60th Executive Board meeting, Lahti, 11 March 2011

Minutes of the  60th Meeting of the Executive Board

  Lahti, Finland, 11 March 2011

                                                                        

The 60th meeting of the Executive Board of the Union of the Baltic Cities was held on 11 March 2011 in Lahti, Finland, upon the invitation of Mr Jyrki Myllyvirta, Mayor of Lahti. The meeting was attended by the members of Executive Board, representatives of the Commissions, members of Strategy task force.  The list of participants is attached to the minutes.

 1.                  Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda.

The meeting was opened by Per Bødker Andersen, President of the Union. Mr Andersen expressed his gratitude to the hosts of the meeting for inviting the UBC Executive Board to hold the meeting in Lahti. The meeting adopted the agenda, attached to the minutes.

 2.         Election of two persons who, together with the President, will check the minutes.

Mikko Lohikoski, Director for Foreign Affairs, Turku and Anders Franzen, Development Manager, Växjö, were elected to check the minutes together with the President.   

3.         Presentation of the city of Lahti  

 Kari Porra, Director of the Lahti Region Environmental Service presented the city of Lahti.

Lahti is located in the Southern Finland, 100 kilometers from Helsinki. Since its foundation 1905 till 1970’s Lahti was the fastest growing city in Finland, from below 3000 to above 90 000 inhabitants. The industrial restructuring in 1970’s and 1990’s was severe for Lahti, the growth almost ceased. Now Lahti is again in clear growth. With more than  100 000 inhabitants, Lahti is the eighth largest city in Finland. Among the strong points of Lahti there are e.g. good environment for business and education, logistical location, attractive residential environment, compact urban structure, nature.

Lahti is both an environmentally clean city and one of environmental know-how. It is also internationally famous for its winter world cup competitions. A varied selection of green environments including unpolluted forests and lakes provide good opportunities for tourism. Moreover, congresses and mass events are two developing branches of tourism in Lahti.

Lahti’s goal is to be a sustainable city. The key aim of environmental protection is to reduce the load on the environment and to prevent the spoiling of the environment. The general environmental awareness of the city’s residents and businesses has been increasing through educational and advisory work. The sustainable use of the area’s natural resources and the implementation of sustainable development in all the city’s operations are promoted. Also, the city work to prevent climate change, conserve and increase biodiversity, to increase environmental know-how. 

4.         Application for membership from Falun, Sweden.

Presentation of the city of Falun was made by Susanne Norberg, Deputy Mayor, Torkel Birgersson, City Manager and Anders Lundgren, International Secretary.

Falun is the cultural and administrative centre for the county of Dalarna with a population of approximately 55 000 inhabitants. During the 14th century, a market place called Falan sprung up on the banks and attracted settlers. Once the ore-mining developed, the town grew, and in 1641 it was granted its town charter by Queen Kristina. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Falu mine was one of the world’s largest copper mines and one of Sweden’s largest workplaces with more than 1,200 employed miners. In those days, Falun was also the second largest town in Sweden after Stockholm.

Over 1,000 years of industrial activities have made their mark on Falun. In 2001, UNESCO declared the mine and the historical industrial landscape with the mining environment around Falun a World Heritage Site.

Currently the city is experiencing change and expansion. The joint focus on three strong profile areas has provided a solid basis for development. It is within the three areas health and sports, culture and tourism, media and IT that many of Falun’s entrepreneurs come together and create new ventures. A centre for education and business has been set up at the Dalregement Business Park. World-leading companies such as Stora Enso, Ericsson, Scania and Cederroth are represented in Falun. Falun offers a rich cultural life, particularly at the Dala Theatre and the Dalarna Museum. 

Decision:

The Board decided to accept Falun as a member of the Union of the Baltic Cities and wished Falun a successful cooperation with other UBC member cities. 

5.         Activity report of the Commission on Culture, Chair Tarja Hautamäki, Vaasa

Tarja Hautamäki, Chairperson of the Commission on Culture (CoC) presented the report of the commission’s activities October 2009 – September 2010. The full report is attached to the minutes.

Ms Hautamäki presented the current CoC’s Board members, namely: Tarja Hautamäki Vaasa, Agrita Ozola Tukums, Olga Cherkasova St. Petersburg, Kim Dawartz Naestved, Björn F. Holmvik Bergen, Charlotte Lundkvist Umeå. Maarit Keto-Seppälä, Turku, is the commission Secretary. The Board of the commission met in Tallinn 22-24 April 2010 and in Umeå on 22-23 October 2010.

Ms Hautamäki informed that two working sessions were organized in 2010. The 13th Annual working session was organised by the City of Turku, Department of Culture, on 22-25 September 2009. The theme was “The Cultural Dimension of Baltic cooperation – Developing Creative Industries”. There were 7 lecturers and speakers, 20 participants from 10 cities from 8 countries.

The 14th Annual Working Session was held in Umeå on 22-23 October 2010 on the theme “The Role of Culture in City planning” with 9 lectures and speakers. The session gathered together 29 participants from 15 cities from 6 countries.

