UBC works strenuously to implement the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). UBC was one of three coordinators, together with the Swedish Institute and Norden Association representing the Baltic Sea NGO Network, of the HA Capacity.
The task of the Horizontal Action “Capacity” was to increase the project capacity, skills and competence of all stakeholders involved in the Strategy, through the training programs. Many are not accustomed to working internationally, and there are always new people and new generations emerging. The other dimension of the Horizontal Action “Capacity” was to ensure broad participation of local and regional authorities as well as all other stakeholders.
The objectives of HA Capacity were implemented within the project PA EDU / PA TOU / HA CAP – implementing three work programmes 2018 – 2020 (extended until 2021) co-funded from the BSR INTERREG Programme. The project was led by Norden Association in Sweden, UBC was a project partner. The UBC contribution to the project culminated with 7 online workshops for the stakeholders from Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland, run in November-December 2020.
A key factor of success for the EUSBSR is the integrated and coordinated governance of the Baltic Sea region, between sectors of society as well as between regional and local authorities, business, academia, civil society organisations and other stakeholders in the respective countries.
Through active involvement of all potential stakeholders in promoting and implementing the goals of the EUSBSR and its Action Plan the words are translated into action. The UBC, through its Commissions, is also involved in the EUSBSR implementation. The Sustainable Cities Commission, the Safe Cities Commission and the Task Force on Youth Employment and Well-being have been running the EUSBSR flagship projects.
The UBC has been actively participating in the EUSBSR Annual Fora.
In 2021, the UBC together with Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Kaunas City Municipality, KaunasIn and Klaipėda City Municipality, co-organized the 12th EUSBSR Annual Forum on 27 September– 1 October 2021. The Forum was entitled: Revitalise, Recover, Recharge.
11th EUSBSR Annual Forum, 20 October 2020 (online)
The EUSBSR 11th Annual Forum “Our Region, Our Future – Towards a Decade of Innovation and Sustainability” was organised online as a virtual event, broadcasted from Turku, Finland on 20 October 2020. The themes of the Forum were sustainability and innovations. The UBC and its Commissions were co-organizers of several workshops.
Baltic Executive Programme “Unboxing the sandbox”
The Baltic Executive Programme “Unboxing the Sandbox” was a leadership programme designed to help organisations unlock the full potential of transnational cooperation. The programme was initiated and funded by the Swedish Institute as part of its work with EUSBSR Horizontal Action Capacity. Development and recruitment took place together with the Norden Association, the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission and the Union of the Baltic Cities.
The programme targeted the local and regional level in the BSR; in particular senior elected officials (politicians) and the head of administrations (administrators), representing the strategic level of ”owners”, with the position to redesign existing governance structure that has endorsed the ”sandboxing” of transnational cooperation. The “owners” – municipalities and regions – should have a better insight and overview of the projects, as this will give them a bigger influence on the projects and will contribute to the long lasting outcomes.
The programmes was explicitly non-technical in nature, seeking to empower officials and administrators to be more active in the world of projects that was often dominated by project specialists with their own discourse of project terms and acronyms. The problem addressed in this programme was that there were many projects, but only few long-lived results.
During 25 years of Interreg program there were over 25 thousand projects, but not so many long lasting impacts. When projects are working as satellites to their owners (they are in a sandbox, isolated from the main system), they are not part of the daily life of organizations, then the implementation is very difficult to carry out.
A result of this cooperation was that more than 15 UBC members enrolled in the pilot three module programme together with an equal number of representatives from regional bodies in the eight EU-member countries in the BSR. The first module took place in Warsaw (22–24 February 2016), the second in Riga (11–13 April 2016) and the final module took place in Tallinn (13–14 June 2016).