December 2016

Dear Baltic Sea friend,

The end of the year is fast approaching and we would like to share with you a few of our stories before the upcoming Christmas holidays.

Two of our units, the Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings and Baltic 2030, marked notable anniversaries this autumn, while the Children at Risk Unit had the honour to work with HM Queen Silvia of Sweden. The CBSS Secretariat also hosted a number of significant meetings with its cooperation partners, all of which we invite you to read more on below.


The Council of the Baltic Sea States and HM Queen Silvia encourage a growing network of the Barnahus Model

On 28-29 November 2016, professionals from around Europe met in Linköping, Sweden, to gather inspiration to launch an innovative way to support child victims of violence in their own countries. The meeting was organised by the Council of the Baltic Sea States and its partners, as a part of the PROMISE Project, co-funded by the European Union through the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020).

The Barnahus model (Children’s House) puts the child’s story at the centre. It was founded in Iceland in 1998 and the second ever Barnahus was launched in Linköping, Sweden in 2005.

In the Nordics, this multi-disciplinary, interagency service model forms an integral part of the welfare and judicial system. It provides support to child victims and witnesses to violence, giving them access to justice, avoiding re-victimisation as well as ensuring recovery.

At the meeting, HM Queen Silvia returned to Linköping, 11 years after inaugurating the first Barnahus in Sweden, to give her support to the European Barnahus movement. Her advocacy played a key role in the establishment of Barnahus in Sweden. The World Childhood Foundation, which The Queen founded, helped to establish Barnahus Linköping and continues to support the establishment of Barnahus around the world.

The meeting on 28-29 November 2016 in Linköping to promote the establishment of Barnahus or similar centres throughout the Baltic Sea Region and beyond. Children’s rights are a priority for the Council of the Baltic Sea States during its Icelandic Presidency 2016-2017, and have been a topic for regional cooperation within the CBSS since 2002.

See coverage of the meeting on the Swedish news broadcaster SVT here.


Conference on Promoting Good Practices in Protecting Unaccompanied Children 

On 8-9 December 2016 the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the Central European Initiative (CEI) hosted 60 representatives from UN-agencies, international & local organisations, and 27 Northern, Central and South-East European countries. Together they shared good practices in protecting unaccompanied children with the aim of finding solutions for unaccompanied children, their families, and the societies and states they interact with.

At the meeting, the CBSS Guidelines Promoting the Human Rights and the Best Interests of the Child in Transnational Child Protection Cases were officially launched.

Ambassador Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson, Chair of The Icelandic Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, Ambassador Miloš Prica, Coordinator of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency of the Central European Initiative, and Mr. Ugo Poli, Project Manager at Central European Initiative Executive Secretariat, met on the side-lines of the conference. They took note of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two regional organisations and discussed future cooperation on the themes of sustainable development, science cooperation, trafficking in human beings, and children at risk.

The conclusions from the conference identified standards in quality that will enhance the protection of unaccompanied children transiting and arriving in the CBSS and CEI Member States and safeguard their human rights as afforded under international, European and national law.


Human Trafficking 2016 – Baltic Sea Round-up Report

Three years have passed since the first Round-up 2013 Report was presented (accessible here). The CBSS Member States have continued their work in counteracting human trafficking and protecting individuals affected. The Round-up Report provides an easily accessible macro-regional snapshot, which outlines the directions of counter-trafficking work in the Baltic Sea Region. The Report covers the period of time from 2013 until 2016 and contains chapters on each Member State, includes a separate piece on the current trends in human trafficking, as well as a collection of views expressed by different national and international trafficking experts on the future challenges and topical issues. You can access and download the report here.

The report was launched in connection with the 10th anniversary of the CBSS Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB), which was marked on 24 October 2016 in Reykjavik. To honour and highlight this milestone of the Task Force’s work, the performance “Try Human – An Attempt to be Human” by the Swedish choreographer Disa Krosness was shown, illustrating a world of explained and intellectualised experiences and unravelling a language that speaks directly to the viewer without having to be explained. See more on the anniversary celebrations here.



20 Years of Sustainable Development Cooperation in the BSR and High-Level Political Session "Walk the Talk" at the EUSBSR Annual Forum

On 7 November 2016, the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development – Baltic 2030 marked 20 years of strong cooperation and partnerships within the fields of sustainability and climate change. Initiated as Baltic 21 - and now Baltic 2030 in conformity with the Global Agenda 2030  - the 20th anniversary marks a milestone for the Expert Group, which today looks into a challenging future and demands to intensify cooperation on current and emerging challenges within the new global development framework.  

At the EUSBSR Annual Forum on 9 November 2016 in Stockholm, Baltic 2030 organised one of the main sessions at the Strategy Forum. The High-Level Political Session Walk the Talk: Implementing Sustainable Development Goals in the Baltic Sea Region gathered politicians and experts of the region, amongst others Ms. Daiva Matonien (Vice-Minister of the Environment, Lithuania) and Prof. Dr. Günther Bachmann (General Secretary of the German Council for Sustainable Development, Germany) to discuss the relevance of the 2030 Agenda for the BSR. The panel was moderated by Mr. Alan AtKisson (AtKisson Group) and Ms. Alise Trifane (Baltic University Programme) and actively involved the audience by using the mobile app “MessOut”. This tool enabled a lively and fruitful discussion amongst the panellists and the audience which could send questions directly to the speakers and participated in surveys.  