Ms Hautamäki reminded that the UBC Cultural Prize had been awarded since 2006. In 2010 the theme was “Multicultural dialogue". There were ten applications from five countries: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The prize of the year 2010 was given to Liepaja City Culture Department for the Maritime Festival.

The Festival of the Baltic Cities was held in St. Petersburg 11-13 June 2010. The main focus of the festival was drama. The Board members were informed that in 2011 the festival will be held in Turku in May. The programme will be sent out soon. 

Also, Ms Hautamäki recalled the European Neighbours Day celebrated on 28 May 2010. European Federation of Local Solidarity (www.european-neighbours-day.eu) contacted CoC to make the Neighbours Day more recognizable in the UBC network. CoC decided to support the idea by spreading information to the UBC member cities.

Moreover, CoC decided to collaborate with Bridging Ages network as a partner. The Bridging Ages network organized a conference “Applied Cultural Heritage, How telling past at historic site benefits society”. It was held on 17-19 November 2010 in Kalmar. CoC supported the participation of the representatives of UBC member cities.

Ms Hautamäki informed that in March 2011 the Baltic Creative Management project application to the BSR programme is planned to be submitted. A series of workshops and meetings for planning this project were held in Umeå 1-4 September, in Tallinn 12-14 October and in Jyväskylä 30 November – 1 December. Umeå, Vaasa, Tukums, Bergen, Riga, Rostock, Gdańsk and Jyväskylä expressed an interest in this project. They will be asked for confirmation in March 2011. 

The Catalogue of Cultural Institutions is available on www.ubc.net.

Finally, Ms Hautamäki expressed the commission’s will to maintain its international contacts, e.g. with Les Rencontres, AER (Assembly of European Regions) Culture for health working group, Bridging Ages, LVRLAC. 

Mikko Lohikoski referred to the European Capital of Culture competition. Tallinn and Turku are ECC in 2011, Umeå will be ECC in 2014 and many cities from the Baltic Sea region, also UBC members, are interested in this nomination. He suggested creating a public forum for the UBC members to get information, exchange the ideas and experience. He asked if there were any discussions on how to link UBC in a visible way to this competition.

Ms Hautamäki responded that the idea-cafe was planned to be organised during the next Festival of Baltic Cities in Turku as an informal forum for those cities who won the title already and those who have been applying for it. As some practical issues are still being discussed, the information could not be spread out yet. Also, a Baltic Creative Management project, in which the UBC cities are involved, is related to the European Capital of Culture.

President Andersen referred to the cooperation with the Lake Victoria Region, encouraging the Commissions to use the contacts, though there is no formal cooperation any longer.

He also agreed that the cities could help each other to be successful in European Capital of Culture competition. This is also a way of presenting UBC Europe wide. The culture is a key element in the city development.

Marie-Louise Rönnmark, Mayor of Umeå, 1st Vice-President of UBC, suggested that cities could link their own homepages directly to the UBC website. The Board supported the proposal and encouraged member cities to make links to the UBC homepage. 

6.         Activity report of the Commission on Gender Equality, Coordinator Helene Brewer, Umeå

Helene Brewer, Coordinator of the Commission on Gender Equality, presented the report of the commission’s activities October 2009 – October 2010. The full report is attached to the minutes.

Ms Brewer informed that plans of the commission for spring 2010 were disrupted by the volcanic ash cloud. The commission has been preparing a conference in Umeå concerning the Baltic Sea Strategy to lobby on including trafficking issues and combating prostitution into the Strategy. Due to ash cloud (the evening prior to the event) the conference was cancelled.

Spring meeting of the Commission was also cancelled due to ash cloud. The meeting was finally organised in October 2010 in Panevėžys, Lithuania. Participants from Lithuania, Poland, Finland, Sweden took part. Preparation of campaign 2011, study visits to shelter house and social help centre, seminar on gender equality for municipality of Panevėžys staff and politicians were the main points of the meeting.

One of the important meetings for future collaboration was a meeting at the newly opened European Institute of Gender Equality (EIGE). They were very interested in the UBC network and commission’s work and report. Another meeting was held with the municipality of Vilnius in order to inspire future Vilnius participation in the commission.

In autumn 2010 the Commission started work on the awareness raising campaign to be launched in April 2011 during the meeting in Gdańsk.

Ms Brewer stressed social sustainability is essential for the city development. The future challenge of the commission is to make the people aware of that fact. Power imbalance, violation against the human rights, prostitution and human trafficking are to be addressed by the commission. The commission also keeps lobbying to include these issues into the EU Strategy for the BSR.

7.         Activity report of the Commission on Urban Planning, Chair Sirpa Kallio, Helsinki

Sirpa Kallio, Chairperson of the Commission on Urban Planning (CUP), presented the report of the commission’s activities October 2009 – December 2010. The full report is attached to the minutes.

