UBC seminars in the EUSBSR Strategy Forum raised important issues on youth and cities’ roles in the BSR

The 7th Strategy Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was held in Stockholm on 8–9 November 2016. In the Forum, UBC co-organised two seminars: “Nothing about us without us – youth's contribution to the Baltic Sea Region Vision 2030” and “Cities and Regions: Drivers or Bystanders in the Baltic Sea cooperation”.

Both seminars attracted a large audience and diverse discussions. In addition, UBC representatives took part as speakers and panelists in several other seminars in the EUSBSR Strategy Forum.

Nothing about us without us – youth's contribution to the Baltic Sea Region Vision 2030

The seminar, organized on 8 November, focused on involving in the discussion young people and politicians from local and regional level and so including a bottom up perspective on the Baltic Sea Region Vision 2030.

Overall message from the youth participants was that “all politics is youth politics” – youth shouldn’t be dealt with as something separate but as a natural part of everything we in the cities plan and do.

“Young people are not just an advisory board. Instead, the youth should be – and be allowed to be – more active and concrete in the decisions and actions we take”, emphasized also Maja Wagner, UBC Executive Board Member and Councilor in the City of Gdynia.

The demand for young-led decision-making became clear throughout the seminar. Youth were also encouraged to take a more active role in making initiatives. It was also agreed that the results of development processes should be made visible in the mediums were the youth are present – web and social media – so that the youth can discover their proposals have really been implemented into concrete actions and results.

UBC and partners’ seminar raised the voice of the young people on Baltic Sea Region Vision 2030. Photo: Irene Pendolin

UBC’s expertise on youth issues was also represented in a seminar on entrepreneurship

The good practices on youth employment were disseminated also at the seminar "Is youth social entrepreneurship the solution for sustainable rural areas?" organized on 9 November by Seed Money Facility BYSED project, Companion Kalmar and BS NGO Network. Matti Makela, Chair of the UBC Task Force on Youth Employment and Well-being, was a panelist and shared the outcomes of the TF work.
"Rural areas need a new vision”, he said. “We have to engage the youngsters in our actions, they need to be heard".
How to get their attention? How to make them feel welcome to the rural societies?
"We need to give more support and be more creative”, Makela added. “Using their tools of communication, e.g. social media, might be an option. But also we have to follow the demands of the labour market, e.g. if the technical professions are required, we need to encourage the young people to choose technical studies, we have to make them more attractive.”

Youth panelists and speakers were active in many of the seminars during this year’s EUSBSR Strategy Forum. Photo: Anna Dargiewicz

Cities and Regions: Drivers or Bystanders in the Baltic Sea cooperation

The Cities and Regions seminar, held on 9 November, focused on cities and regions as key players in the Baltic Sea Cooperation.

“City partnerships can provide good ground for reconciliation in difficult political situations in the BSR”, was one of the recommendations made by Professor Kristine Kern from the University of Potsdam and
Assistant Professor Stefan Gänzle from the University of Agder in Kristiansand.  

The panel, consisting of representatives from UBC cities, BSSSC and Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, agreed that the Baltic Sea Region shares the same problems but also solutions and that the wishful thinking and strategies should be transformed to concrete things that we can show e.g. for the youth.

“We react too much and act too little”, summarized John Lauritzen, UBC Executive Board member and Councilor in the City of Naestved.

Competition between the cities in the region was also raised. Are we only interested in our own backyard and defend our own cities’ rights instead of thinking about the whole region? A balance between cooperation and competitiveness should be maintained and focus should be on results, not competition.

Moving from wishful thinking and strategies to concrete actions was one of the topics discussed by the panelists in the seminar on Cities and Regions. Photo: Irene Pendolin