On 19 February 2016 the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Stockholm hosted a seminar dedicated to summarizing the last edition of the Baltic Leadership Programme (BLP) in Civil Security as well as to defining its future development. The seminar was organised together with National Headquarters of the State Fire Service of the Republic of Poland (KGSP) and the CBSS Secretariat in cooperation with the Swedish Institute (SI), Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), Swedish Defense University (SEDU) and the Main School of Fire Service (SGSP) in Warsaw.
The discussion was moderated by the Polish Ambassador H.E. Wiesław Tarka who underlined that Europe needs more cooperation in civil security, not less. For instance, the challenges faced in the Baltic Sea Region as a result of climate change (floods and forest fires) and new migration patterns are of transboundary character. The traditionally high ambitions of the Baltic Sea Region with regards to security and safety of its inhabitants have to be upheld. In all these respects, regional cooperation can help.
The purpose of the latest two editions of the BLP has been to equip the next generation of policy decision makers with the tools and perspectives needed to manage cross-border collaboration between diverse organisations in an intercultural context. The BLP’s framework centers on strategic leadership, crisis management, and regional cooperation.
“BLP Secure has strengthened international cooperation by building a strong network that facilitates the exchange of experiences between all the countries involved, as well as strengthens the foundation for European and international cooperation. This is also a cross-sectoral cooperation as the impact of the crisis and its management often span political, organisational, legal and national boundaries”, said Ms Annika Rembe, Director General of the Swedish Institute.
BLP has a clear macro-regional focus and consists of advanced problem solving activities, open discussions and group work, facilitated by well-respected experts and prominent policy and decision makers, working within the field of societal security.
Ms Helena Lindberg, Director General of MSB stated that the programme was seen as a tool not just to deal with current challenges but also future ones:
“I see the added value of macro-regional cooperation when we are able to join efforts for a common goal – safety and security in critical flows at sea, on land and in space. We should seek to exploit the tight web of mutually reinforcing, cross-border relationships that provide a rather unique foundation for societal resilience in this region.”
Gen. Gustaw Mikołajczyk, Deputy Chief Commandant of KGSP, stressed the demand for resourceful individuals to bring about change:
“I believe that by addressing the concept of strategic leadership and the use of social media in crisis management, by discussing intercultural communication and utilisation of lessons learned from projects, operations and exercises in your national policies, a thinking and acting will be improved, as participants of the Baltic Leadership Programme will be forerunners of changes in their institutions.”
Mr. Jan Lundin, Director General of the CBSS Secretariat, underpinned the value of joint training programmes like BLP in order to build a common identity in the Baltic Sea Region.
“Knowledge is a good path to leadership which in turn increases the overall capacity to act and makes us more resilient to joint threats. It’s important to improve understanding between all CBSS member states about their governance structure, which would lay a better foundation to deliver sustainable result of cross-border cooperation.”
All participants stressed the positive contribution of the three BLP editions addressed to various target groups, to the strengthening of cooperation capacity of civil protection agencies in the BSR. The BLP has been successful and it’s no longer a question if the programme should be continued but now the focus has shifted to how that can be accomplished. There are several options on how the BLP-concept can continue to play a vital part in connecting organisations in civil protection and law enforcement. SI will most likely pass on the responsibility of further developing the BLP to the CBSS Member States and EUSBSR Priority Area Secure.
KGSP suggested that an advisory board could be created in a Troika format (the past, present and next in line CBSS Presidencies). The composition could consist of DG´s from national civil protection and/or law enforcement agencies. This group would have a full mandate to decide the content of the programme. This setup would allow the BLP to be held biannually or every third year. The cost for implementing it would be shared by all three member states. The discussion ended with an agreement that ways of institutionalising the BLP-concept will be decided at the next Annual Meeting of Directors General for Civil Protection on 8-9 June in Gdańsk based on recommendations provided by the PA Secure Steering Group.
The Baltic Leadership Programme, a flagship of Policy Area Secure in EUSBSR, has been financed by the Swedish Institute, organised and developed in partnership with SI, SEDU, MSB and CBSS Secretariat, the latter two in their capacity as Policy Area Coordinators for PA Secure.