The main activities of the UBC Commission on Urban Planning (CUP) during the period between September 2009 (after the general Conference in Kristiansand) and December 2010 have concentrated on continuation and strengthening the cooperation within the commission’s network and organising two annual seminars.

CUP held its 21st seminar in Tampere, Finland on 14 – 17 April 2010. The seminar theme “Edges of the City Centre and Reuse of Traffic Areas” focused on an acute question in many cities, namely increasing the density of city centres and avoiding urban sprawl. Also climate change and sustainability in urban planning were taken into account in the seminar programme. The workshops concentrated on two traffic areas: the first workshop on a lake shore area next to a busy highway that needs to be connected to the urban structure and the second workshop on reuse of the former railway cargo station area. There were 40 seminar participants from Baltic countries, Germany, Poland, Russia, Scandinavian countries.

The 22nd seminar was held in Šiauliai, Lithuania on 7-9 October 2010. One of the aims was to find ways to increase the attractiveness of the city and to discuss how urban planning could help the city to keep its present inhabitants and possibly even increase the number of population. Ms Kallio stressed that one of the main conclusions of seminar was that the cities active in finding ways to solve their problems are the ones that survive.

Since April 2008 the members of the CUP Steering Committee are Lars-Göran Boström Umeå, Niels-Peter Mohr Århus, Marek Karzynski Gdynia, Mara Liepa-Zemesa Riga and Sirpa Kallio Helsinki as the chairperson of the commission. In 2010 the CUP Steering Committee had 2 preparatory meetings with the seminar host cities and also numerous e-mail and phone meetings on acute issues regarding the administration and planning of CUP activities. Ms Kallio reminded that the CUP does not have a secretariat nor a steady organisation in addition of the Steering Committee. She also informed Mr Boström would finish working for Umeå in 2011.

Ms Kallio also presented the leaflet devoted to the history of the Commission on Urban Planning 1997-2011.

Ms Rönnmark noticed that nowadays the urban planning was not the way of building roads any more. It is something what is happening inside the city. This is a multi-dimensional process so it would be great if more commissions would be involved in the CUP work.

Ms Kallio informed that CUP had a joint meeting with the Commission on Transportation and also was represented at the Commission on Culture seminar in Umeå entitled: “The role of culture in city planning”. Also, the joint seminar is planned with the Commission on Environment in Halmstad, in Spring 2012. 

8.                  XI General Conference in Liepaja 2011. Information from the GC Task Force meeting in Turku, 2-3 February.

President Andersen informed the UBC Board members that the GC Task Force met in Turku on 2-3 February and in Lahti on 10 March. President Andersen opened the discussion on the GC programme. In his opinion the 20th anniversary of UBC would be a natural point of reference. However, not only the past should be in focus, but also the present and the future. Who are we? What do we do? How do we implement the goals set by the international and national levels? How do we implement the goals described in our strategy? These are the questions to be discussed. President Andersen suggested having two main axes of the programme, namely the timeline past-present-future and the question of identity. UBC is 10 nations, 106 cities, but also the East and the West. It covers the wide range of cultures, different possibilities in terms of doing businesses, ways of working, etc. Inviting the keynote speakers is an important matter. The GC Task Force proposed inter alia Mr Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Mr Uffe Elemann Jensen, the Baltic Development Forum. BDF is interested to tighten the cooperation with the UBC.

Mr Anders Franzen agreed it was essential to find good speakers and cover the topics that would make the cities interested to come to the conference. Mr Franzen referred to the elections at the General Conference. At the General Conference there will be elections of the: Executive Board, President, 1st Vice-President, two Vice-Presidents, Board of Audit, Secretariat host city, Auditor. Mr Franzen said the present Board members should activate themselves and other cities to elect the candidates to the Board. He said some preparations must be done as well when it comes to the Presidium. He wondered if there was a tender procedure for choosing the host city for secretariat. He said some procedures should be adopted when it comes to the UBC elections. He suggested forming an election committee responsible for this statutory task. He expressed opinion there was not much time for preparations.

As regards the elections President Andresen recommended the Board members to act within the nations before the next Board meeting. At the next Board meeting it could be suggested how to proceed.

Mr Lohikoski said that elections were the statutory issue. Member cities from each country  should propose the candidate to the Board. He agreed it should be done before the next Board meeting. The same applies to other elected bodies. Mr Lohikoski reminded that the General Conference had two parts: plenary sessions on the certain topics and the session devoted to the statutory obligations.

He supported the idea to devote the time to the 20th anniversary of UBC, to focus on the changes in the region, and also on the present and the future. He proposed the first plenary session would bring the outlook on what had happened during these 20 years from the cold war to the present cooperation and what will happen during the next 10-20 years. He said eg. Paavo Lipponen, former Prime Minister of Finland, high-level representative of St. Petersburg, representative of Hamburg, Uffe Ellemann Jensen, BDF, and Commissioner Hahn could be invited. The second plenary session could highlight the cities’ role and their expectations, interests, etc. 20 years of cooperation could be evaluated from their perspective. Mr Lohikoski suggested also a birthday party to celebrate the anniversary with e.g. the UBC Honorary President Anders Engstrom. Mr Lohikoski suggested to honour all distinguished people who contributed to the UBC success over past years.