According to these survey’s results, the participants of the session identified three most important topics for successful SDG implantation in BSR: access to implementation tools, knowledge and best practices, improved cooperation and coordination on all levels and common vision for BSR.


Start of the Baltic Leadership Programme on Labour Mobility

On 30 November, the first module of the Baltic Leadership Programme (BLP) Labour Mobility started in Gdańsk, Poland. The programme is a joint effort by the Swedish Institute, the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), the Norden Association, as well as the Policy Area Education and Horizontal Action ’Capacity’ within the European Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). BLP-Labour Mobility gives an important input to the further development of the Baltic Sea Labour Forum. BLP-Labour Mobility will be implemented in 2016/17 by starting its first module in Gdańsk, Poland on 30 November 2016, and be finalised with a third module in June 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

The first programme module in Gdańsk gathered about 30 participants representing trade unions, employer organisations, state agencies and cross-border services. Some of the highlights from the first day were group discussions focusing on building a contextual map of the topic, and an inspiring presentation by Franz Thönnes (MP, former Parliamentary State Secretary, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the German Bundestag) on “Visions for the Baltic Sea”, accompanied by remarks from Anders Bergström (Strategist, Norden Association).


Solidarity Academy - Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue 2016

From 13 - 20 November 2016, young aspiring journalists from Belarus, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Ukraine, gathered in Gdańsk, Poland and Kaliningrad, Russia for the Solidarity Academy – Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue. The joint week-long project of the European Solidarity Centre (Gdańsk) and the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat (Stockholm) is an initiative of the German Foreign Office, bringing forward youth cooperation as an means to conflict resolution, and focuses on dialogue not only as the essence of journalism, but as an important aspect of learning and diplomacy.

Ambassador Maira Mora, Director General of the CBSS Secretariat, and Ambassador Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson, Icelandic Presidency Chair of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials attended the opening of the Solidarity Academy – Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue in Gdańsk.

Amongst the four projects, which were developed throughout the week and presented at the closing of the programme, the jury eventually decided to award the ‘Politics Group’ with 500 EUR in order to realise their project until the end of this year: the group plans on producing and distributing paper coffee cups with facts about the Baltic Sea Region, promoting culture, traditions, history and commonalities of the different countries.

Read more about it here.


Four Councils Meeting and CBSS CSO Annual Consultations with the Observers

On 27-28 November 2016, the CBSS Secretariat in Stockholm hosted the Four Councils Meeting and the 3rd CBSS Committee of Senior Officials Meeting under the Icelandic Presidency. The CSO Meeting began with the CBSS Annual Consultations with the Observer States which was chaired by Ambassador Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson.

Ambassador Stefansson briefed the Observer States on the Icelandic CBSS Presidency priorities and upcoming activities. Moreover, the Observer States' expectations towards the CBSS were discussed, identifying areas in which the CBSS Observer States see possibilities for enhanced cooperation or exchange. The meeting was concluded with a reception at the Residency of the Icelandic Ambassador to Sweden, Estrid Brekkan.

The following countries are CBSS Observers: Belarus, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The day before, on 27 November 2016, the CBSS Secretariat welcomed representatives of the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers. The meeting focused on cooperation in the field of Higher Education, Science and Research; Sustainable Development and Culture. In regards to the first CBSS Science Ministerial held on 16 June 2016 in Kraków, Poland, and the White House Arctic Science Ministerial held on 28 September 2016 in Washington, the United States, best practices adopted among the four regional councils of the North were elaborated. The dialogue mapped gaps in research and science cooperation, which the councils will try to address in an independent, as well as in a joint manner.



Balticlab gathers 4 years of alumni in Stockholm

On 16-18 December 2016, 140 members of the Balticlab Network will meet in Stockholm for a weekend of discussions, workshops and lectures around the theme of "future" and "community". This will be the first time that members of all four years of Balticlab will gather in one room, bringing together creatives and entrepreneurs from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and Germany. 

This alumni weekend links to the overall future direction of Balticlab. From the very beginning, the word to describe the ethos behind Balticlab has been "future". The programme has meant potential, exploring possibilities and asking “What if?”.

For this reason, Balticlab will not be continuing in its current format. 4 years, 300 alumni, 11 countries. Amazing locations, new ideas and perspectives. All of this has led us to ask a question we so often ask our participants: how to make sure that what you are doing is a new way of looking at things? How to make sure we continue innovating?

Balticlab will continue to explore the norms and principles we hold in our region. We want to make sure everything we do empowers talent and encourages innovation in the best way. For this, we will spend the next months gathering impressions, getting together with our alumni and re-inventing our programme formula. We will be speaking to our past collaborators and future partners on what makes the creative talent in our region move forward, and how do we combine forces for a more future-oriented and connected region.


The CBSS Secretariat wishes everybody a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year 2017!