Text: Anja Karppinen, Baltic Sea Strategy Point


The 14th EUSBSR Annual Forum, organized in the City of Riga on 4-5 October, invited participants to celebrate and reinforce multilevel cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. The forum consisted of a series of events, including Policy Area Steering Group meetings, Workshops organised by multiple organisations around the Baltic Sea, the main event with a high-level stage programme, and the ever-so-important possibilities for networking. Close to 600 people from 20 countries had registered for the forum, showing the wide interest and support the Strategy holds in the region and beyond.

The official stage programme focused on three themes: energy, climate, and youth. In addition to these three topics, collaboration with Ukraine was brought up in many of the sessions and discussions. As Commissioner Elisa Ferreira phrased it in her video greeting: “Cooperation with Ukraine is a moral imperative, but it is also a strategic opportunity to broaden the cooperation in and beyond the region”.


You will wind photos from the forum here:
October 4, Workshops
October 4, Dinner reception
October 5, Main event


If you wish to return to the presenations, you will find them here:
Presentations from the workshops on October 4th are available here
Presentation from the sessions on October 5th are available here
Presentations from the pitch stage on October 5th are available here.


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In her statement in the opning session, Almut Möller, State Secretary and Plenipotentiary of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg to the Federation, to the European Union, and for Foreign Affairs highlighted the importance of cities and regions in the Strategy implementation.



Towards green energy solutions

Climate change's impact on the Baltic Sea is a huge challenge, and sustainable energy is critical for economic growth and development everywhere. In the opening session, these interlinked topics were discussed by a high-level panel of two Latvian ministers, Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš and Climate and Energy Minister Kaspars MelnisNormunds Popens, DG REGIO Deputy Director-General, from the EU Commission, Almut Möller, State Secretary and Plenipotentiary of Hamburg and Anatolii Kutsevol, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the Republic of Latvia.


“We have a huge wind energy potential in the Baltic Sea Region. Now it’s on us to use it.” - Krišjānis Kariņš, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia


Wind power was also discussed in depth in one of the parallel sessions later in the programme. Karen Marie Sandgren, Founder and Strategic Advisor, Nordic Energy Connection, Mika Järvinen, Professor at Aalto University, and Gunārs Valdmanis, Head of Department at the Ministry of Climate and Energy in Latvia, mapped the opportunities for regional cooperation.

The consensus was that together we could unleash the potential of the offshore wind. This would require planning common infrastructure in the Baltic Sea Region, taking into account the interests of all eight countries. Involving different stakeholders at a very early stage is important. EUSBSR as the jointly adopted multilevel structure of the eight EU member countries around the Baltic Sea is well-placed to facilitate this discussion.


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Common challenges and opportunities in the Baltic Sea Region and beyond – ways to address them through macro-regional cooperation. Discussion on cross sectoral and multi-level governance approach by Normunds Popens, Anatolii Kutsevol, Almut Möller, Līga Kurevska, Krišjānis Kariņš, moderated by Vineta Kleinberga and Juha Jokela.


The aim is to reduce overlaps and strengthen synergies

Apart from the official programme, EUSBSR Annual Forum is one huge marketplace for networking. The Strategy was built to bring the multiple networks and organisations in the region together, and one of the founding principles behind it is to create a structure that contributes to a better division of labor among existing networks and organizations. By sharing knowledge and co-creating ideas and projects, we reduce overlaps and strengthen synergies.



“Building strong partnerships is already half of the work done. The value lies in the partnerships.” – Inga Ablingienė, Policy Area Transport Coordinator



Having this fundament in mind, it was heartwarming to see that over two-thirds of forum participants listed “networking” as their main expectation for the forum, and to experience the positive buzz in the Networking Village and the evening reception. The realization that we are not to compete with each other but to look for joint solutions is the core of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.


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Forum participants reflecting and networking after the opening session.



The Annual Forum was organised jointly by the Riga City CouncilUnion of the Baltic Cities and VASAB, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and the Baltic Sea Strategy Point, with financial support from Interreg Baltic Sea Region.

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