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EcoRegion

Newsletter #2

Documentation of the 2nd EcoRegion Conference

Lahti, Finnland, 22. - 25. September 2009

1. Welcome to the city of Lahti 

The host of the 2nd EcoRegion Conference, the director of the Lahti Region Environmental Service Kari Porra, held a welcome speech. He pointed out the city’s objectives for sustainable development, as well as its efforts towards the implementation of the Local Agenda 21.

Objectives for sustainable development in Lahti

  • raise environmental awareness / increase global and national responsibility / increase participation
  • prevent climate change
  • conserve and increase biodiversity
  • increase environmental know-how / increase employment
  • increase residents´ wellbeing

        Lahti Agenda 21 Cooperation 

2. The Maritime Institute in Gdansk joint the EcoRegion project!

The Polish National Energy Conservation Agency (KAPE) withdrew from the EcoRegion project.
The Maritime Institute in Gdansk will take over the energy sector tasks.

3. Progress of project implementation

The project manager André Schnuhr from GTZ gave an overview of the current state of project implementation and concluded that most activities scheduled for the first reporting period were realized.

First reporting period: main results achieved 


WP1
: Progress report, political & internal guidance to project, EcoRegion conference preparation

WP2: Communication plan, EcoRegion corporate design, press releases & articles, EcoRegion flyer, conference documentation

WP3: Kick-off conference, project launch, introduction to sectoral and regional offers & demands on SD measures, workshop on integrated SD managementcycle, launch of steering group, project planning / management update, study tour to Ludwigslust


WP4: input to kick-off conference, action plan for good practice collection decided, selection criteria discussed & decided, first good practices collected, first draft of database

WP6: Review of Baltic 21 Action Programme: Assessment of Baltic 21 Structure and Programme
André Schnuhr pointed out that the participation in the project of the two regional partners, the City of Kaunas and the City of Riga, is still unclear.

4. New mandate of Baltic 21 and implications for the EcoRegion project

Mia Crawford from the Baltic 21 Secretariat presented the new mandate of Baltic 21 and possible implications for the EcoRegion project.
Baltic 21 will, as of January 2010, become an integrated part of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and operate as an expert group.
It will focus on strategic areas of cooperation and support CBSS in its new project-focused approach.
It will foster synergies on sustainable development among CBSS, BASREC, VASAB, NCM, HELCOM, EU and UN.

Four strategic areas of cooperation

  • climate change
  • sustainable consumption and production
  • sustainable, urban and rural development
  • innovation and education for sustainable development
As a result of the new mandate, Baltic 21 will move from a sectoral approach towards a thematic approach. This will be visible in some key activities within the EcoRegion project, such as the development of thematic periodicals, the EcoRegion good practice database and the Baltic 21 Action Plan 2010-2015.

Moreover, the EcoRegion project will serve as a testing ground for new ways of working both cross-sectorally and horizontally, and contribute to closing the project-policy loop.
It will be politically anchored to the CBSS and thus have a direct link to political processes and annual high-level meetings and serve as a model for a more project-focused CBSS. This tie will also contribute to the promotion of results and good practices.

5. Project communication and information

5.1. Basic communication outputs

Angela Schultz-Zehden from sustainable projects (s.Pro) presented the state and progress of project communication and information activities.

EcoRegion Website & further communication tools

As one of the main results, the EcoRegion website was presented, where further communication tools can be found (i.e. logos, templates, flyer, newsletter, project communication plan). 

EcoRegion Communication Plan

The EcoRegion communication plan, which is a formal requirement of the Baltic Sea Region Programme, was jointly developed by all partners and submitted to the Joint Technical Secretariat in July 2009. All partners have to comply with the communication plan as it is now part of the project data form.

5.2. Contribution of project partners to communication

s.Pro will coordinate WP2 activities and counts on the active participation of all partners as contributors and distributors!