Mr Lohikoski stressed, however, that whenever the history was discussed, the perspective should be at the future. That is why the theme of the conference could be “Building on the past, heading for the future”.

Ms Rönnmark liked this way of thinking – taking the good examples from the past and going for the future. She added that it would be necessary also to put the UBC in relation to the EU Strategy for BSR. As far as the keynote speakers are concerned, Ms Rönnmark proposed Margot Wallström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Tarja Hautamäki suggested sending special invitations to the persons involved in founding the commissions, e.g. Sławomir Szafrański and Olov Gibson, the founders of the CoC, in order to honour them. President Andersen said it was a good suggestion and it would be taken into consideration.

Björn Grönholm, Head of Secretariat Commission on Environment, Turku, expressed an opinion the time was running fast and suggested having at least the main message on the whole conference ready during the Lahti meeting. He noticed that BSSSC had been planning its conference at the same time which might influence the speakers’ decisions. Mr Grönholm suggested also some spontaneous events which could make the conference more interactive.

President Andersen recalled the Solutions Conference in Turku, where the spots around the convention centre allowed to make presentations and meet people. He said that the cities and organizations represented in Liepāja could present themselves in a more spontaneous way.

Ms Karin Wohlgemuth, Rostock, reminded that during the GC Task Force meeting in Turku the idea to focus on the BSR – China relations was discussed. Rostock has already contacted the city of Hefei, China. The Vice-Mayor of Hefei is ready to deliver the keynote speech on city management in the process of urbanization.

President Andersen stressed the necessity of providing topics relevant to the cities’ expectations and interests. The programme could contain e.g. question of demographic challenge as the societies are getting older.

Mr Lohikoski referred to the proposal of Rostock saying that there was a need for a dialogue with emerging Asia. It would be a good idea to invite some guests from China to discuss the global problems, e.g. environmental issues, as this is a common ground and may bring new business possibilities, as well.

Mr Porra added that there was a cooperation between Japan, China and Korea similar to the cooperation within the UBC. He informed that there was also a research carried out on the  

Baltic cooperation achievements. In Mr Porra’s opinion, the view from the other part of the world might be very useful.

Ms Rönnmark informed the Board members that she had contacted the representative of the Chamber of Commerce in China asking about their current work. She said that if this topic was to be a part of the General Conference, it would be crucial to find out who would be a person to be listened to with an interest.

Mr Franzen proposed Jerzy Buzek, the President of the EU Parliament, to be considered as a speaker. 

President Andersen summarised that the UBC anniversary should be a stepping-stone to the discussion about the future and this should be combined with increasing the UBC’s attractiveness to other partners. The issues especially important to the member cities should be included in the programme.

Jørgen Kristiansen, Councillor, city of Kristiansand, asked if the representatives of the Chamber of Commerce from the cities would  be invited. President Andersen responded that there would be the Baltic Development Forum or the Baltic Sea Chamber of Commerce representative.

Decision:

The Board authorized the Presidium to work out the final programme and invite the keynote speakers. 

9.         UBC Strategy 2010-2015 implementation. Meeting of the TF on expert exchange and TF on communication and marketing.

Mikko Lohikoski, UBC Strategy Coordinator, reminded that the UBC Strategy, adopted by the 10th GC in Kristiansand, set a number of tasks. He informed that two working groups were convened to work on two tasks of the Strategy: Communication and Marketing Strategy and Expert Exchange.

Mr Lohikoski informed that all UBC member cities had been invited to share their opinions and experiences on marketing and communication, as well as on expert exchange programme. These two issues were among the most important ones for the member cities surveyed in 2007.

Mr Lohikoski presented the outcome from the meeting of two Strategy task forces that took place in Lahti on 10 March. The TF proposed to start a process of formulating the Communication and Marketing Strategy with an analytical phase. The member cities will be consulted on the issues connected with this strategy. Also, the interviews will be made with the stakeholders outside the organization, e.g. Baltic Sea region organizations, national governments, Brussels, etc. This survey would help to get a picture of the UBC responding the basic questions: who are we? what do we want? where are we going? who do we stand for? etc.

The second stage would be a process itself. Mr Lohikoski suggested organizing one or two workshops with 20 – 30 participants to discuss the information collected during the survey.

The third step would be an operational phase when the action plan should be worked out. The main task are to formulate the main messages, to choose the channels of communication (e.g. website, media, newsletters, presence in Brussels), to define the target groups. 

Mr Lohikoski suggested having the draft proposal of the strategy ready for the General Conference in Liepāja. It could be consulted then to get a feedback from the member cities to be taken into account. The final proposal could be ready for the first Board meeting after the General Conference.

Finally, Mr Lohikoski asked the Board to allocate the funds for the process, as the survey should be done by the experts. The task force agreed that Kiel and Kristiansand would be responsible for the process.

