In March, HA Neighbours attended the International Environmental Forum, “Baltic Sea Day”, in St. Petersburg . In the event, international cooperation and efforts to save the Baltic sea were highlighted, as the poor condition of the sea is one of the greatest challenges in the Baltic Sea region. The wellbeing of the Baltic Sea is also one of the objectives of the EUSBSR. However, not all the countries in the region are members of the European Union. But, cooperation between the countries is still needed, were they EU members or not.

Thus, how could we ensure the cooperation in the region between the EU and non-EU countries, such as Belarus, Iceland, Norway and Russia, and how could we improve the participation of all countries in the BSR?

The core of HA Neighbours project is to find answers to the questions above.

One way to bring stakeholders together are different events, such as the Baltic Sea Day. The results of the HELCOM report on the sustainable development goals indicated that international measures had led to better results compared to mere national measures. This was not a surprise but it was a good reminder for HA Neighbours that international cooperation is important and can always be improved.

Environmental cooperation in the Baltic Sea region is natural and also necessary. One example presented in the Baltic Sea Day was waste water management in St. Petersburg that required great amount of international cooperation to function as it does today.

Environmental cooperation should also continue despite the political tensions in the region. Due to this situation, HA Neighbours has an important role to keep all stakeholders involved and facilitate possibilities to participate, for example by inviting different stakeholders to meetings.

At the moment, HA Neighbours is preparing for the 9th EUSBSR Annual Forum in Tallinn where HA Neighbours will organize together with a German Atene KOM a seminar “Digitalizing and connecting the neighbourhood: solutions for the BSR”. In the seminar, the focus is on the basic conditions of digitalization: what do we need to maximize digitalization and how to ensure that the whole Baltic Sea region benefits from the digitalization, not just some countries. International cooperation and developing digitalization together can offer solutions to even up the development of different countries.

More information about the seminar, and other upcoming events, will be updated on our website and Twitter.

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