Dear Baltic Sea friend,

As the Baltic Sea Region moves into spring and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) into the second half of its Estonian Presidency, the CBSS invites its stakeholders to take part in a review questionnaire focusing on current impressions of cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. 

As our stakeholder and thus a recipient of Balticness Light, you are of vital importance to our work. Only by knowing more about your current engagement and views on regional cooperation and the CBSS, can we maintain and strengthen our work in 2015 and the years to come.  

The questionnaire will reach your mailbox in the middle of March. Meanwhile, we would like to invite you to take a moment to look back on CBSS activities from the past winter.

March 2015

Regional Roundtables as a part of the Committee of Senior Officials meetings under the Estonian Presidency

In continuation of the Roundtable on Sustainable & Prosperous Region in September, two more roundtables on Regional Identity and Safe & Secure Region were held back to back with the second and third CSO meetings, in respect to the three long-term priorities of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS).

The Roundtable on Regional Identity at the CBSS Secretariat in Stockholm in December was opened by Anna Cara Keim, contributor to the publication “Facets of Identity - the Baltic Sea Region” and a second keynote speech was given by Karina Petersone, Director of the Latvian Institute. Projects on culture, education, entrepreneurship, creative industries and youth cooperation were presented by experts and partners of the region to emphasise actions and future possibilities to implement the new long term priority Regional Identity.

The third and last roundtable of the series, which focused on the long term priority Safe & Secure Region took place on 3 February in Tallinn. Stakeholders and experts gathered to speak about their respective fields such as child protection, counter-trafficking and civil protection. Eva Blaudet (Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, and National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking of Finland) addressed common challenges, newest trends and responses needed to prevent human trafficking. Another keynote speech on the topic of building societal security through trans-boundary partnership in the Baltic Sea Region was given by Professor Bengt Sundelius, Strategic Advisor to the Director General of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, MSB.

 

(Helena Lindberg, Director General at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency)

Baltic Leadership Programme in Civil Protection

Under the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Priority Area Secure and as a collaboration between the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, the Swedish Institute, and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), the Baltic Leadership Programme in Civil Protection for Future Decision-Makers was held in the beginning of December 2014 in Tallinn, Estonia.

The four day event included activities, such as scenario-based group work and tabletop exercises, designed by the Crisis Management Research and Training department (CRISMART) of the Swedish Defence College, thus creating a platform for advanced inter-cultural problem solving, knowledge and experience sharing.

Welcoming remarks were given by Helena Lindberg, Director General of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, and Hannes Kont, Deputy Secretary General of the Estonian Ministry of Interior, before they joined a panel discussion on the foundations for regional cooperation of societal security, emphasising the added value of knowledge exchange and cooperation mechanisms in the Baltic Sea Region. Furthermore, a number of presentations were given by opinion leaders in the field, such as Ian Clark, Head of Unit, DG ECHO, European Commission, and Alyson Bailes, former Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The event was moderated by Bengt Sundelius, Strategic Advisor at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and Anthony Jay Olsson, Head of Media and Communications, Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat.

The EUSBSR flagship project is new of its sort, as it gathers together future decision-makers in the field of Civil Protection with the aim of gradually building an international network to enhance Baltic Sea Region cooperation in various fields of safety and security. By doing so, the programme also aims to equip the participants with the tools and perspectives needed to manage cross-border collaboration between diverse organisations in intercultural contexts. In that capacity the programme provides a follow up to the Baltic Leadership Programme in Civil Protection for Project Leaders. 

 

Climate Dialogue in the Baltic Sea Region 

 

On 12th November, the 3rd Round Table of the Baltic Sea Region Climate Change Dialogue Platform took place in Tallinn, hosted by the Estonian Ministry of the Environment.

The meeting, which was opened by Jörgen Talkop, Director of the Estonian Ministry of the Environment, was set to especially discuss focus areas of transnational cooperation in climate change in the Baltic Sea Region. For this occasion, the round table included representatives from the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS) member countries, as well as pan–Baltic and other organisations, such as the European Environment Agency (EEA), Baltic Earth Programme, and VASAB.

