April 2017

Dear Baltic Sea friend,

Spring is fast approaching and as the sunlight returns to our region, a number of events and projects are underway. Last month the CBSS marked its 25th anniversary with a symposium in Reykjavik, as well as the launch of a silver coating for our logo for the anniversary year.

We invite you to read all about our recent and upcoming events below.

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CBSS 25th Anniversary Symposium "A Future Outlook on Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region"

To mark 25 years since the foundation of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs organised an anniversary symposium at the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. H.E. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, gave the opening remarks before an audience of 75 guests. 

6th of March honours the date of establishment, and the 25th anniversary of the meeting held in Copenhagen at the invitation of the Danish and German Foreign Ministers, to bring together their peers and form the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). In his speech, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson reminded those present of the importance of exchanging views, especially in times of instability and uncertainty, and discussed common values within the Baltic Sea Region.

Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson, Ambassador and Chairman of the Committee of Senior Officials of the CBSS introduced Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, as the keynote speaker, who strongly reiterated the importance of open political dialogue in his speech. Mr Franz Thönnes, Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, represented Germany in honour of the late Hans Dietrich Genscher. The German position reflects the necessity of convening meetings on the political level.

The panel discussions focused on the future development of the Baltic Sea Region and the strengths of the current cooperation. Active dialogue, openness and mutual understanding were mentioned as some of the key words for successful future cooperation. The participants in the panel represented various stakeholders within the Baltic Sea Region: Ambassador Maira Mora, Director General of the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat, Mr Jörgen Pettersson, Vice President of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, Mr Sergey Petrovich, Chair of the Russian Presidency of the Barents Euro Arctic Council, Ms Jóna Sólveig Elínardóttir, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Icelandic Parliament and Mr Andri Yrkill Valsson, Journalist & BA Political Science. Mirjam Külm, Media & Communications of the CBSS Secretariat moderated the panel discussions. 

 For more images from the event see the CBSS Flickr.

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CBSS Children at Risk Unit launched "Non-violent Childhoods" project 

On 7 February, representatives from ministries, Ombudsmen’s offices for children, and experts from the Baltic Sea Region met at the CBSS Secretariat in Stockholm to discuss the implementation of the full ban against corporal punishment.

The Baltic Sea Region may soon become a no-corporal-punishment area within Europe, with 10 out of 11 countries already having legally banned corporal punishment and having thus accumulated important experiences in bringing the ban from law into practice.

The project not only promotes the elimination of corporal punishment, and other cruel or degrading punishments of children, but also engages in changing the mindset and public opinion at large.

The CBSS Children at Risk Unit and the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children are jointly managing the two-year project in partnership with Ministries of Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Latvia and the Ombudsman for Children's Rights in Poland.

Among the outcomes of this co-financed EU-project will be guidance material to be used globally to showcase what works in awareness-raising campaigns, parenting programmes, communication in the home and guidance for service providers and professionals. In connection to this, national consultations in the partner countries will take place starting with Sweden - as a pioneer country in this field - in May 2017.

Find more information here.

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TF-THB begins the campaign

“Human Trafficking – A Crime that is all of our Responsibility”

The CBSS Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB) has launched the awareness-raising campaign "Human Trafficking - A Crime that is all of our Responsibility." 

In cooperation with the Swedish artist Lovisa Burfitt and a production team in Estonia, a t-shirt has been designed with an ethical supply chain.

Human trafficking affects us all. More than 10000 people are trafficked every year for sexual, labour exploitation and other purposes in Europe alone! It’s happening within our countries, cities and communities, too.

This is why the TF-THB welcomes politicians like Ms Evika Siliņa (Parliamentary Secretary of Ministry of Interior of Latvia; pictured above) to be a part of the campaign, encouraging all stakeholders, social workers, anti-trafficking coordinators and the general public to take a stand against trafficking and exploitation of human beings by wearing this t-shirt and sending the strong message #traffickingsucks.

You can follow the campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - or see all the contributions here.

