Minutes of the 70th Meeting of the Executive Board
Turku, 2 June 2014
1. Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda.
Per Bødker Andersen, the President of the Union, opened the meeting. Mr Andersen expressed his gratitude to the hosts for inviting the UBC Executive Board to hold its 70th meeting in Turku in conjunction with the 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and 16th Baltic Development Forum Summit. The meeting adopted the agenda, attached to the minutes.
2. Election of two persons who, together with the President, will check the minutes.
Karin Wohlgemuth, Rostock and Anders Franzén, Vaxjö were elected to check the minutes together with the President.
3. Presentation of the City of Turku.
Jarkko Virtanen, Deputy Mayor of Turku, UBC Vice-President, made a presentation of the city of Turku.
Turku, which was founded in the 13th century, is the oldest city in Finland and one of the oldest cities in Northern Europe with 180.000 inhabitants in the city, and over 300.000 inhabitants in Turku Region. Being 6th largest city in Finland, Turku is the economic centre of subregion. The Region hosts 20.000 businesses, 130.000 work posts and 47.000 students.
Turku, which together with Tallinn was the European Capital of Culture in 2011, hosts numerous music, literature, theatre and sport events. The city is also a home to many renowned universities. Due to its location it is also a centre of maritime events and conferences.
City of Turku co-operates actively with other cities in different networks not only in Finland, but also internationally. The most significant international networks for Turku are for example, UBC, Eurocities, New Hanseatic League, Baltic Region Healthy Cities Association or Network of the European Capitals of Culture.
Blue Growth is a wide and comprehensive whole of marine functions, creating a breeding ground for business and technological solutions. Turku is an innovative city that searches for the solutions in marine environment and energy technology spheres. It is also a sit to Meridiem – number one network providing services for maritime industry. BioHealth sector, employs 2,500 people and engages hundreds of students and international researchers. Creative industries, on the other hand, employ approximately 8.000 people in 2,500 businesses and its turnover is approximately 1.3 billion Eur.
4. "Best practices and the challenges the UBC cities face regarding youth”, as outcome of the Commission on Youth meeting in Kaunas, 1-4 April 2014.
Hasan Habib, Chairman of the Commission on Youth Issues, informed the Board about outcomes of the meeting.
On 1-4 April 2014, 20 youngsters and 16 civil servants from Kolding, Guldborgsund, Karlstad, Falun, Gävle, Turku, Kotka, Tallinn, Maardu, Kuressaare, Riga, Liepāja, Kaunas and Gdańsk gathered in Kaunas at the spring meeting of the UBC Commission on Youth Issues. The main aim of the meeting was to develop a strategy and an action plan for 2015-2017, after the cities of Turku and Gävle have taken over the chair.
All participating cities made presentations about things the others could learn from their municipalities and the challenges they face regarding the youth. The cities presented the inspiring projects and programmes on the youth issues. The presentations gave a good overview of the current situation on the youth work in Baltic Sea Region and triggered many interesting discussions.
Participants informed about youth challenges in their cities: unemployment, social exclusion, lack of influence, too many organized activities and too little interest, lack of resources, youngsters are moving to bigger cities, drugs, alcohol and other addictions, lack of motivation and social skills, unhealthy lifestyle, missing match between schools and labour market, lack of job experience, need for more effective career counselling, not enough co-operation between active and non-active youngsters (social inclusion), inflexible education system, too much pressure on youth to be successful.
The rest of the day was dedicated to the existing strategy and the action plan. Analysis and brainstorming on partnerships, burning issues on youth and priorities of COYI were on the agenda. The second day’s sessions gave a good preparation for the work on the new strategy and the action plan. After many discussions, the draft of COYI’s strategy and action plan for 2015-2017 was adopted.
On the last day of the meeting, the Commission created a working group for the next Youth Conference which will be held parallely to the UBC General Conference. The Commission decided on convening their autumn meeting in November in Riga, which is this year’s European Capital of Culture.
Last, but no least, the participants were introduced to the Lithuanian culture and could get acquainted with beautiful Kaunas.
