Photo credit: Lars Lund Godbolt, BSSSC
A successful Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR)
Around 700 participants joined in on discussion on circular and sharing economy in the Baltic Sea Region at the EUSBSR Annual Forum in Gdansk 12-13 June
By: Lars Lund Godbolt (BSSSC) and Hanna Lehto (Let’s Communicate project)
More than 700 participants from governments, international organisations, NGOs, universities, local and regional administrations and businesses attended the Forum and shared their ideas on how the circular and sharing economy can provide answers to demographic changes and environmental challenges. The opening session on the Annual Forum addressed the main theme of the Forum, circular economy, and what it could mean to the well-being of the Baltic Sea. The welcoming words were among others given by Mieczysław Struk, Marshal of the Pomorskie Voivodeship (Lead Partner of the Forum), Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, and Roger Ryberg, Chairman of BSSSC (Co-Partner of the Forum).
The importance of circular economy
In all the welcoming speeches, circular economy was considered important.
- The Baltic Sea Region has a good basis, but more focus is needed to maintain its position as a forerunner. In addition, circular economy is a concept that needs everyone’s contribution because no one can do it alone, said Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska .
This is also a good example why macro-regional cooperation matter. Mr. Ryberg, BSSSC Chairman said, “There is a necessity to raise awareness on how an innovative circular economy can bring us closer to reaching several of our key targets in the EUSBSR. The important role that local and regional authorities, business sector, academia and NGOs have in this process should not be underestimated”.
In the opening session, the winners of the International Baltic Poster contest were also awarded and the report "No time to waste. Unlocking the circular potential of the Baltic Sea Region” was presented by Adam Czerniak, Chief Economist, Director for Research at Polityka Insight.
You may watch the opening session and all the plenary session here.
Read more about the opening session at the European Commission webpage here.
Going broad to save the sea
The three plenary sessions at the forum were dedicated to discussing circular economy from three different viewpoints: the environment, business and demographic perspectives.
In the first plenary “Going circular – a pathway to well-being in the Baltic Sea Region”, the panellists discussed if EUSBSR could be an example to other regions of implementing circular economy. The BSSSC funded report “Circular Baltic 2030 - Circular Economy in the Baltic Sea Region and Beyond” was also presented. The report showcases 28 examples of best practices on circular economy that can inspire other actors in the region and globally. Together, these illustrate some of the current trends and future needs of a shift towards a circular economy.
The second plenary, “Business-driven approach to circular economy in the Baltic Sea Region”, addressed the question how to use EUSBSR to increase circular economy related investments in the region, and how to improve cooperation between public and private sector.
“Demography and circularity in the Baltic Sea Region: interdependent or disconnected?” was the title of the third plenary that tackled the questions of aging population, migration and labour mobility and how circular economy could provide an answer to these challenges.
In addition to the plenaries, the Forum programme included diverse parallel seminars on circular economy and a networking village to meet EUSBSR stakeholders. In connection to the Forum, EUSBSR Horizontal Action Capacity organized a Participation Day on June 11, 2019 for stakeholders interested in joining the EUSBSR. To increase youth participation, a Baltic Youth Camp was organized on June 8-10 where EUSBSR was an essential part of the discussions.
The final session of the Forum concluded that as EUSBSR turns 10 years, we have reached a state of maturity, but we should not stop developing. Communicating the Strategy is more and more important, and particularly informing decision makers why proposed actions are worth doing.
Ann Irene Sæternes, Secretary General BSSSC said in her key note in the final session: “The EUSBSR enables us do things better together – through connecting people! Let’s therefore work together and make sure that the Baltic Sea Region Strategy becomes an even better framework for cooperation with more vivid engagement and more concrete results to be delivered”
She said that the participants should use the momentum created at the annual forum and therefore encouraged all the participants to take the knowledge, the discussions, the inspirations and the personal reflections with us back to our daily work. She said;
Inform and include our co-workers and leaders,
Talk about the achievements,
Develop new ideas and initiatives,
Communicate and interact,
Make better use of virtual as well as physical platforms!
This article contains some short summaries of the EUSBSR website’s article about the Annual Forum. To read more about the forum and see more pictures please go to the EUSBSR website.
The Forum was hosted by Pomorskie Voivodeship and organised in close cooperation with the Baltic Sea Subregional Co-operation (BSSSC)l, Polish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, European Commission and other partners. The Annual Forum was co-financed from the programme of Interreg Baltic Sea Region.