Joanna Leman, Head of the Foreign Affairs, Gdynia, presented the conclusions from the task force on expert exchange discussion. It was decided to start with two parallel processes: to search for the funding opportunities and to work out the programme on expert exchange on the basis of the UBC cities experience. That would mean also defining the needs of the cities.

The Board was asked to allocate the funds in the UBC budget to proceed with the expert exchange programme, e.g. for a survey on financing opportunities.

Marketta Mäkinen, Director of International Relations, Jyväskylä, presented the city’s international staff exchange programme for employees that started in 2000.

Employees of the city of Jyväskylä are offered an annual opportunity to apply for a 1 to 3 month period of training and work abroad. Through the international training program, they can improve their international competence and obtain new skills and ideas for their work from abroad. Simultaneously, employees from abroad have a reciprocal opportunity to work for the city of Jyväskylä.

A total of 2 to 5 people from the staff of Jyväskylä can be selected to the training program each year. There is one application period per year, starting in May and ending in August. To be selected, applicants must contribute actively to the realization of the exchange and possess proper motivation for their work and its development.

The exchange must provide each person with learning opportunities and challenges on their respective area of expertise. Objectives for the exchange period are set together with the supervisor. The pre-exchange training includes language studies and the planning of a personal learning process.

The city's international networks and cooperation connections are utilized in the search of exchange locations.

During the exchange period, an employee of the city of Jyväskylä receives his/her salary as per normal practice. The city reimburses the travel costs of its employees working abroad as well as reasonable rent costs in the destination country. The employees are responsible for any other costs abroad.

Ms Mäkinen recommended to enter the website for any further details:

http://www.jyvaskyla.fi/hallinto/kansainvalinen_toiminta/international_relations/International%20exchange%20programme

President Andersen informed of an e-mail sent by the city of Växjö to the Presidium concerning implementation of the UBC Strategy. The President agreed the implementation of the Strategy elements is very challenging and important.

Mr Franzen said they were wondering about implementation of different actions listed in the Strategy. He said at least a couple of them should be done each year. He noticed that the urban forum and the survey were planned last year, however there were no decisions taken. He stressed that the priority of tasks and actions should be discussed which was connected also with allocating the money. He asked why the UBC started with Communication and Marketing Strategy and Expert Exchange. In his opinion those two tasks were essential but some other would be just as important as them. Mr Franzen stressed the need to answer what the cities’ expectations were and what UBC expected from the cities to do. He asked how the actions should be organized and who should be responsible, the Presidium only? the Board? He wondered how the commissions and the secretariat should be linked to the actions. Mr Franzen said that the Strategy progress report should be presented to the General Conference.

President Andersen agreed that those were the challenges to be discussed also at the General Conference. Regarding the commissions he noticed that they are independent and self-governed which was the basic idea of the organization. They can take up the actions themselves but also may be asked to do so. President Andersen said it would be interesting to see if the commissions’ potential had been used to the benefit of a majority of the UBC member cities. He suggested an external audit on how the commissions had been fulfilling their tasks. The results could be discussed at the Board meeting and presented at the General Conference.

President Andersen asked Mr Franzen which actions should be prioritized in his opinion.

Mr Franzen was not sure if he was able to prioritize any action at that moment. He pointed out that the cities might not be too familiar on what the UBC did for them. Therefore, the Communication and Marketing Strategy is essential and might be a base for other actions. Mr Franzen referred also to the task of the Strategy ‘UBC as key partner in promoting the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea region’. He also wondered how UBC should be related to BALTMET.

President Andersen ensured things were going in the right direction. He stressed the necessity to mobilize the member cities in preparation of the UBC position papers. The concrete actions should be taken as this is a question of vitalizing our work. In President’s opinion it would be also a message to the cities that they are needed. The members could be asked before the next Board meeting how they want to be used.

Regarding the urban forum, Mr Lohikoski admitted it was important to have a political forum. He informed it was discussed last year and in January 2011 in Turku with the Mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu. Due to the autumn elections in Sweden, the final decision was postponed. The forum should be organized in 2012 and further discussions with Malmö will be continued.

Mr Lohikoski also informed about the proposal from the Baltic Development Forum to organize in 2012 some event jointly (an e-mail sent on 06.03.2011 from BDF Director Hans Brask to UBC Secretary General Pawel Zaboklicki). BDF is interested to identify common activities with UBC. Moreover BALTMET made a formal proposal of cooperation in September 2010.

Ms Rönnmark regarded the point ‘Get the UBC voice better heard and re-evaluate effectiveness of it lobbying in Brussels’ as an important one. The UBC should get its voice better heard in places where it counts e.g. in Brussels. She also said it was necessary to be more strategic, to have a long-term vision.

Mr Franzen agreed it was important that the UBC voice was heard. He added it was also necessary to strengthen the organization itself. The systematic data collection was also important, he said.