President Andersen encouraged the Commission to make the presentation public on the website, and asked the Chairman to ask the cities to give the best of their experiences for the Task Force on youth employment and well-being. The President thanked for the big job the Commission had done.
5. "Talent Attraction and place branding with regards to workforce and tourism" , as outcome of the conference of the Commission on Business & Tourism held in Kristiansand on 8-9 April 2014.
Jørgen Kristiansen, Deputy Mayor of Kristiansand, informed the Board about outcomes of the conference.
Talent attraction and place branding with regards to workforce and tourism set the agenda for a two day public forum arranged by the newly merged Commission on Business and Tourism in Kristiansand, Norway, on 8-9 April 2014.
Jørgen Kristiansen, Deputy Mayor of Kristiansand and UBC Board member, welcomed participants from Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland and Sweden representing local governments, international organisations, business development agencies and tourism organisations in Kristiansand. The extensive programme included the presentation and discussion of several projects from the Kristiansand region and the BSR.
Participants debated about strategies for fostering of regional start-up cultures through incubation (incubator Innoventus) and assistance for entrepreneurs (Connect network). The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises (NHO) presented their programmes to mobilize highly qualified talents for positions as leaders, board members and other decision makers from different target groups (Global Future, Female Future, Summit). The regional trainee programme Trainee Sør has attracted during the last 10 years over 100 highly qualified master graduates to the region. The programme is based on the network cooperation among 30 private businesses and public institutions in southern Norway. Based on its model four other regional trainee programmes have been established in Norway and the forum participants showed great interest in possible adoptions of the concept.
The BalticlaB project is a EUSBSR flagship project and is managed by the CBSS Secretariat. It aims at bringing together young, creative minds in the Baltic Region to create and explore new perspectives and sources for inspiration.
The site visit at the Kilden centre of performing arts and the discussion with its marketing director Eldbjørg Dahl gave the participants insight in the cornerstone role that the concert, theatre and cultural house has for the attractiveness of the Kristiansand Region.
Along with key players, such as the Kristiansand Dyreparken Zoo and Color Line, Kilden is a member of the USUS cluster for companies within the travel, experience and cultural industry in Southern Norway. Project manager Kirsti Mathiesen Hjemdahl introduced the forums participants with organisation, strategic aims and the clusters regional repurchasing strategy.
During the past decade the economic development in Southern Norway has been significantly influenced by some fast growing energy technology companies. They are organized in the cluster Norwegian Offshore and Drilling Engineering (NODE) and participants discussed the mutual impact of cluster and region has with the founding cluster manager Kjell O. Johannessen.
To match ideas for possible future projects with EU policy and concrete programmes the South Norway European Office was invited.
Jørgen Kristiansen underlined that cities compete for talents. The cities must be attractive as a place for work and living. The conclusion from the meeting was that the talent attraction is important, as one should not talk about creating jobs but about how to attract the right people to the city, and then the jobs will be created. Some Board members had reversed point of view on that issue.
6. "Ideas & solutions concerning illegal graffiti, taxi services, offenses related to night bars, noise and youth delinquency, traffic offences, CCTV" as outcome 2nd International Conference on Municipal Police held on 14-16 May 2014 in Vilnius.
Leszek Walczak, Chairman of the Commission on Local Safety, informed the Board about outcomes of the conference.
Municipal Police has to act on social and environmental developments to provide solutions for the existing and upcoming challenges. To meet this challenge, 2nd International Conference of Municipal Police, was held in Vilnius (Lithuania) on May 14–16, 2014. The conference offered a platform for an international exchange of ideas, opinions, perspectives, results and solutions concerning illegal graffiti, taxi services, offenses related to night bars, noise and youth delinquency, traffic offences, CCTV, etc.
The speakers presented their experience, ideas and findings. Participants had a chance to find out more on safety and reliability orientated talks and on the ongoing progress in innovations as well as the status quo in the cities.
UBC Commission on Local Safety and City of Vilnius were co-organisers of the conference.
7. "How to redevelop the central passage of the city along the railroad , Örebro as case study" , as outcome of the seminar held in Örebro on 18-21 May 2014.
Björn Grönholm, Head of Secretariat Commission on Environment, informed the Board about outcomes of the seminar.
