Sustainable development and international cooperation in St. Petersburg

Last week, UBC Sustainable Cities Commission attended the XX anniversary of the annual international environmental forum “Baltic Sea Day” that was organized in St. Petersburg on 21–22 March 2019. More than 700 participants attended the forum from the countries of the Baltic Sea Region to exchange experiences and practices, propose solutions and discuss current and future cooperation.

The Baltic Sea Day 2019 addressed sustainable development of the Baltic Sea emphasizing the importance of international cooperation and coordination through e.g. developing Baltic Sea Action Plan. The two-day event involved an extensive program: during the first day, 14 parallel meetings and roundtable discussions were organized to highlight regional trends: solutions for nutrient recycling in the wastewater sector, marine litter, coastal erosion and effects of climate change on the Baltic Sea. With the practice-oriented first day, the second day programme launched a high-level plenary session as well as a panel discussion on Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy.

UBC Sustainable Cities were involved in two sessions during the first day: with the Advisory Board meeting in the afternoon, in the morning we, as the Lead Partner of the BSR WATER platform project, supported the organization of the practical discussion on potential solutions to enhance P-recycling in the wastewater sector. The BSR WATER platform engages several transnational projects contributing to the development of policy recommendations on nutrient recycling and handling hazardous substances, as well as to the expansion of expert network and exchange of practical experiences in the water sector. The policy work in the platform is developed in close cooperation with HELCOM preparing recommendations on nutrient recycling. In the framework of the BSR WATER session three projects presented their experiences with nutrient management and recycling possibilities, further engaging present experts in the discussion and opinion exchange.

More than 60 participants joined the discussion on P-recycling actively contributing to it with questions and comments, identifying aspects of the wastewater sector that need to be covered in the future. The session collected several practical suggestions for supporting the water sector that can be further utilized in the expansion and improvement of Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy developed by HELCOM.

During the second day, UBC Sustainable Cities were honoured with special attention, as the official programme included the award ceremony for contributions to the development of cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region and Baltic Sea Day Forum. The Head of our Secretariat Mr Björn Grönholm was awarded with an Order of Vladimir Vernadsky Ecological Foundation: such Orders are given for special achievements in the spheres of ecology and environmental protection. Later during the ceremony, our organization was acknowledged separately for our work towards sustainable development of the Baltic Sea Region.