The Baltic Sea region is one of the most interlinked and “governed” international areas in the world. We have a long history of cooperation and many different levels of governance for those cooperation networks dating from the medieval times. There is a large number of different actors working on a variety of issues, most of which cannot be solved without knowing what the others are doing on “their issue”. This is where the EUSBSR steps in. It strives to be an all encompassing network for ALL actors around the Baltic Sea working towards the same goals. The added value of EUSBSR is information exchange and what that leads to. EUSBSR delivers through networks.
There is no coordination without information
From complexity to simplicity
The task of the Policy Area Coordinators and Horizontal Action Coordinators – implementers of the EUSBSR – is to facilitate this exchange of information. This is done by coordination. Coordinators work with different actors in their area, feed them information and bring them together so that their combined efforts would yield the most results. However, this is extremely difficult to do (if not impossible) without good sources of information on what is already going on in the region. As mentioned above, there is a vast amount of different actors and levels of cooperation already going on in the area and some of them were there even before the EUSBSR. How do you know what to coordinate if you don’t know what is going on?
The information which is needed already exists, of course. In fact, it exists in such quantities that you cannot really “see” it. In our society, fixated on numbers and reports, there are many sources to find this information. There are national databases, maintained by ministries, and international ones, maintained by international organizations and everything in between, above and below. The difficulty lies in reaching them and finding what is relevant, and that is not always so easy.
HA Neighbours has been digging around in a variety of databases trying to figure out if one or the other of such databases would work for the EUSBSR. Well, in our opinion none do, that’s why we have begun developing our own simple system for it. Bearing in mind the minimal resources available, we have started this work incrementally and it will built on in the coming months, and even years. For now, we have gathered similar information as the EU funding programmes have in their databases just to give us a starting point.
As mentioned above, there is so much information that it has to be somehow narrowed down and reorganized before we can use it in any meaningful way. A large table of numbers and words resembling some obscure programming language is not useful. It has all the information we need, but we can’t access it. The difficulty lies in finding all that is relevant and presenting it SIMPLY.
Ways to go yet
We are not there yet, but we are on the right track. The clip about our current data gives an idea where we are. There is data, which is not complete yet; there are tools to make it simple and usable, but the relevance factor is still eluding us a bit. We can see who is doing what, but with whom? And that “with whom” is one of the first things we are interested in. Like mentioned before, the EUSBSR delivers through networks. We need to see who is working with whom and also WHY; which organizations are in key positions to ignite and maintain cooperation in a given area – that is what is really relevant. And this is what we are moving towards next.
At the moment, HA Neighbours is utilizing the assistance of the other Policy Areas and Horizontal Actions to collect all relevant information from the the vast network that is the EUSBSR. Next, we can really start to analyse what is going and how to coordinate it better.