Örebro in Sweden has an amazing city centre with a castle surrounded by water at the core of the city. Here you will find a vibrant city life, beautiful buildings and a park which has been named the most beautiful park in the country. However, when one arrives in the city by train or by car one is greeted by something entirely different.
Örebro decided to transform the central passage along the railroad. It is about giving the city a new face but at the same time keeping all functions intact. How can we make this happen?
On 18-21 May 2014 three UBC Commissions on Urban Planning, on Environment and Transportation met to solve the most challenging problems of the city. The workshop area includes the region along the railroad and Östra Bangatan between the recreational area Gustavsvik and the water tower Svampen. The aim of the seminar was to find the ways of redeveloping the area with all existing functions kept and some new added. The Commissions debated on how to make it greener and energy sufficient and at the same time more friendly and accessible.
Björn Grönholm informed that the UBC experts from different commissions debated for three days and the last day the results were presented to the city leaders. This concept of working was implemented for the third time, previously there were conferences in Halmstad in 2012 and Tallinn in 2013. Mr Grönholm expressed an opinion that combining experts from different commissions is a smart solution. Also local politicians get direct connection to the UBC.
President Andersen added, that at such conferences we show local politicians, that UBC is working internationally (Balticly), and people learn from one another; also new ideas pop up.
8. Flagship project “Citizens for Safety” , information on latest activities.
Leszek Walczak, Chairman of the Commission on Local Safety, informed the Board about latest activities within the project “Citizens for Safety”.
In January 2014 the Gdańsk Municipal Guard and Investitionsbank Schleswig-Holstein entered into a grant agreement S37 - project “Building urban safety through citizens participation (Citizens for Safety)”. The EU grant is 34 368,90 EUR (total budget of the project is 40 432 EUR). The project has been appointed as a flagship project of EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and operates under an umbrella of the co-financing mechanism for Seed Money Facility.
EUSBSR is a macro-regional strategy, which aims to strengthen cooperation within the Baltic Sea Region and to overcome the challenges and promote sustainable development in the region.
The entire project is scheduled for 23 January 2014 - 22 April 2015. The preparation phase for developing project idea will take no more than a year.
Gdańsk Municipal Guard as the lead partner will cooperate with two project partners from the Baltic Sea countries: Liepāja Municipal Police (Latvia) and Vilnius City Municipal Administration (Lithuania). Gdańsk Municipal Guard is the leader of the Commission on Local Safety.
One of the key tasks of Gdańsk Municipal Guard is to collect data related to the security threats in the local environment, including studies of public opinion and the opinion of residents on their sense of security, to gather information on similar projects at the national level and to collect safety data together with project partners.
The project group will take into account all types of threats and problems the citizens face (juvenile delinquency, robberies, inappropriate design of public spaces, etc.).
The first introductory project meeting will be held in June 2014 in Gdańsk. Its purpose will be among others: to define goals, objectives and tasks of main stage project and to establish a macro-regional forum of exchange of knowledge and experiences with initiatives that encourage citizens to participate in safety. In the autumn 2014 the second meeting with project partners is planned in Liepāja (Latvia) where the group will discuss functionality of the project, its objectives, tasks and results.
Project “Building urban safety through citizens participation (Citizens for Safety)“ is co-financed by the European Union.
President Andersen expressed an opinion that both reports of the Commission on Local Safety were very instructive.
9. Task Force on youth employment and well-being, information on latest activities.
Matti Mäkelä, chair of the UBC Task Force on youth employment and well-being, informed the Board about its latest activities.
Task Force on youth employment and well-being shall work until the next General Conference in Gdynia in 2015. Its work is based on the UBC General Conference in Mariehamn resolution establishing an international Task Force on youth employment and well-being. The resolution is attached.
At the 1st Task Force meeting held in Tampere on 17 March 2014, the TF worked in three groups with the following themes:
- regional goals
- task force themes (youth guarantee, youth unemployment etc.)
- transfer of innovations
The TF members discussed the results and possible further steps.