EcoRegion Website

Partners agreed that they would contribute to further developing and updating the EcoRegion Website, especially the partner sections. They will thus provide s.Pro with the following information and materials:

  • Information on individual project activities
  • Information on past, present and future regional and sectoral events and meetings (e.g. agendas, minutes, list of participants, registration forms for participants)
  • Photos / partner logos / any kind of other visualizations 
  • Links to sections of their own websites with reference to the EcoRegion project / Local Agenda 21 / Baltic 21, and other links of relevance to the EcoRegion website
  • It was suggested that there could also be partner sections in national languages, in which case partners would have to provide the text translations.
Each partner will send this information in the format deemed most appropriate (no template).
s.Pro will be happy to receive this info
any time!

Partners further agreed on: 

Articles

  • To contact s.Pro in case of interest in writing / publishing articles in existing partner network newsletters. s.Pro will provide support and coordinate such activities.

Individual communication activities

  • To share their individual communication activities (i.e. materials produced, events held or attended, minutes and lists of participants for such events) with s.Pro.

 EcoRegion flyer

  • To provide translation of the EcoRegion flyer in the event of interest in a national version (according to the communication plan: Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Norwegian).

 EcoRegion Newsletters

  • To contribute to the EcoRegion Newsletter #3 by sending information on individual project activities implemented thus far. The newsletter #3 will be published in January 2010 as as preparation for the Växjö conference. 
s.Pro will prepare a template for contributions. The deadline for sending this information was set to
15th December 2009.

6. Regional sustainability management

6.1. Training concept for integrated sustainability management systems

Stefan Kuhn from ICLEI Europe presented the training concept that will guide regional partners to establish integrated sustainability management systems.
Key elements of the training include:
  • usage of the Aalborg Commitments as a reference framework,
  • linkage of regional activities to a sustainability strategy which can be monitored and improved based on sustainability indicators,
  • consideration of the partners’ different starting points in terms of existing structures and expertise

6.2. Regional Workshops: Elaboration of Aalborg Commitment Baseline Review

In two workshops, regions developed individual "work plans" to define the cornerstones for elaborating their Baseline Review.  This was achieved by answering the following questions: 

Work Plan for the Baseline Review

What has been your main ambition to expand from the current status?
Kronoberg/Växjö (SE): To integrate all sustainability dimensions, beyond environment.

What main barriers have you identified that need to be addressed in your region in order to move towards your ambition?
Petrozavodsk (RU): A lack of public awareness of Sustainable Development issues.

What main purposes should the Baseline Review serve in your region?
Tallinn (EE): To set measurable targets in prioritised Aalborg Commitments themes.

Which existing elements of Baseline Reviewing can you build upon in your region?
Lahti (FI): Extensive reporting from several sources connected to many Sustainable Development themes.

Which other elements need to be developed?
Region Zealand (DK): Refining our yearly status reports.

What kind of support would be most useful to receive from ICLEI during the next 6 months?
County of Ludwigslust (DE): Moderated kick-off event with relevant stakeholders, decision-makers, etc, and continuous further coaching.

7. Sector Workshop #1: EcoRegion good practice database

Angela Schultz-Zehden presented the EcoRegion good practice database as well as good practice descriptions, followed by a discussion on possible improvements and further developments.

7.1. Improvement & further development of good practice database

Access to good practice database

The database will be available for internal use until the next EcoRegion Conference in Växjö. Therefore, access to the database (for both viewing and submitting good practices) will be provided via the internal section only.

All project partners will receive a password to submit good practice examples.

From now on, sectoral and regional partners will use the database to submit good practices. Since until now regions were not involved in the process of good practice collection / database development, they now have the chance to work with the database and provide their input and comments.

Good practice descriptions

Good practice descriptions will be limited to one page.

The sectors that focused on project descriptions rather than good practice descriptions will revise their submissions and extract and further describe the practice(s) applied.

The heading “Costs of implementation” will remain part of the good practice description, intended as a rough estimation of costs.

The heading “Transferability” will remain part of the good practice description, indicating how easy/difficult transfer is considered to be and who should implement the practice.

Search criteria

The search criterion “Aalborg Commitments” will remain part of the database for the current time, but s.Pro and ICLEI will provide assistance filling out this section. At the Växjö Conference, regional and sectoral partners will further discuss this topic and determine whether to keep the criterion or not.

