Dear Baltic Sea friend,

We open the autumn season with a number of new initiatives and three renewed priorities: Regional Identity, Sustainable & Prosperous Region and Safe & Secure Region. We invite you to read about them below.

October 2014

First Meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials under the Estonian Presidency


During their first meeting of the CBSS Estonian presidency, the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO), chaired by Ambassador Raul Mälk, revisited the three new long term priorities of the CBSS – Regional Identity, Sustainable & Prosperous Region and Safe & Secure Region. The Estonian Presidency placed its emphasis on the practical implementation of the new priorities, guided by the principles of practicality, efficiency and cooperation.

In this first meeting, the implementation of the long term priority Sustainable & Prosperous Region was in focus. The CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development - represented by the Chair Ülle Vaht, Estonian Ministry of Environment, and supported by Krista Kampus, Head of the Baltic 21 Unit of the CBSS Secretariat, introduced its strategic framework for developing a prosperous and sustainable region in the future. Selected CBSS Intergovernmental Networks, such as VASAB, represented by Martina Proosa, Chair of the VASAB Committee on Spatial Planning and Development of the Baltic Sea Region and Talis Linkaits, Head of VASAB Secretariat, and BASREC, introduced by Thor-Sten Vertmann, Counsellor of the Energy Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia holding the BASREC Presidency, shared their views on how their networks could add value in developing a prosperous and sustainable region in the future.

Looking back to December 2013, the Director General of the CBSS Secretariat, Jan Lundin, concluded that the Council’s aims to become more project orientated and effective have been fulfilled. 

Looking ahead, he suggested for the Council to position itself in a role that facilitates coordination and communication thus creating balance between relevant regional strategies - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and Russian North West Strategy for Socio-Economic Development of the North West Russian regions - to engage by taking a leading role and acting as a respected partner, enabling the experience and connections in the region and thereby improving the financial engineering skills which support project development, as well as developing communication tools to support this role.

The next CSO meeting will target the implementation of the long-term priority Regional Identity in its discussions and is to be held back-to-back with the Annual Consultations with CBSS Observer States on 2–3 December 2014 in Stockholm.

25 young Europeans gather for the first Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue in Narva, Estonia


In collaboration with Koerber Foundation and Narva College, the Council of the Baltic Sea States organised the first Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue in September 2014. From their respective networks, they invited 25 young Europeans, aged 16-19, from 12 different countries to a weeklong programme of workshops, lectures, debates and practical experiences in Tallinn and Narva (Estonia), as well as Ivangorod (Russian Federation).

Coming from a generation that grew up in a Europe of free movement, the participants developed their own perspective of history and different dimensions of their personal, cultural and regional identity.

Visual impressions of their quest are now on display in the virtual exhibition #balticeye, where until 31 October 2014 all visitors are invited to vote for their favourite photographs.

The Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue is important for building a discussion on Baltic Sea regional identity among this generation. Regional identity was recently approved as a long term priority by the CBSS. The Körber Foundation’s history network for young Europeans EUSTORY has for years created such space for encounters and facilitated dialogue on shared history and the future of Europe in regular international gatherings for young people. This collaboration strengthens the work of both organisations.

Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and Edita Žiobienė, Ombudsperson for Child Rights, Lithuania

“PROTECT children on the move” 3rd Expert Meeting in Vilnius


The third out of five expert meetings in the “PROTECT children on the move” project in early September focused on Returns and Transfers in Practice: Case examples of children exposed to exploitation and trafficking and children at risk. The event, attended by over 50 experts in the field, included a keynote speech by Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

PROTECT children on the move project is a cooperation between the CBSS Children at Risk Unit, the Latvian State Border Guard, Stockholm Social Emergency Center and the Lithuanian State Child Protection and Adoption Service, with support from the European Return Fund. The expert meetings bring together local and national authorities as well as NGOs, UN Agencies, service providers and practitioners from the Baltic Sea Region and Member States of the European Union and the Council of Europe, to discuss ways of protecting children exposed to exploitation and trafficking in cross border situations. The final aim of the project is to develop a set of guidelines for authorities, academics and practitioners to improve their cooperation and to ensure the safety and empowerment of children at risk. In addition, an online tool and a report will be developed.

The next expert meeting in the PROTECT children on the move project will take place in Riga, Latvia, on the 25th and 26th November emphasising the role of judges, social services and central authorities, followed by the final and 5th in Stockholm on the 10th and 11th of March 2015.

Best Agers Lighthouses Project

Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF) together with Best Agers Lighthouses discuss demographic changes and employment of the future


The Joint Tripartite Conference “Employment for the Future: How should the Baltic Sea Region respond to ageing workforces?”, held back to back with the BSLF Enlarged Steering Committee, took place on 16-17 September 2014 in Riga, Latvia. 