Participants decided that UBC cities involved in the TF work will provide an overview on challenges, good practices and innovations/new ideas in their cities/regions on following themes, which are based on the original UBC Programme to Promote Youth Employment and Well-being presented at the General Conference in Mariehamn, in October 2013:
- guidance and support
- flexible educational paths
- cooperation between different actors
- taking special groups into account
- other services that prevent social exclusion
Cities can pick 1-6 of these themes based on their challenges and special interests. Also, they can present, for example, good practices in one theme and challenges in other. Moreover, all participating cities can introduce in their overview a project or development work they are especially proud of.
President Andersen informed that the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities will have a meeting on 11-12 June 2014 where the topic on Youth will be also discussed. Conference title is "Promoting active citizenship and engagement of young people". President Andersen had sent there an example from UBC, but till the time of Board meeting he hadn't received any reply.
Matti Mäkelä informed about the plans for the meeting to be held on the same day, with theme "Learn and share". At the meeting the good practices of the cities would be presented as well as challenges which do not have good solutions yet. Plans for the future would be also debated. In June the task force made a pdf publication with overviews and future plans. The document is attached.
President Andersen suggested that the task force should distribute the reports from the meetings to the UBC member cities to popularise this topic and to get new suggestions from the cities. Cities could also contact the local employers.
10. Consolidation process of the UBC Commissions.
The 67th UBC Executive Board Meeting held in Kiel on 20 June 2013 discussed the question of consolidation of the Commissions in order to improve the efficiency of the UBC work according to the decision at the General Conference in Kristiansand. Following the Board’s decision, its members sent their proposals to the Secretariat by 1 July 2013. Then the Commissions received the proposals for consultations. Several Commissions responded.
The General Conference in Mariehamn, 2-3 October 2013, mandated the Executive Board of UBC to actively continue dialogue on the structure and content of the UBC Commissions and obliged the Executive Board to reach a decision on the issue during the year 2014, so that starting from 1.1. 2015 the UBC shall have between five to seven Commissions which start to be operative from that date. The old Commission structure ceases to be in force on the same date.
The Commissions’ leaders were invited to the 69th Board meeting in Tampere to discuss how to improve the structure of the commissions. Potential mergers of the Commissions shall improve their effectiveness and thus make their work more relevant to the UBC cities. The discussion revealed various points of view on the contents of the future commissions.
The Board decided to establish a task force to propose the new division of commissions at the Board meeting in autumn 2014. The Board authorized the Presidium to appoint the task force members.
The Presidium appointed small and operative task force consisting of:
Heiki Hansen, City of Elva
Lukas Wedemeyer, City of Kristiansand
Soeren Revsbaek, City of Naestved
Mikko Lohikoski, City of Turku, as chair
Paweł Żaboklicki, authorised ex officio to follow the work
The Commissions are to be consulted by the TF during the working process.
President Per Bødker Andersen suggested that the cities and commissions should be asked for additional comments and send them by 15 September.
The Task Force should prepare its proposal by 15 October, two weeks before the next UBC Executive Board meeting. The proposal should be sent not only to the Board members, but also to all cities.
Anders Franzén, City of Vaxjö, stressed it is important to find the right solution in consolidation of the commissions, in which they must find interest and will. That means that there could be e.g. 8 commissions, and not 5-7 as earlier suggested.
Mikko Lohikoski answered that the task force would take everything into account. The task force will start its work in June. Except for contacts by mails and phones, there is planned one or two physical meetings.
11. New Baltic Sea Region programme 2014-2020.
As part of the European Union´s new funding period (2014-2020), the Baltic Sea Region programme is being currently finalized. The public consultation on the Draft Version has been opened till 28 March 2014.
The Baltic Sea Region Programme covers eleven countries, eight of them EU Member States and three partner countries (Belarus, Norway, Russia). The Programme has been interlinked with the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and also, where applicable, the Russian North-West Strategy.
As UBC Member cities are key stakeholders in the Baltic Sea cooperation, and as the Baltic Sea Region Programme is central for funding of our future projects, it was of importance that the UBC and its Member Cities send their comments concerning the Draft Version
The President encouraged member cities to:
- send their own comments on the Draft Programme to the authorities concerned; and
- send their comments and views to the Secretariat
UBC submitted its comments to the Programme authorities through the attached statement.
