It is with great pleasure that I am able to write this editorial for the Union of the Baltic Cities’ Environment Bulletin. In my wide and varied experiences over the years, it has been very clear to me that the countries and municipalities of the Nordic countries have led the way in many areas of environmental policy and protection, the same has been true with regards to sustainable development. The success of the UBC and its very effective environment committee reflects this strong commitment and the desire of Baltic State cities, from all countries, to both learn from and pass on their experiences within the context of the Baltic region.
The UBC has provided strong support to the European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign over the years. The Baltic Cities conference held in Turku in 1999 remains one of the clear practical ways in which the UBC actively supported the Campaign. The endorsement of the Campaign within the UBC’s LA21 has also encouraged a large number of municipalities within the Baltic region to sign the Aalborg Charter and participate in the Campaign.
The Campaign has grown substantially over the years and now has over 1250 participants from 36 European countries. In recognition of its continuing growth and development, the Campaign’s co-ordination committee in co-operation with a number of other local authority networks, including the UBC has recently decided to widen the participation of other networks within the Campaign’s structure. The Campaign’s new Steering Committee will include networks that exist in more than four European countries, represent primarily local authorities, have sustainable development as one of their foci and are committed to the implementation of the Aalborg Charter, Lisbon Action Plan and the Hannover Call. Within this new Steering Committee, the participation of the UBC will be eagerly awaited, further strengthening the support of the network to the Campaign.
The development of the Campaign should also be seen within the context of the EU’s ‘Community Framework for Co-operation to Promote Sustainable Urban Development’. The European Commission at the recent Barcelona conference entitled ‘Sustainable Urban Development in the Urban Environment’ provisionally launched the framework. This framework will provide support to networks, operating in more than four European countries with help in a variety of areas such as sustainable urban development, urban environment and local agenda 21. The framework will enable co-operation between actors, through the development and transfer of training, knowledge and good practice within cities and towns.
This new framework will provide the opportunity to further support the Campaign and the activities of networks, such as the UBC, in further developing and promoting the good work that has been started in recent years.
Prof. Colin Fudge
Chair of the EU Expert Group on the Urban Environment and of the Technical Co-ordination Committee of the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign