UBC Sustainable Cities Commission at the 10th EUSBSR Annual Forum
The 10th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was organized in the beautiful Polish Baltic Frederic Chopin Philharmonic in Gdansk, Poland, on June 12th to 13th. The theme of this year’s forum was demographic changes along with the circular and shared economy – the discussions were, in other words, timely and important for the development of the BSR!
The forum offered several interesting plenary sessions and many parallel seminars to choose from. The topics of demographic changes and circular economy enabled various perspectives and possibilities to learn from the region’s experts. Presentations given by EU Commissioners and DG representatives, local politicians, researchers and others resulted in a multilayered perspective on the future of the BSR. The region is facing challenges such as an aging population, migration, consequences of climate change and the changing environment. The BSR also has assets to deal with these challenges, such as effective and functional regional networks and cooperation organizations. The UBC Sustainable Cities Commission representatives took part in seminars on e.g. smart specialization, industrial symbiosis, recycling, bio economy and mobility. Some of us also attended seminars as invited experts: Ms Sini Lamoureux took part in a panel on the topic What will demographic changes bring to BSR accessibility? where she presented the cities.multimodal project.
Networking for Success
Besides the organized panels and seminars, the forum also offered the possibility to network with other stakeholders in the region. The UBC Sustainable Cities Commission had a stand in the Networking Village where participants could learn more about the UBC in general. The stand served its purpose well and the UBC had the opportunity to network with a large number of stakeholders and interested participants from all over the BSR. A map of UBC cities was a great way to start a conversation with visitors, and many stayed for a while to have a chat with us. We are happy to see a big interest for UBC projects and initiatives!
Water Projects in the Heart of Cooperation
UBC Sustainable Cities was also presented at the Forum through one of the practical sides of our work: transnational projects for improving the state of the Baltic Sea. One of the projects, BSR WATER platform on integrated water cooperation had a stand together with the Policy Area ‘Nutri’ to demonstrate successful cooperation in smart water management through both actions and activities of the platform and its contributing projects (e.g. IWAMA, which is led by the UBC Sustainable Cities – was also present at the stand of projects from Interreg Baltic Sea Region).
The PA Nutri stand was extremely popular among the participants: water-related challenges are inevitably common in the region, and what the Baltic Sea Region needs is smart solutions – precisely what BSR WATER aims for while developing regional policy recommendations and promoting online platform for water expertise Baltic Smart Water Hub.
BSR WATER was also among presenters and panelists: the seminar Safe nutrient recycling for cleaner Baltic Sea launched by PA Nutri and PA Hazards together with HELCOM Secretariat allowed in-depth discussions on development of the Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy that is now being under preparation. The seminar involved representatives of different sectors (water company, fertilizers' producer, university, national ministry and the EU Commission) into the talk resulting in not only listed challenges to the question of nutrient recycling, but also emphasized long-term benefits for the companies to engage in nutrient recovery. More details about the seminar available on the BSR WATER website.
UBC Commissions for Climate Change Adaptation Work
Back to back with the event, the Advisory Board of the UBC Sustainable Cities Commission organized its meeting. The Advisory Board evaluated the current situation among the UBC member cities and decided on activities in preparation for the UBC XV General Conference in Kaunas 15 – 18 October 2019.
As the forum’s themes were close-knit to climate change issues, the Advisory Board also looked into alternatives and opportunities regarding climate change adaptation actions within the UBC network. As the UBC cooperation with CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) reaches its third year, the Advisory Board also explored the reporting process for 2019 and examined findings from the previous year’s report.
Right after the Advisory Board meeting, representatives of the UBC Sustainable, Planning and Safe Cities Commissions gathered in the seaside city of Gdynia to discuss even further the joint actions and future plans of the three commissions. The discussion was led by Ms Evelin Piirsalu of Stockholm Environment Institute Tallinn Center, who introduced the new CASCADE project (Community Safety Action for Climate Change Adaptation) and the opportunities the project brings to the Cities. As a result, the members of the three UBC commissions addressed the need for cross-sectoral cooperation related to climate change adaptation and risk assessment work and agreed on combining efforts even more in the near future to tackle climate change related risks the region.