The search criterion “Baltic 21 sectors” will be substituted by “Sectors involved”

The search criterion “Ecosystems” will be substituted by “Environment types”; sub-criteria will be “Agriculture”, “Forest”, “Costal”, “Marine”, “Freshwater”, “Wetlands”, “Mountain”, “Urban”, and “Others”.

In addition to the countries already listed in the database, the following countries will be added: Belarus, Iceland, and Ukraine. A final decision on this issue will be made by the Steering Committee. If additional countries are involved in the practice, they should be mentioned under the heading “Transferability”.

Quality assurance

a) The sectoral partners will ensure quality of good practices collected.

b) s.Pro will review all good practices submitted or modified before upload for public view. The review includes consultation with the sector(s) involved with or relevant to the specific good practice.
In addition the following suggestions for improvement were made. 
s.Pro will check in the coming days / weeks whether this is technically / financially possible. 

Suggestions

  • Availability of a keyword list as search criteria
  • Possibility to find good practices within the database via Google search
  • Availability of Google map in good practices descriptions

7.2. Process for gathering good practices

Sectoral partners detailed the process undertaken for gathering good practices, in an effort to collect 25 good practices by May 2010:

Forest sector

organised a workshop with participants from different countries, thereby collecting approximately 30 good practices. It will have a full-time student working on the good practice collection and was very positive about collection of further practices, as it can rely on a strong international network.

Tourism sector

organised a workshop on good practice collection with the participation of its network members. Until now there has only been low feedback from the workshop participants.

Education sector

gathered good practices by consulting already existing databases (e.g. www.miljolare.no) and via direct contacts with schools and educational institutions. In the future it will strengthen the link to the network of the education sector.

Energy sector

is gathering good practices by directly visiting the practitioners and contacting energy projects.

Agriculture sector

will collect good practices during the process of development of its handbook on sustainable phosphorus, which is one of the main sustainability issues in the BSR.

Industry sector

will contact Swedish authorities and consult the Baltic 21 industry sector and its network.

Transport sector

will take the ELTIS database as a basis for good practice collection (www.eltis.org).

Spatial Planning sector

Discussion on process is still open.

8. Sector Workshop #2: Thematic periodicals

Sectoral partners discussed and decided on the drafting and publication of EcoRegion thematic periodicals.

8.1. First issue of thematic periodicals to be published end 2009!

The first thematic periodical will be produced under the responsibility of the tourism sector. This first issue is already in the drafting process and will be published by December 2009. It will refer to the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and focus on tourism related flagship projects, as well as ongoing tourism related projects and activities. Its main aim will be the promotion of sustainable tourism among tourism stakeholders. Betina Meliss, from the tourism sector, gave a short introduction on the planned periodical, its themes and authors. Regions were invited to contribute articles.

8.2. Concept for thematic periodicals

Cornerstones

  • The title “thematic periodicals” will be changed. Possible titles are "review" or "perspectives"; decision will be made by PSC
  • Periodicals should reman interesting for a long period of time (no “news") and should focus on contents rather than promotion
  • Periodicals consist of a collection of articles written by different authors (clearly named)
  • Periodicals have a clear link to Baltic 21 / EcoRegion
  • Quality is assured by the Project Steering Committee (PSC)
  • Periodicals are provided with the Baltic 21 ISBN number
  • There should be a standardised layout for all issues (adapted to sector needs)
  • Sectoral partners are responsible for coordination of activities for development of their periodical. S.pro assists with layout and editing.

Approaches

Partners might have different approaches when developing the periodical.

Content and publication date might be driven by one specific event / policy issue / theme.
  • The first periodical is clearly linked to a specific policy issue: the launch of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and its flagship projects.
  • Baltic 21 Secretariat suggested that one periodical could be published within the decision making process of CBSS / Baltic 21 on the 4 strategic areas of cooperation. It would serve as a preparatory document for the review session, which would then feed into the policy session.
  • Partners could also develop the periodical around a sector-relevant theme and insert the related strategic areas of cooperation.