Aiming to deepen the scope of dialogue and cooperation, the round table drew on current processes and projects. After status reports on National Adaptation Strategies by Estonia and Sweden, Kristiina Nuottimäkii, Geologist (MSc) from the Geological Survey of Finland, gave a presentation on the topic of water and drainage, which is seen as one key sector challenged by climate change in the Baltic Sea Region.

The meeting also provided updates on two upcoming potential flagship projects on climate action in the Baltic Sea Region within the framework of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). Whereas Balloon is supporting the development of low carbon economy policies in the Baltic Sea Region, ClimUrban works towards urban flood management in order to decrease discharge of hazardous substances into the Baltic Sea. Both flagship projects are funded by EUSBSR Seed Money Facility and developed under EUSBSR Horizontal Action Sustainable Development, with ClimUrban being jointly developed with EUSBSR Priority Area Secure.

The 3rd round table decided on the elaboration of a Baltic Sea Region Climate Adaptation Inventory, which will provide a framework to promote knowledge and data exchange within the region. Similarly, the development of an Awareness Raising and Capacity Building Project Climate Adaptation was initiated.

The 4th Round Table of the Baltic Sea Region Climate Change Dialogue Platform will take place on 29th April 2015, back to back with the 12th meeting of the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development.  

 

The Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue takes to Brussels

 

The images of the virtual exhibition #balticeye taken by the participants of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue are now on display in the premises of the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) at the European Commission in Brussels. Around 70 guests attended the opening event on 29 January, including representatives of DG NEAR.

Lena Andersson Pench, Director of DG REGIO, welcomed the guests, addressing the importance of a cross-border dialogue of young Europeans and the EU’s involvement in the questions of regional identity. Ambassador Eduardas Borisovas, Deputy Director General of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Secretariat, emphasised the necessity of an open discussion on whether a Baltic identity exists, and if so, what it could look like.

The next steps for the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue will be a gathering of last years´ participants in Potsdam on 15-27 June 2015 and the continuation of the programme in Olsztyn, Poland in September 2015 under the Polish CBSS Presidency.

 

Municipalities in the chain of assistance 

 

On 3 November 2014, the Council of the Baltic Sea States Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB), in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Latvia, commenced a transnational project STROM. It aims to strengthen the capacity and role of municipalities in the chain of assistance to victims of human trafficking in the Baltic Sea Region. The project will run til October 2015 and is funded by the CBSS Project Support Facility, the Swedish Institute and the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Latvia.

In order to assess the current role and responsibilities of municipalities in the chain of assistance to victims of all forms of human trafficking and develop effective anti – trafficking policies at the local level, a baseline assessment will be carried out in the Baltic Sea Region.

Regional experts from the municipalities in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, the Russian Federation and Sweden will meet in a regional expert group meeting in May 2015 in Riga to share and analyse the local mechanisms in place to deal with cases of human trafficking.

The culmination of the project will be specific Guidelines for Municipalities outlining the main challenges and best practices in dealing with human trafficking cases at the local level.

Furthermore, STROM will specifically focus on the often neglected area: prevention of human trafficking. Local stakeholders who are in the position to identify and assist victims of human trafficking will be provided with an expert knowledge, tools and innovative solutions to effectively prevent this crime at the local level.

The Baltic Sea Region Border Control Cooperation Conference of the Heads of Border Guards  

The Heads of Border Conference was held in November 2014 in Tallinn by the Baltic Sea Region Border Control Cooperation (BSRBCC). The conference serves as the highest forum for exchange of opinions and experiences in border control cooperation of the Baltic Sea Region.

With welcoming words from Hanno Pevkur, Minister of the Interior of Estonia and with Ambassador Raul Mälk, Chair of CSO, presenting the activities during the Estonian BSRBCC Presidency, the Conference concluded the Estonian BSRBCC Presidency and marked the handover to Lithuania.

Looking back at the year 2014, the conference summed up a number of activities during the Estonian BSRBCC Presidency, such as the Aviation Experts’ Seminar and the Seminar of the Identification of Pleasure Boats; as well as presenting the second Annual Threat Assessment on illegal migration in the Baltic Sea Region.