12. Information on BSR Urban Forum for Smart Cities project (BUF) – update.
Hannes Astok, Smart City Lab, Tartu and Björn Grönholm, Commission on Environment, presented latest information on Baltic Urban Forum for Smart Cities project.
As the cities are playing a crucial role in the Baltic Sea Region development, UBC Board has, together with the Baltic Development Forum (BDF), Smart City Lab in Tartu and City of Turku taken the initiative to prepare a concept for a “Baltic Sea Region Urban Forum for Smart Cities”.
For this, the project received approval and financial support by the Seed Money Facility of the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
Baltic Urban Forum concept was launched at the UBC General Conference in Mariehamn and ideas as well as initial concepts were discussed in the initiative group workshop on 19-20 January 2014 in Tartu, Estonia.
The project seeks to enable urban areas in the Baltic Sea Region to move beyond “pockets of smartness” to become genuinely smart, by establishing a regional platform for capacity building and knowledge exchange. Key challenges identified and addressed include: - How to make a green transition towards smart and sustainable societies? - How to boost innovation and cooperation with the private sector? - How to engage citizens to those processes?
The urban forum should be useful for the cities in the region. It will serve as a meeting point and a platform for knowledge exchange for actors from different sectors and from across the region.
BUF will encourage its participants to communicate their needs and interests in relation to the challenges that the cities face. The platform will serve as a systematic tool for bringing together cities and countries that share a common issue with existing knowledge, experience and innovations, thereby creating dialogue on consensus-based or ad hoc topics.
Its added value will be involving various stakeholders (cities, experts, researchers, businesses, citizens groups) in active dialogue and solution provision.
In particular, it would facilitate public-private relationships. The urban forum would build capacity of the cities in the BSR in applying the smart city concept by providing access to knowledge, connect them with each other in order to share experiences, and facilitate relationships with the private sector.
The urban forum has the potential to bring benefits on both city level and regional level and could also help sell the Baltic Sea Region as a smart region.
President Andersen reminded, that the idea of Smart Cities was already presented at the last UBC General Conference in Mariehamn.
Mikko Lohikoski pointed out that from the point of view of UBC, the concept of Smart Cities could offer a valuable insight to the members of our commissions. It might be also interesting, on the commission level, to enter dialogue with the companies to develop something new, to help them to find something to identify with. He underlined that we need to be creative ourselves too.
Bo Hjälmefjord, City of Växjö, informed that the city was awarded from the FP7 – SmartCities programme for the project READY – Resource Efficient Cities Implementing Advanced smart City solutions, a 5 year project to start in August 2014. Project will work on energy efficiency in already existing buildings, district heating and electric network. The project has 23 partners, including private sector, academia and municipal housing companies. The cities in the cooperation are Aarhus, Växjö and Kaunas (observer). The project has an overall budget of approximately 34,5 million eur with approximately 19,2 million eur in EU grant. In this project Växjö will renovate some 385 dwellings (built in the 1970s) and undertake actions in district heating system and electric system. The Danish consultant Agency COWI will be the lead partner. Mr Hjälmefjord said that they could share experiences of this program with other UBC cities.
President Andersen underlined that it was one of the good examples. That is the way UBC should urge the commissions to work, because there are quite a lot of funding possibilities. The work has to be done beforehand. It's difficult to get financing if you have no experience, therefore we should help each other to win the competition.
Hannes Astok concluded that one of the roles of the UBC for the future is to assist the cities to be smarter.
More about the Baltic Urban Forum concept development at: http://smartcitylab.eu/buf/
13. Information on the programme of the 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and 16th Baltic Development Forum Summit, Turku, 3-4 June 2014.
Mikko Lohikoski, Strategy Coordinator, made a short overview of the meetings and events taking place during the Turku Baltic Sea Days with the main events 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and 16th Baltic Development Forum Summit.
UBC 1st Vice-President Marie-Louise Rönnmark reminded that at the previous Executive Board meeting in Tampere it was stressed that the role of UBC in the implementation of the EU Strategy should be strengthened. She recommended to consider making a special working group on that issue.