Structure / topic

The structure of the periodicals can vary, but should always include reference to:
  • EU policy level
  • BSR policy level
  • Baltic 21 (e.g. 4 strategic areas of cooperation)
  • Regional and local level (policy and application)
  • Sectors (not only the sector of the coordinator, but others as well)

The topic should have relevance to EcoRegion, but does not need to be purely sectoral; it can be only one aspect of a sector (i.e. landscape planning, low emission zones) and / or cross-sectoral (climate change).

Process

Sectoral partners decided on the process for the development of the EcoRegion periodicals.

The following steps were agreed upon:
  1. One person responsible for the coordination of activities is appointed
  2. The coordinator gives motives / occasion for publication, defines target groups, chooses topics and subtopics, identifies possible authors for each topic (especially those coming form outside the project), identifies means of distribution, sets the publication timeframe and the number of copies.
  3. s.Pro collects all this information and forwards it to the PSC
  4. PSC gives approval
  5. Authors from within the EcoRegion partnership are approached via s.Pro / coordinator approaches other authors
  6. Coordinator collects articles
  7. Coordinator together with s.Pro does editing / layout / printing
  8. Distribution via coordinator and project partners. If possible professional distribution via suited mailing lists

Budget

Several partners pointed out that they are interested in producing a thematic periodical, but that they have not budgeted the work so far.

Partners were assured that the costs for layout and printing would be covered by BMU / s.Pro.
 
For the work / budget related to the role of coordinator, Angela Schultz-Zehden suggested that all partners should look back in their budgets and think of how to combine "good practices", "periodicals" and some "policy" work within their budgets. Partners shall discuss this issue with the project management / GTZ.
 

Confirmation of interest 

As a result of the discussion, the following participants confirmed their interest in producing/publishing an EcoRegion periodical and coordinating the activity:
Betina Meliss (Tourism), Jacek Zaucha (Spatial Planning), Mia Crawford (Baltic 21 / Climate Change) and Lars Anderson & Simon Jonnegard (Landscape perspective).
All other sectoral partners were invited to act as coordinators / publish a periodical, but will only make decision after reviewing their budgets. 
Final decision on responsibilities, target groups, topics and subtopics, authors, distribution, timeframe of publication and number of publications is expected at the beginning of November.
To this purpose s.Pro will send around a questionnaire.

9. Cooperation meeting of BLA21F and EcoRegion

The cooperation meeting of Baltic Local Agenda 21 Forum (BLA21F) and EcoRegion was lead by Kari Porra from the city of Lahti and Bjarne Rasmussen from the region Zealand.
The meeting was intended to promote cooperation and exchange between these two initiatives, which are both dedicated to sustainable development and which aim to strengthen Local Agenda 21 processes in the BSR.
Kari Porra presented BLA21F and underlined the importance of networking to pursue sustainable development on a local level. He pointed out the current decrease of support and participation, although joint activities and projects are ongoing and new members are welcome to join.
As one of the active members of the BLA21F, the Estonian NGO Emieco, represented by Anne Randmer, presented its mission and activities in the field of sustainable development.

Local Agenda 21 Forum 

Key issues

Local Agend 21 / Region Zealand

Bjarne Rasmussen explained how Local Agenda 21 efforts could be further strengthened, taking example from region Zealand.
The region established a Local Agenda 21 process by introducing cyclical management based on development, decision-making, implementation and evaluation, and by defining 9 fields of action. 
Important achievements:
  • Regional Climate Strategy 2009
  • capacity building programme on sustainable destination development
  • efforts in the field of youth democracy and culture
Challenges:
  • need for citizen involvement policies
  • innovation generation for sustainable development in the business sector
As a final activity, all partners participated in a joint story telling exercise, to exchange experiences in the field local sustainability.

10. Field trip to Hollola municipality

The EcoRegion study tour took all partners to the neighbouring municipality of Hollola. 
The highlight of the field trip was a joint workshop, where partners were introduced to the green drama method. The workshop and method used gave all participants the chance to develop and express common visions for local sustainability.

 11. 3rd EcoRegion Conference in Växjö in January 2010!

The conference participants discussed the dates for the upcoming partner conferences in Växjö / Sweden (January 2010) and in Zealand / Denmark (May/June 2010). Decision will be made in the coming days.