum is supported by HELCOM.
During the plenary session, speakers emphasized the need of introducing innovations in the existing environmental systems and having a strategic approach to the occurring ecological problems. Further, the views on the current state of the Baltic Sea and highlights on the spheres where the improvement is seen crucial in the upcoming years were provided by representatives of HELCOM and Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS).
The forum “Baltic Sea Day” brought together many cities of the Baltic Sea Region, local and regional organizations working on sustainability issues to share and discuss challenges and formulate local needs. Throughout several organized roundtables, participants could share views on various topics: water management and urban development issues, maritime spatial planning, international cooperation in the projects, as well as ecological education.
The roundtable “Local Baltic Sea Action Plan – the role of municipalities in implementation if the HELCOM BSAP” focused on the topic of involving municipalities in the regional work. This roundtable combined three networks and initiatives: UBC Sustainable Cities Commission, Baltic Sea Challenge network and Race for the Baltic in their efforts and work towards boosting the development of municipalities and implementing the BSAP targets.
The discussion involved also four cities that are members of these networks: Panevezys from Lithuania, Kalmar and Växjö from Sweden and Slupsk from Poland. Representatives of these municipalities together with the networks and moderators from the cities of Turku and Helsinki, and HELCOM have actively discussed possibilities of harnessing international collaboration for strategic water protection and ways to engage cities in local implementation of the BSAP.
For UBC Sustainable Cities Commission, this discussion was also relevant as providing a context for the Advisory Board meeting organized in the framework of the “Baltic Sea Day” forum. The Advisory Board co-chairs and members discussed news and trends from their cities, the work of our Commission, and planned the next meeting of the Sustainable Cities Commission.