Dear UBC Friends
Some months ago it was my city’s great pleasure to host the First Regional European Sustainable Cities and Towns Conference, the Baltic Local Agenda 21 - Health and Sustainable Cities Conference. Many of you came to Turku then and together the four hundred of us turned this conference into a milestone event in international co-operation for a sustainable Baltic Sea Region and Europe. I would like to express my city’s warm gratitude to the UBC Network for its great contribution to this event and to all of you whom my city had the pleasure to host.
Together we made a good progress in many fields of sustainable devel- opment. We contributed strongly to the local level implementation of Baltic 21, we brought into focus the social and health aspects, and we successfully sought for ways of future development of the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign. In the Conference Statement important goals were set for our future cooperation. Our common goal, as expressed in the Statement, shall be that a vast majority of municipalities in each of the Baltic Sea Region countries shall have their own Local Agenda 21 process started before the end of year 2000. As a part of this work, each individual municipality is also asked to identify and work towards five key commitments for sustainable development. In Turku, we have already taken the first step to implement these principles. Our City Board has decided that Turku will regard sustainability as one of the most important criteria when decisions about purchasing any goods or services for the city are made. I am very glad that similar commitments are constantly being taken in an increasing number of UBC member cities.
The commitments and actions taken by respective municipalities are to be reported at the Third Pan-European Sustainable Cities and Towns Conference in Hannover 9-11 February 2000. As the Union of the Bal- tic Cities already has become one of the driving forces of sustainable development in the region, I would like to suggest strongly that we would all accept this challenge of the Turku Statement. Let’s do our best to ensure that the UBC member cities will reach the goals set in it. This work is of course in many ways very relevant for our cities and countries. It may be very pleasant for all of us to notice once again in Hannover that we can be European forerunners in international co-op- eration for sustainability. This is, however, not the most important point. The future of our cities is to a great extent in our hands. It is our great chance to make this future a sustainable one. It is for the good of all our citizens - not least to the “Children of Baltic”. I think that this truly is a challenge we cannot refuse.
Mayor of Turku