Dear UBC Friends! After ten years of intensive work in the Union of the Baltic Cities, I am now stepping aside from the position of UBC President. With gratitude I can tell you that these years have been exciting and eventful!
We have experienced so much positive development in the Baltic Sea Region. It has been extremely stimulating to be part of the co-operation and closely follow the region’s way to better future. Many things have changed in our countries and in our cities. Environment is a field where many changes are needed indeed.
From the very beginning, the Union has realised this and environmental co- operation has always been high on our agenda. During the 90’s, many of our Eastern members were dealing with investments to modern environmental technology. The UBC contributed by organising exchange of experiences and transfer of know-how.
However, environmental work is not only about technical solutions. Since the United Nations Conference in Rio 1992, more and more emphasis has been laid on sustainable development. The Rio Conference adopted the global Agenda 21 and challenged cities to work on local Agenda 21. Local Agenda 21 is a process full of nuances where a city can combine economic, social and environmental goals in the same strategy and action for sustainable development.
In my own country, Sweden, all cities have undergone the local Agenda 21 process in some way. In many cases results have been strikingly good. Since the fifth General Conference, Stockholm 1999, the UBC has had its own official Agenda 21 Action Program. The UBC Executive Board has followed the implementation, so I have had a chance to closely follow the work. The Commission on Environment, with good support from the city of Turku, has been responsible for its co-ordination and implementation. This has been followed up in an extraordinary way. Many good projects have been implemented and the member cities have been strongly contributing. I have especially liked the de-centralised approach where leadership responsibilities have been taken by different cities in different projects.
Now in the sixth General Conference, Rostock 12-13 October 2001, the UBC Agenda 21 Program will be renewed. I am quite confident about the success of this work also during the next two-year period.
I hope that all our members would start their own local Agenda 21 within next period. Finally I want Cordially to Thank the city of Turku, Carl Nielsen, Mikko Jokinen and Risto Veivo for an excellent work and many years of good friendship.