Mr Grönholm informed there was a database concerning the environmental issues with 500 cases in different sectors and around 1 million of visitors so far. 

President Andersen noticed it was a question of more efficient way of communicating the world that there was a UBC website linked to the cities. There is a place for database created by the cities within e.g. urban planning, environment, culture, etc. It crucial to vitalize the member cities.

Mr Lohikoski reminded the UBC’s main goal was to serve the interests of its members. Once their expectations are recognized, once they are served effectively they would also participate more actively. He said it was important to inform the decision-makers why the city should belong to the network, what the value of it was. Concluding, he said it was a question of internal communication.

Mr Porra admitted he was not successful as a contact person in Lahti to make people more involved in the UBC activities, though the network is well-organized and might bring many benefits to the city. He promised to try to convince them again. He stressed that it was not only the Board’s or the Presidium’s task but first of all it was a task of the member cities themselves.

President Andersen concluded that it was necessary to communicate internally and externally what had been achieved. He asked if anyone had used the website to contact the other cities to find solutions for their problems.

Mr Kristiansen responded he asked the UBC Secretariat to send out the enquiry on the free bus rides and received a useful feedback.  

10.       UBC financial report for 2010 and budget for 2011.

Secretary General Paweł Żaboklicki presented the financial report for 2010. Mr Żaboklicki said the income was mostly generated by the membership fees and the assets saved in 2009. Main expenditure were: the costs of the commissions, services/maintenance, meetings, communication. The full report is attached to the minutes. Five annexes are attached to the report: membership fees, expenditure of UBC commissions, contributions to the secretariats, projects with external funding, cities’ contributions to the UBC events.

Subsequently the Secretary General presented the budget proposal for 2011. The budget is attached to the minutes. Mr Żaboklicki reminded the resources granted to the commissions vary and depend on the contents of the action plan, as decided by the previous Board meeting in Tallinn in October 2010. He also noticed that the Board or the Presidium could assign the funds for the tasks connected with the UBC Strategy implementation from the budget reserve.

Secretary General reminded also a rule to be followed by the commissions that not more than 35% could be spent by the lead city(s) for: secretariat, travel, mailing, office supplies, promotion materials. Any changes in the commission budget require President's approval.

Mr Anders Franzen asked if the member cities could use the Adobe Connect Pro program for web conferences.

Mr Żaboklicki responded that Adobe Connect Pro was available for all UBC commissions and all UBC member cities. There were two joint meetings held online, three commissions were represented at each meeting. The invitation to one meeting was sent out to all members. The licence has been bought for one year from September 2010 till August 2011 from the WeZupport company in Kalmar. The facility is coordinated by Commission on Energy secretariat in Oskarshamn.

President Andersen said the commissions that had proposed this initiative should make a report at the General Conference on how the Adobe Connect Pro had been used.

He stressed that information on web meetings opportunity should be available on the UBC website.

Additionally, the President referred to the membership fees. He informed that there was an administration reform in Denmark and, as a result, most of the Danish municipalities were bigger. He asked to pay attention on the number of inhabitants to issue the correct fee invoices. 

Also, he pointed to the unpaid fees. It was decided that some cities which had not paid the fee due to their difficult financial condition would be a passive members temporarily.

The President urged St. Petersburg to cover the membership fees of its satellites.

Mr Andersen suggested that maybe the General Conference in Liepāja should decide that if the fee had not been paid, the city could not be a member any more.

The Board authorized the Presidium to cope with the problem of unpaid fees and present a proposal to the Board.

The Board took note of the financial report for 2010 and adopted the budget for 2011.  

11.       Merger of Commission on Business Cooperation and Commission on Information Society with St.Petersburg & Kolding as chair in 2011.

Esa Kokkonen, Director of the Baltic Institute of Finland, Tampere, representing the Commission on Information Society, reminded there had been several discussions on consolidation of the work of the UBC commissions. The Commission on Business Cooperation and ISCom were considering the merger possibilities as there are many common opportunities in the fields both commissions deal with. Mr Kokkonen informed that also in the framework of the EU Strategy for BSR the information society issues and ICT were included in the economic pillar. The flagships and other projects and activities within the Strategy stress the business element of ICT and information society related cooperation in the BSR, including the cross-border clustering in ICT sector. Merging those two Commissions would create, in Mr Kokkonen’s opinion, a new interesting and strong UBC Commission led by joint forces of the Chairs, St. Petersburg and Kolding, with an active contribution of Kiel, Tampere, Kaunas and hopefully new members. Mr Kokkonen paid the attention to the fact that this cooperation would be an opportunity for a stronger commitment of St. Petersburg to the UBC activities.

Mr Kokkonen on behalf of the Commissions proposed to merge the Business and IS Commissions and to create one UBC Commission on Business Cooperation with St. Petersburg and Kolding as co-chairs. 

Decision:

The Board approved the proposal.

12.       EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region. Actual information on flagship projects chosen by UBC.

Paweł Żaboklicki, UBC Secretary General, informed about the current status of the EU Strategy for BSR flagship projects selected by the Executive Board.