Facing many challenges such as demographic changes, cooperation is one of the significant strengths of the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). The conference included workshops and presentations of results of the Best Agers Lighthouses project. After opening words by Liga Mengelsone, General Director of the Employers´Confederation of Latvia (LDDK) who also chaired the BSLF Steering Committee, Nathalie Cliquot from the Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) programme of the the OECD and Ellen Nygren of the European Trade Union Confederation discussed policy responses on the first panel. Among the keynote speakers was Dr. Jörg Peschner of the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, who spoke about ageing workforces as a macroeconomic challenge for the European Union. Furthermore Richard K. Caputo, Professor of Social Policy and Research from the Yeshiva University in New York, USA, provided a perspective on responses to demographic change in the United States and in selected other countries.

The inputs of the conference drew a broad picture of the situation in the BSR, including challenges, political strategies and practical approaches to demographic changes. One of the important key messages of the conference was that comprehensive approaches are needed in the BSR. Mobility of labour and youth employment are the focuses within the work plan of the BSLF, but cannot be seen as isolated from other labour market topics. Tripartite strategies should always consider this complex and dynamic situation. The BSLF have thus positively evaluated the recommendations of the Best Agers Lighthouses project and BSLF member organisations shall distribute them among their networks. 

Andres Anvelt, Minister of the Justice of the Republic of Estonia & Anu Leps, Ministry of Justice

TF-THB Conference Responsible Business: Prevention of Human Trafficking and Labour Exploitation in the Baltic Sea Region in Tallinn


On 24 September, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia, University of Tartu, NGO Living for Tomorrow and the CBSS Task Force against Trafficking in Human beings (TF-THB) organised a joint conference in Tallinn, which focused on the promotion of principles of corporate social responsibility to enable enterprises to be free of exploitative practise, fraud and violence.

The conference aimed at raising participants’ awareness on the current situation in the labour market, risks and consequences of labour exploitation. The event initiated an open dialogue with the private sector, state institutions and non-governmental organisations. Particular attention was paid to the prevention of abusive recruitment, exploitative employment and labour trafficking in the Baltic Sea region.

The first panel looked at the international experience of promoting corporate social responsibility and preventing labour exploitation and human trafficking. The results of the EUSBSR flagship project ADSTRINGO, with emphasis on the culmination of the project - the Guidelines to Prevent Abusive Recruitment, Exploitative Employment and Trafficking of Migrant Workers in the Baltic Sea Region, were presented.

During the afternoon sessions, the situation in the local labour market and Responsible Business Initiatives and efforts to prevent labour exploitation in Estonia was addressed. Representatives of the Danish, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian private and public sectors gave first-hand insights on national projects and good practices to fight Trafficking in Human Beings and labour exploitation at the national level.  

Resource Efficiency in focus at the first Baltic Leadership Programme in Low Carbon Economy


In early October the Swedish Institute and the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development-Baltic 21 – the latter acting in its capacity as Co-Leader of the Horizontal Action ‘Sustainable’ of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region – organised a training course in European project making in the field of Low Carbon Economy with a focus on resource efficiency.

The first session was attended by 22 participants, representing public authorities, NGOs, private and research organisations from Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden, working actively on resource efficiency in fields related to i.e. sustainable bioenergy, land use and waste management.

The Baltic Leadership Programme consists of two one-week training sessions, which include general leadership training, capacity building in project management and knowledge of European project making and project funding.

The programme is aimed at future leaders in transnational cooperation and project development processes, which are related to low carbon economy.

Module number 2 will take part in Brussels, Belgium, on 24 - 28 November 2014.

Balticlab 3.0 calling creative minds in the region


For the third year running the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Swedish Institute bring young creative minds from the Baltic Sea region together into one space to explore new perspectives and sources of inspiration in the region. By providing opportunities for interdisciplinary talented individuals to network and come up with joint collaborations in the region, the two organisations aim to support their personal development, as well as see an increased engagement in prototyping the future of our region.

Balticlab 3.0 will kick off with a Networking Weekend in Stockholm on 12-14 December 2014 and similar to previous years will continue with a project-development programme titled Balticlab Ideation with a smaller selected group from the Balticlab Networking Weekend. Our goal is to make the Balticlab Network grow and develop year by year. Hence we will be opening the call up to more countries this year: Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Poland, with the call targeted to Baltic Sea talent who has not previously partaken in Balticlab. 

The call for applications is now open and closes on 2 November.

A village party signals the end of the beginning in the SEBA Vistynets/Vistyts Lake/Rominta Forest Project


In the middle of August some 500 locals from Kaliningrad, Lithuania and Poland gathered in the village Krasnolesye, on the Russian side in this Natural Park area shared by all three countries. The gathering was the closing event of the CBSS Project Support Facility Project on establishing local networks and creating ideas for sustainable development in this area.

As the next step, through a Seed Money Facility for the EU Baltic Sea Strategy, the European Union granted funding for a follow-up project aiming at preparing an application for a larger flagship project within the EU Baltic Sea Strategy. Again the project will be aimed at the local communities and their needs in terms of developing, for example, employment in the tourism and culture sector. This is one of the outcomes of the special focus on the South Eastern Baltic Area (SEBA) decided by the CBSS already in 2011. The project will be presented to a wider audience at a Conference in Kaliningrad at the end of October 2014.