Mikko Lohikoski informed that having this group in Turku for practical reason was too challenging. He proposed to convene such group at one of the next Executive Board meetings. The cities interested in the implementation of the EU Strategy could be invited. The City of Turku together with the Council of the Baltic Sea States secretariat is a coordinator of the Horizontal Action Neighbours with special task to involve Norwegian, Russian and Belarussian stakeholders. Mr Lohikoski underlined that Norwegian UBC members could be active in this task. UBC having Norwegian and Russian members is well placed to play more important role in the future Baltic Sea cooperation.
President Per Bødker Andersen added that the in the light of the Ukrainian crisis there is a green light to develop cooperation with Belarus and reminded that some Polish member cities have already had some contacts. UBC should take up this issue again.
Mikko Lohikoski encouraged all Board members to have contacts with other participants of the Turku events, so that the voice of the Baltic cities is heard.
14. Any other business.
14.1 Proposal from the Baltic Ports Organisation on seminars on small & semi-sized ports.
Baltic Ports Organization is organizing seminars on small & semi-sized ports on 3rd of September in Bornholm, Denmark. These seminars deal with the two types of small and semi-sized ports. First seminar is addressed to small ports focusing on tourism, yachting, fishery. The second one is addressed for semi-sized ports having more commercial profile (cargo handling). In the Baltic region, local governments (cities, town or communes) play usually an ownership role in these type of smaller ports. Therefore, challenges that these ports are facing recently are also challenges for towns and communes in the region. The seminars are associated with the Baltic Ports Conference that is held on 4-5 of September 2014.
BPO invites UBC to co-operate in organizing these seminars. In general term co-operation between UBC and BPO could mean:
- inviting some speakers from UBC network for the seminars;
- participation of representatives of UBC at these seminars;
- promoting of the events via UBC network.
The intention of the seminars is to initiate the projects between these types of ports that should stimulate the exchange of know-how, increase the management skills and thus contribute to the performance of smaller ports in the Baltic.
The Board accepted BPO invitation to be a partner in the conference on small & semi-sized ports.
14.2 New Baltic Cities Bulletin 'Town twinning in the Baltic Sea Region'.
UBC is the biggest organisation grouping local authorities in the region. The potential is even greater if we add all twin cities within the network and in the whole Baltic Sea Region. The majority of the UBC cities have at least two twin towns, many have even several. This makes our organization a far larger network, with an enormous capabilities. But here many questions come up. Is twinning fully exploited? Is it still relevant in the times when short-term cooperation projects seem to be prevailing? Does it bring any direct benefits to the citizens? Do we need formalized ties with other cities at all? Aren’t we a big European and Baltic family yet?
This issue of the Bulletin attempts at addressing all these questions. The cities’ stories present the roots of their international relations and their impact on the local development, evoke the touching moments from the past, provide an outlook on the future prospects.
Moreover, the Bulletin brings the information on latest UBC meetings and activities, news from the member cities and more. Costs of printing and posting ca. 3770 eur.
President Andersen underlined that many UBC cities have twin cooperation also with other UBC members. He recommended that cities should use this platform for cooperation, all the alliances of our members.
14.3 Communication specialist.
President reminded that the Task Force on UBC development recommended to engage the communication specialist to improve communication within UBC. The City of Turku offered co-financing of the staff. President asked the Board for authorising the Presidium to deal with this question and negotiate with Turku. UBC needs to have better communication with the member cities, also cities outside our network. UBC should also be more involved in European network. President underlined that it’s crucial to communicate in the right way and that’s why UBC is looking for expertise.
The Board authorised the Presidium to handle the matter.
15. Next meeting of the Executive Board.
Per Schöldberg, Deputy Mayor of Vaxjö, invited the Executive Board to hold its 71st meeting in Vaxjö on 28-30 October 2014. The Board gladly accepted the invitation.
Per Bødker Andersen Paweł Żaboklicki
Karin Wohlgemuth Anders Franzén
Mentioned above documents are available at:
70th Executive Board meeting, Turku, 2 June 2014
Minutes of the 70th Meeting of the Executive Board