5.1 "Anticipate regional and local impacts of climate change through research".

The flagship is coordinated by Danish Energy Agency. The Board decided that the City of Umeå

would represent UBC in this project. Within the flagship 5.1, the strategic project Baltic Sea Region Climate Change Adaptation Strategy BALTADAPT is carried out. The project is coordinated by the Danish Meteorological Institute.

BALTADAPT Kick-off meeting was held on 10-12 January 2011 in Roskilde. UBC was represented by Ms Carina Keskitalo, researcher at Umeå University, and Ms Zita Tverkute, Head of Ecology Department, Panevėžys. Next meeting is expected in June 2011. 

8.1 "Promote young entrepreneurs" is coordinated by the Danish Ministry of Education.

The Board assigned the Commission on Education to represent UBC in the project.

The kick-off meeting was held in Copenhagen on 20 May 2010. UBC was represented by Annely Veevo, Head of Secretariat Commission on Education and Wolfgang Schmidt, Chairman of the Commission on Business Cooperation. Next meeting is expected in May/June 2011, Copenhagen. 

8.4 "Make the Baltic Sea an Eco-efficient region", EcoRegion is coordinated by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature, Conservation and Nuclear Safety and Swedish  Environmental Protection Agency. The Board asked the Commission on Environment to represent UBC in the project. 

Mr Żaboklicki informed last EcoRegion conference took place in Tallinn on 28-30 September 2010. UBC was represented by Maria Persdotter, Växjö and Sakari Saarinen, Commission on Environment secretariat, Turku. Next EcoRegion Conference is planned to be held on 24-26 May 2011 in Oslo. UBC cities are invited to take part. 

11.1 "Complete the agreed priority transport infrastructures", coordinated by the Lithuanian Ministry for Transport and Communications. The Board appointed the city of Liepaja to represent UBC in this flagship.

Transport Annual Progress Conference took place on 7 December 2010 in Vilnius,         Lithuania. UBC member cities were invited. Next Workshop Baltic Transport Outlook 2030 is to be held in Schwerin on 17-18 March 2011. UBC cities were invited to take part. 

5.3 “Create a network of sustainable cities and villages”, coordinated by Ministry of Environment of Sweden.

The meeting was arranged by the Swedish Ministry of the Environment in Turku on 1 February 2011 in connection with Nordic conference on sustainable development ‘Solutions’. 15 persons from different ministries and networks in the BSR participated. On 3 March 2011 another meeting took place. The focus was on building a sustainability concept for the “network” for the upcoming years. UBC through the Commission on Environment will play an important role in the project. 

BSR InnoShip project coordinated by the Baltic Institute of Finland, belongs to the priority area 4. To become a model region for clean shipping. BSR InnoShip kick-off seminar “Clean and Competitive Baltic Shipping – How Can We Do It?” was held 1 February 2011 in Turku.

 Mr Björn Grönholm said the Commission o Environment was involved in this project. He added that Clean Baltic Sea Shipping coordinated by Lübeck and Trelleborg was a sister project and had also a flagship status. 

13.       Latest conferences attended by UBC representatives.

 President Andersen informed UBC was represented at the following conferences:

•   19th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, 26-28 October, Strasbourg (Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC)

•   Forum of Ionian and Adriatic Cities, 21-22 October, Split (Ms Marie-Louise Rönnmark, UBC 1st Vice President, Mayor of Umeå)

•   B7 and LEADER Conference Planning Europe, 23-24 November 2010, Kärdla (Mr           Georg Linkov, Mayor of Kärdla)

•   87th Plenary Session of the Committee of the Regions, 1-2 December 2010, Brussels    (Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC)

•   1st Annual Progress Conference of the Priority Area No. 11 of the Baltic Sea Strategy,  7 December 2010, Vilnius

•   The Baltic Sea Region Programme conference "The power of the Baltic Sea macro-      region", 30 November -1 December 2010, Jyväskylä, Finland (Mr Markku Andersson,    Mayor of Jyväskylä)

•   Baltadapt kick-off meeting, 10-12 January 2011, Roskilde (Ms Zita Tverkute,      Panevėžys, Ms Carina Keskitalo, Umeå)

•   88th Plenary Session of the Committee of the Regions, 27-28 January 2011, Brussels     (Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC)

•   Solutions local, together - Nordic Conference on Sustainable Development in the           Baltic Sea Region, 31 January – 2 February 2011, Turku (Jarkko Virtanen, Deputy    Mayor of Turku, Mikko Jokinen, Director of Environment, Björn Grönholm, Head of            EnvCom Secretariat)

•   Second Working Meeting on the Implementation of the European Union Strategy for    the Baltic Sea Region, 16-17 February 2011, Gdańsk (Maciej Lisicki, Deputy Mayor of        Gdańsk, Paweł Żaboklicki, Secretary General, Björn Grönholm, Head of EnvCom            Secretariat)

•   Meeting of the Conference of European Cross-border and Interregional City Networks (CECICN), 16 February 2011, Brussels, Krista Taipale, Head of TURKU-Southwest   Finland European  Office

The Board took note of the information. Reports from the conferences are attached to the minutes.

