October 2015

Dear Baltic Sea friend,

This issue of our newsletter marks the beginning of the Polish CBSS Presidency. With the three priorities of the Presidency – SustainabilityCreativity, and Safety – we are happy to engage ourselves in an exciting year of new events, projects, and ideas. The year has been kicked-off with the 9th Meeting of Ministers of Culture of the Baltic Sea Region in Gdansk, where the delegates shared their perspectives on the integration of culture, innovation, and sustainability. In addition, the CBSS has published its Annual Report for the Estonian Presidency 2014-2015.

We invite you to read more on the meetings, activities and the Annual Report below.

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Ministers discuss boosting culture and innovation in the Baltic Sea Region

Ministers of Culture of the Baltic Sea Region from 11 countries gathered in Gdansk on 16 September to discuss the role of culture in building a future vision for the Baltic Sea Region. The meeting was held on this level for the first time since 2008, becoming the highlight of the Culture Gathering conference dedicated to the CBSS Polish Presidency priority Creativity.

The assembly was opened and chaired by the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Prof. Małgorzata Omilanowska. The Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland Ms. Monika Smoleń gave a presentation on the cultural cooperation in the region and commended Balticlab as a notable network in the region.

"We simply want to build a stronger sense of family in the region, so as to facilitate cooperation and contacts, and ultimately to build trust", said the CBSS’s Director General Mr. Jan Lundin, introducing the current work of the Council under the long-term priority Regional Identity. Mr. Lundin added that cultural cooperation is an excellent way to develop a regional identity by establishing a strong common creative sector and continuing collaboration on a project level.

The Ministers’ meeting included presentations on the current activities of the Monitoring Group on Cultural Heritage, ARS BALTICA network, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Policy Area Culture, and the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture. The Ministers expressed their continued support to these projects and emphasised the positive developments in the cultural cooperation in the region since 2008. 

The Ministers also elaborated on the intersection of culture, economics, and sustainable development, especially in the field of creative industries. They stressed the importance of a bottom-up cooperation and interdisciplinary collaboration to boost culture and innovation in the region. Furthermore, the participants pointed out that there is a need to merge the collective efforts and ensure a flexible allocation of the disposable funds.

The Ministerial Conclusions can be accessed here.

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First Committee of Senior Officials convened under Polish Presidency

The motto of the Polish CBSS Presidency ‘Synergy in diversity’ was fully encapsulated on 15 September in Gdańsk, during the first Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) meeting under the current Polish chairmanship of the Council. The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Michał Czyż.

For the first time, the CSO invited the National Coordinators of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), alongside several EUSBSR Policy Area/Horizontal Action Coordinators (Policy Areas Culture, Education, Health, Innovation and Secure as well as Horizontal Action Capacity) and the Polish Chair of the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture to join the meeting. This innovative constellation encouraged a dialogue on synergies and ideas for the future.

The discussion among various Baltic Sea Region stakeholders showed that there is a great potential in combining regional efforts in the area of culture with a view to strengthening the Baltic identity. The CSO will continue to convene joint meetings with other stakeholders as the Polish Presidency moves forward. The next one is scheduled for 27-28 October (Warsaw) and will be held with the participation of the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development – Baltic 21 alongside the 5th Round Table of the Baltic Sea Region Climate Dialogue Platform and EUSBSR representatives.

The CSO endorsed the recommendation of the Expert Group on Nuclear and Radiological Safety (EGNRS) on common standards of radiological measurements within environmental monitoring. The CSO received an update on the final stages of the EuroFaculty Pskov Project, which will hold a final conference on 21-22 October in Pskov, and reflected on the applicability of the EuroFaculty concept in the future. The CSO also adopted the Estonian CBSS Presidency Annual Report 2014-2015, which will be available online mid-October.

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The CBSS Annual Report for the Estonian Presidency 2014-2015 now online

Read more about the activities of the CBSS under the Estonian Presidency in the full report here.

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Young Europeans reflect on history, memory and regional identity

What does the Baltic Sea regional identity mean for the young? 50 participants aged from 16 to 19, representing 19 European countries, reflected on the issues of memory, culture and regional identity together with high-level officials, experts and academics during the 2nd Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue that took place in Olsztyn, Poland, between 2 and 9 September.

The aim of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue is to gather young Europeans in border areas of the Baltic Sea Region to create a sense of shared belonging and identity based on a critical approach towards the local and regional past. This year, the programme named “Homeland reconsidered – new loyalties and redefined identities in Europe” was organized by the Körber Foundation and the CBSS in partnership with the Warmian-Masurian Voivoidship and Foundation Borussia. The number of participants has doubled compared to the previous year. 