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The Baltic 2030 Action Plan is under way 

In June 2016, the high representatives of the Council of the Baltic Sea States government institutions called upon the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development to elaborate an Action Plan, specifically tailored for the Baltic Sea Region to guide stakeholders through the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The drafting of the Baltic 2030 Action Plan is conducted in a holistic and inclusive way, drawing on the extensive knowledge of the Expert Group members and international experts, as well as on the collective input from key stakeholders from the BSR countries. One of the sources of such input is the Towards Baltic 2030From Talk to Work project, funded by the Swedish Institute and run by the CBSS Secretariat’s Baltic 2030 Unit. Within the project, workshops are conducted in Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Ukraine. Government representatives, NGOs, international organisations and researchers from Riga, Tallinn, Warsaw and St. Petersburg are here collectively answering the questions: What are our common challenges for implementing the 2030 Agenda in the Baltic Sea Region? What institutional capacities should be built to address the SDGs in each country? The summary of the workshops will be presented at the final event on the 27th of April in Stockholm and will help to refine the focus areas of the Baltic 2030 Action Plan.

To address one of the common themes, which has emerged from the discussions within the project - education and awareness-raising - From Talk to Work will facilitate the establishment of a collaborative online open learning platform for the region. The platform will pool and share information, best practices and knowledge on sustainable development actors, tools, policies, initiatives, funding opportunities, projects and events.

The preliminary draft of the Action Plan will be presented to the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development in May 2017 and is expected to be endorsed by the CBSS Foreign Ministers in June 2017. 

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Security and Migration Conference coming up in May

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, in close cooperation with the Icelandic Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the CBSS Secretariat, are organising a conference on Soft Security and Migration in the Baltic Sea Region, taking place in Helsinki on 30-31 May 2017.

The conference will focus on discussing the impact and lessons learned from managing the migratory flows in 2015-2016 and bring together a wide range of actors from the CBSS Member States. 

Three working groups have been formed to strengthen dialogue and exchange of experiences between national and local authorities and other actors, including NGOs, dealing with e.g. border controls, security issues, reception of migrants, identification of victims of trafficking, and early integration. Furthermore, the conference aims to develop forward-looking policy recommendations.

Confirmed speakers include amongst others Päivi Nerg, State Secretary from the Ministry of Interior of Finland, Ambassador Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Eugenio Ambrosi, Regional Director from IOM’s Regional Office for the EU, Norway and Switzerland, and Ambassador Maira Mora, Director General of the CBSS Secretariat.

The official invitation to the conference, as well as a draft agenda and further information about travel and accommodation will be shared in due time.

The conference registration will open in mid-April.

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Baltic TRAM discussions ahead of the operational phase of the Industrial Research Centres

The Third Baltic TRAM Partner Meeting took place at the European Spallation Source (ESS) construction site in Lund (Sweden)  on 15 – 16 March 2017 against the backdrop of the recently launched Finnish call for measurements. This call has been issued ahead of the general Baltic Sea Region-wide call to be published in April 2017. It means that the Baltic TRAM network is getting ready to process industrial user enquiries.

The Lund meeting also introduced the recently recruited Lithuanian project partner, Kaunas Science and Technology Park, to the practicalities of the project.

In order to enhance a broader awareness about Baltic TRAM´s contribution to the transnational advancement of smart specialisation, the CBSS Secretariat submitted Baltic TRAM´s joint position to the public consultation on Smart Specialisation: a fresh approach to the European growth and jobs through regional innovation strategies organised by the European Commission.

Read more about the Baltic TRAM meeting here.

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Baltic Sea Science Day paves the way for enhanced science and research cooperation

On 8 February 2017, the CBSS Secretariat organised jointly with the board of the Rectors of St. Petersburg universities, an international conference on scientific cooperation. This “Baltic Sea Science Day” was linked to the historic date of the establishment of one of the first academies of science in the Baltic Sea Region, namely in St Petersburg in 1724. The conference which was dedicated to advancing the discussion on the CBSS Science, Research and Innovation Agenda, gathered approximately 130 participants representing the leading universities and research centres based in the Baltic Sea Region, as well as both chairmanships of the CBSS and Barents Euro-Arctic Council. See more on the conference here.

The Baltic Sea Science Day reflections on the Baltic Science Network also laid grounds for further discussions on transnational academic and research ties during the project´s workshop “Researchers‘ mobility in Baltic Sea Region: where do we stand and how to move forward?” which took place on 10 February 2017 in Vilnius. The workshop was opened by Ms. Jurgita Petrauskienė, Minister of Education and Science of Lithuania about which you can read more here.