14.       Any other business.

14.1     Joint position paper on the European Union budget for Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 signed by three Baltic Sea organizations namely B7, BSSSC, UBC.

BSSSC, B7 Baltic Sea Islands Network, Union of Baltic Cities prepared a joint position paper on the European Union budget for Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 emphasizing the fact that the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea needs to be backed up financially. The financial support needs to be substantial in order to ensure a joint and coordinated approach to the development of the Baltic Sea region.

President Andersen emphasized it was a very important document showing the unanimous opinion of different Baltic organizations. He informed it was noted in Brussels that those organizations had been speaking with one voice. The paper is attached to the minutes.

14.2     Letter from CECICN to Commissioner Barnier.

The Conference of European Cross-Border and Interregional Cities Network (CECICN) - had been established on 23 April 2010 in Santiago de Compostela by six organisations: Iberian Network of Cross-border Entities (RIET), Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Cities, MedCities, Mission Operationelle Transfrontaliere, Union of the Baltic Cities, Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities (C.A.A.C.). One of the main aims of the new network is to provide cities, border-regions and interregional territories with a stronger voice and higher visibility in the context of the cohesion policies at the European scale. The letter to Commissioner Michel Barnier focuses on two essential objectives to be integrated in the next programming period 2014-2020, namely: development of border territories and Europe without borders as reality. A letter is enclosed to the minutes. 

14.3     Letter from the EUEEP.

European Union of Exiled and Expelled People (EUEEP) made a proposal of cooperation within a cultural project connected to the programs for sustainable tourism in Europe dedicated to the valorization of the historical toponymy in the Baltic regions with reference to their historical changes, ethnographic characteristics and consequent evolution along centuries.

President Andersen suggested putting information on this organization on the UBC website. The cities interested could then join EUEEP activities. However, he did not see the UBC interest in this.

Mr Mikko Lohikoski said there was no reason why UBC could be involved. He stressed the issues the EUEEP had been dealing with were very sensitive and had to be faced in a proper way.

The Board agreed that UBC would not be involved in the project but member cities can decide if they want to cooperate with EUEEP.

14.4     Message from the Association of the Small Towns of Ukraine

The Association of the Small Towns of Ukraine sent the proposal to organize the seminars for the Ukrainian towns to get information on the system of urban management in Baltic Cities, to look for the perspectives of cooperation in the field of special training for the mayors of cities of Ukraine, and to acquaintance with the cultural and historical heritage.

President Andersen was wondering what the UBC could offer. He suggested that maybe the UBC commissions would be interesting for the Ukrainian cities to cooperate within the respective fields of interest.

However, according to Mr Andersen, the UBC should first answer the question on how far the UBC cooperation should be extended. He recalled the Article 3 of the UBC Statute saying that “any coastal city of the Baltic Sea and its gulfs as well as any other city interested in the development of the Baltic Sea Region may become a member city of the Union”. In President’s opinion, widening the area of cooperation to such extent would require the decision of the General Conference.

Mr Lohikoski referred to the cooperation with Belarus which was difficult in terms of politics but necessary when it came to the environmental problems. Belarus is in a drainage basin though do not borders on the Baltic Sea itself. It is, however, enough to be involved in the Baltic Sea cooperation. As far as Ukraine is concerned, Mr Lohikoski was wondering what the UBC could offer and what it could expect. He said the Ukrainian cities should be a part of another regional organization, e.g. the Black Sea organization. Mr Lohikoski concluded the UBC should not expand its cooperation area artificially. It is more important to deepen its commitment in the Baltic Sea region instead. 

The Board agreed with the view that UBC shall operate within the Baltic Sea drainage area.

14.5     Project proposal on multi level governance

Secretary General Paweł Żaboklicki informed the Board members that the Regional Council in Kalmar County and Region Västerbotten contacted UBC with a project cooperation proposal. INVOLVE project refers to the multi-level governance and aims to establish a dialogue amongst actors at all levels of governance in the Baltic Sea region in order to consolidate findings and disseminate good methods and experiences. The aim of this dialogue is to ensure the involvement of all levels of governance, including the European Commission, national ministries and authorities, local/regional authorities, macro-regional organizations, financial institutions, VASAB and HELCOM. The Board supported the idea to join the project.

15.       Next meeting of the Executive Board, Karlstad, 17 June 2011.

The Board received an invitation from the Mayor of Karlstad, Sweden, to hold the meeting in Karlstad on 17 June 2011. The Board accepted the invitation and decided to hold the 61st meeting in Karlstad on 17 June 2011.

 

Per Bødker Andersen                                                            Paweł Żaboklicki

Chairman                                                                              Secretary

  

Mikko Lohikoski                                                                    Anders Franzen

Adjuster                                                                                 Adjuster