The programme featured lectures and tours that shed light on a Warmian-Masurian identity on the background of its multinational heritage. What strategies did the former and new inhabitants of Olsztyn develop in response to the post-WWII resettlement? How did it influence their national, regional and personal identity? 

The participants were invited to take part in various workshops in film-making, photography, and storytelling. On colourful posters, they illustrated their understanding of a regional identity with quotes from Olsztyn residents, mottos, and personal reflections. Employing digital tools such as cameras, tablets and smartphones, they interviewed locals who embodied the Warmian-Mazurian regional identity, and engaged in a follow-up discussion on the collected material. On the last day of the intensive week, the participants presented their projects at a closing exhibition attended by representatives of Polish and European institutions, including the Chair of the CSO, Ambassador Michał Czyż.

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Balticlab wraps up 3.0 and launches 4.0

Balticlab, the innovation programme for creatives and entrepreneurs, has concluded its third year this August in Gothenburg, Sweden. As in previous years, Balticlab 3.0 consisted of two curated and linked events: the large-scale Balticlab Networking Weekend in Stockholm in December 2014 for 60 selected participants and the smaller project-building Balticlab Ideation of 30 participants. The latter took place in Riga, Warsaw, and Gothenburg in March-August 2015.

The participants of the 3.0 programme came from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland. Spanning across 9 countries and various disciplines, and with participants who also hold a connection to Brazil, India, Japan and the USA, the programme represents a region with a global reach and mindset.

The Balticlab 3.0 group were assisted in their development process by a group of outside experts and speakers from the fields of art, PR, innovation management, future-forecasting, business modelling, and entrepreneurship. What has resulted from this collaboration is a group of ideas, which reflect the collective values of Balticlab 3.0 participants. More emphasis has been put on communities, adapting to a fast-paced world, and exploration of life and nature. See here for more on the ideas coming out of Balticlab 3.0.

Meanwhile, Baltilcab has also launched an open call for its 4th year of programme -Balticlab 4.0. We are looking for future-forward and socially engaged talents from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus & Poland to join us. This year we are also expanding the call for participants from Ukraine!

See the call for applications here.

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CBSS projects continue to build capacity among childcare professionals

The Children’s Unit at the CBSS Secretariat launched two new training projects in September.

The first is a continuation of the EU co-funded Cross-national child protection in practice - PROTECT Children on the Move project. In cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers, this new project uses a set of guidelines developed by the CBSS to conduct trainings in promoting the human rights and the best interests of the child in transnational protection cases.

The second project is a continuation of the AudTrain project, completed in 2012, which developed a system-based audit for alternative childcare facilities. With co-funding from the European Union, the revival of AudTrain will update and expand the training modules, prepare additional trainers, and develop monitoring guidelines. Find out more information about the AudTrain projects here.

Trainings for both projects will take place throughout the Baltic Sea Region in 2016-2017.

Besides, a package of reports on Family Support and Alternative Care was released in August by the CBSS Estonian Presidency 2014-2015, the CBSS Secretariat, and the Expert Group for Cooperation on Children at Risk. The reports can be accessed here.

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CBSS increases awareness of diplomatic and consular personnel on human trafficking 

On 21 September, numerous diplomats from foreign embassies headquartered in Stockholm, including a few ambassadors, took part in the training seminar on human trafficking issues.

The event was organised by the CBSS and Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB) in cooperation with the Swedish Government Offices. 

Numerous experts and academics were invited to speak to participants. The event was opened by Ms. Pernilla Baralt, State Secretary to the Swedish Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, and the new Deputy General Director of the CBSS Secretatiat Mr. Bernd Hemingway. Sweden’s National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings informed the participants of new trends and forms of trafficking in Sweden and recruitment methods of traffickers. The programme also featured representatives of the Swedish Migration Agency, police, intelligence, and local Stockholm authorities, who shared their experience of struggling against human trafficking. CBSS representatives and Ms. Märta Johannsson, Associate Professor at Örebro University, provided theoretical insights into counter-trafficking. 

Trafficking in human beings in its different forms continues to grow and affect every country in the world. Although significant efforts have been maid nationally and internationally to combat human trafficking, victim identification made victim assistance are still deficient and inadequate. Offering training to diplomats and consular officers is essential, as they are most often the first to be contacted by the victims of human trafficking. The diplomatic personnel can play a crucial role in an early identification of such crimes, providing victims with an adequate support and sharing important information with police and prosecution authorities.

Organising the seminar, the CBSS TF-THB thus aimed at increasing awareness of trafficking-related issues and enabling a better assistance to trafficking victims in the Baltic Sea Region and across the globe.