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Extended Meeting of the CBSS Expert Group on Maritime Policy 

On 14 March 2017, the CBSS Expert Group on Maritime Policy (EGMP) gathered for an extended meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland. The meeting titled “Maritime Policy: Sharing knowledge” brought together about 20 participants from the different spheres of maritime economy.

The open discussion, exchange of opinions and best practices were facilitated within a range of topics defined by the EGMP’s members as being of common interest, such as maritime education and training, maritime/coastal tourism, energy efficiency, green shipping and renewable fuels for marine applications, innovation and autonomous ship technology.

The CBSS EGMP is an important partner in the Baltic Sea Maritime Dialogue and intends to support the improvement of the Baltic Sea Region’s international competitiveness in regards to development of sustainable maritime economy and to establish the Baltic Sea Region as a model region for maritime best practice. Further, the EGMP strives for a balanced co-existence of a successful maritime economy, using the attractiveness of the Baltic Sea Region as a safe and secure destination, particularly in times of global unrest.

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Panel discussion and workshop on the future of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue project

In connection to last year’s Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue - which was realised in cooperation with the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk, Poland and financially supported by the German Federal Foreign Office -  an evaluation seminar and panel discussion on the project as a whole was held at the 'Felleshus' of the Nordic Embassies in Berlin, on 28 March 2017.

At the seminar, members of the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic, coordinators of the transnational Bridge It! –programme, organisers of the 2016 edition of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue-Solidarity Academy and representatives of the CBSS Secretariat discussed the benefits and challenges of the different youth projects: what are the main values that youth projects can bring? How can youth cooperation projects shape the future of our region and the future of young people in the region? 

During the panel discussion, moderated by Dr Mechthild Baumann of the European Academy Berlin, the results of the seminar were presented and the past and future of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue concept was elaborated in general. Ms Katja Fausser representing the German Körber Foundation – former cooperation partner of the CBSS and Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue – underlined the importance of young people understanding (their) history when growing into politically-engaged citizens. Furthermore, the journalists Ms Mira M. Fricke and Mr Koen Verhelst shared some experiences of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue-Solidarity Academy of 2016 and highlighted the intercultural competences and networks they have gained.

Ambassador Maira Mora, Director General of the CBSS Secretariat, as well as Ms A. Edda Jökulsdóttir, Deputy to the Icelandic Ambassador in Berlin emphasised that an investment in young people is always an investment in the future of every country or region. Along with the speakers, Ambassador Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson, Chair of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials; Mr Jürgen Klimke, Member of the German Bundestag; Mr Carsten Rüpke, Head of the Northern Europe Division at German FFO; and Ms Cornelia Pieper, German Consul General in Gdansk, they thanked all cooperation partners and facilitators and stressed their important role when it comes to developing a common regional identity in the Baltic Sea Region – a long-term priority of the CBSS.

The panel discussion was concluded with music by an ensemble of the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic.

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Civil protection and climate experts get together for a cross-sectorial, trans-national initiative to address climate change risks

The CBSS Secretariat civil security team and the Baltic 2030 Unit, supported by UNISDR, initiated a project to address emerging climate risks in the Baltic Sea Region: CASCADE - Community Safety Action for Supporting Climate Adaptation and Development will seek to improve urban resilience in cities and towns, as well as the overall macro-regional resilience. The project is expected to adjust existing risk assessment methodology to the climate change context and tailor it for the local level. This methodology will be used in a training course for city officials, responsible for civil protection. If successful, the training can be replicated by all BSR countries.

CASCADE will also strive to initiate a region-wide policy dialogue on the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as an effective platform for cross-sectorial cooperation between different levels of governance and for greater policy coherence on climate risks assessment.

The working group behind the project has been established with the funding provided by the Swedish Institute and consists of climate change professionals and civil protection practitioners from several countries in the Baltic Sea Region. The Union of the Baltic Cities will root the project in the local level, while the Main School of Fire Service in Warsaw and the Stockholm Environment Institute (Tallinn Centre) will add the research dimension to the consortium. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), Hamburg Fire and Rescue Service, and Frederiksborg Fire and Rescue Service will support the project with strategic and practical knowledge on civil protection.

The CBSS Secretariat, representing the pan-Baltic perspective, will contribute with insights both in security and climate issues in the region. At the moment, the project application is about to be finalised in order to seek funding from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) – EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

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Happy Easter!