With Lithuania taking over the BSRBCC Presidency, the Action Plan for 2015 was presented, including the continuation of the Baltic Law Enforcement Analysis Cooperation (BALANCE), a flagship project under the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) and financed by the CBSS Project Support facility. Led by the Finnish Border Guards, the project aims to define the needs for cooperative structure for law enforcement authorities operating in the Baltic Sea Region. 

Balticlab kicks off its third year with more countries and new ambitions

 

On 12-14 December 2014, a group of 65 talented creatives and entrepreneurs gathered in Stockholm for the Balticlab 3.0: Networking Weekend. Curated by the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the Swedish institute, the group consisted of bright minds from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Poland in the age range of 23-33.

The participants spent 3 days engaging in group discussions, workshops and open seminars focusing on the topics of creativity, future-thinking and entrepreneurship. The overarching theme of the weekend was "the future of the Baltic Sea region" and how the participants can relate to the region around them and use its full potential in their own line of work. The participants were invited to connect and create a strong network of individuals, who collectively link the region and act as future-frontrunners in their own respective fields.

As a follow up to the Balticlab 3.0: Networking Weekend, Balticlab 3.0: Ideation will be held this spring with 31 participants from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Poland. The Ideation is designed for a smaller curated group of participants selected from Balticlab 3.0: Networking Weekend and aims to provide space for building innovative ideas and projects prototypes, which span across disciplines, countries and gender. The Ideation is divided into three project-building modules, taking place in Riga (19-22 March), Warsaw (21-24 May) and Gothenburg (27-30 August). 

Beginnings of a Baltic science network

 

On 19 February 2015, the Hamburg Senate together with the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Secretariat launched an initiative to create a coordination network of Baltic Sea Region stakeholders in higher education, science and research policy. The event, which took place at the Hamburg Senate Guesthouse, was opened with welcoming word from Dorothee Stapelfeldt, Senator for Science and Research and Second Mayor of Hamburg, and Jan Lundin, Director General of the CBSS.

In a creative and constructive atmosphere, the representatives from national governments, senior officials from the ministries of education, science and research, representatives from the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the Nordic Council of Ministers discussed perspectives for science cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. The group was also addressed by Alessando Lombardo, Executive Officer at the Central European initiative (CEI).

The meeting helped the group to identify topics of common interest for transnational science cooperation and a suitable structure for an overall regional coordination framework, that can ensure better links between research and higher education resources within the Baltic Sea Region and beyond. Hence it was recommended to establish a Baltic Science Network.

In order to do this a number of activities were identified for the initial phase as crucial elements for fostering mobility and education, promoting research and innovation and pursuing joint political action and lobbying for the Baltic Sea Region.

More information will follow on the developments in the spring. 

4th Expert Meeting in the “PROTECT Children on the Move project

In the end of November, the fourth out of five expert meetings in the “PROTECT Children on the Move” project was organised around the topic of transnational child protection: the role of judges, social services and central authorities in Riga. Philippe Lortie, First Secretary at the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, with his keynote speech spoke to more than fifty experts from across Europe. Speakers included judges from Denmark, Germany, Norway and Spain along with representatives from central authorities in Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden and Denmark.

The reports and presentations from the first four expert meetings are available on www.childcentre.info. The final expert meeting will take place at the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Secretariat  in Stockholm on the 10th and 11th of March.

The outcomes of the PROTECT Children on the Move project will include guidelines and an online tool outlining relevant laws, policies and procedures.  The project is a cooperation between the CBSS, the Latvian State Border Guard, Stockholm Social Emergency Centre and the Lithuanian State Child Protection and Adoption Service.

In the end of February, the Council of Europe in collaboration with the CBSS organised a conference in Tallinn for representatives from ministries of justice and child welfare. Participants discussed child evidence within the framework of a child-friendly justice system. A comparative study on the recent initiatives and best practices within the region gave the relevant background and the meeting identified good practices to be introduced to the national legal systems. The conference was organised in co-operation with the Ministries of Justice and Social Affairs of Estonia.

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