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Newsletter #7

Documentation of the 5th EcoRegion Conference

Tallinn, Estonia, 28. - 30. September 2010

1. Welcome to Tallinn - Cultural City 2011

The Deputy Mayor welcomed the EcoRegion partners to the city of Tallinn, which was chosen to be Culture Capital of Europe 2011.
Partners were informed on ongoing and planned initiatives for city development, especially on the city opening towards the sea and the quality improvement  of public spaces.
Thereafter the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) was presented with main targets for 2020. The SEAP aims at reducing CO2 emissions and increasing usage of renewable energy sources e.g. biofuel for transport and wood pellets for heating.

2. Regional sustainable development measures

Regional partners gave short presentations on the sustainable development measures that they already implemented or are planning to implement within the EcoRegion project. Discussion focused on linkages between these measures and the Integrated Sustainability Management Cycle.
Zealand is planning sustainable development measures in the field of sustainable business development, participatory approaches and sustainable tourism / destinations. 
Lahti finalized a study for the management and development of Ridge Salpausselkä with a focus on possibilities for developing a biosphere reserve in the area - working together with the forest sector.
Darss will focus on the development of a local transport plan. It will also develop a guidebook on environmental education for the „Darsser Arche“ National Park Information Center. 
Soltau is working on an integrated SD strategy in forestry – agriculture – water supply.
Akershus developed the regional climate and energy plan and is now working on the definition of region specific indicators.
Kaunas will promote eco-transport by restoring the city's funicular as part of the city's transport plan.
Riga will develop the concept for the Riga Environmental Programme 2011 - 2018 and the city will take concrete action for promoting environmental awareness. 
The regional climate strategy was approved by the regional council, the internal SD strategy was approved by the county board and a set of SD indicators was developed. 
Växjö updated the environmental program and developed a guide book for sustainable production and consumption. The city is also working on the "Climate clever and energy efficient city centre" as well as on the integration of the environmental programme and the programme for human diversity.
Ludwigslust presented the results of the renewed social analysis of the county administrative district. It is currently developing a management plan for the rehabilitation of the river Rögnitz. It is also investigating energy consumption patterns in order to promote behavioural changes.

3. EcoRegion sectors: further activities

3.1. Good practice collection

Sectors will still work on the good practice collection in order to reach at least the target of 25 practices per sector and improve the practices’ quality. Generally sectors are not interested in gathering more that the agreed 25 practices per sector and will rather focus on other activities.

3.2. Policy work / project development 

Besides the promotion of policy messages at upcoming events (see below), most sectors will continue with project development activities:
  • Transport & Energy join forces to develop a project on energy and transport.
  • Education carries out project developments, however, the focus has not yet been decided.
  • Forest continues policy development on landscape perspective using both the model forest concept and biosphere reserve concept; new project developments with focus on forest and water. 
  • Tourism would like to see an assessment be done about what have been the policy input of BSR projects so far and based on this take forward concrete new project ideas relevant to the tourism issues. The Tourism Sector may possibly join the forest and water project currently being developed by the Forest Sector.

4. Upcoming events for the promotion of the EcoRegion database and policy messages

  • Transport: Nordic Conference, EU transport fair, Expo on EU funding (October 2010, Sweden), Transport Conference (2011, Denmark), US Conference (January 2012), 19th UNCSD
  • Forest: Forest Network meetings on both the Baltic Landscape project (in conjunction with the Biosphere reserve conference) and creation of a Forest & Water network (spring 2011), Solution conference (Jan-Feb 2011)
  • Agriculture: Annual symposia, seminars, Agriculture task force meetings
  • Energy: events linked to the Polish presidency
  • Industry: various conferences, workshops and seminars; conference on environmental manage
  • Education: Would like to see that a education ministers' meetings is being held towards the end of the UN Decade on ESD; Education Sector meeting in the spring of 2011.
  • Tourism: Joint BTC & AGORA 2.0 Meeting in Minsk / Belarus, 7.-9.10.2010; BSSSC Conference 2010 in Tallinn / Estonia, 12-14.10.2010; BaltMetPromo Policy Round Table in Tallinn / Estonia 14.10.2010; 3rd Baltic Sea Tourism Forum in Kaliningrad / Russia, 4.-5.11.2010; Baltic Sea Region Programme Conference 2010 "The power of the Baltic Sea macro-region" in Jyväskylä / Finland, 30.11.-1.12.2010.
  • Spatial Planning: VASAB conference and EU Ministerial meeting in May 2011.

Further general events:
  • Joint policy input to 1st Annual Forum on the EU BSR Strategy, 13 – 14 Oct 2010
  • BSR programme conference, 30 Nov – 1 Dec 2010
  • Nordic Conference on SD in BSR, 31 Jan – 2 Feb
  • Regional preperations for Rio+20
Sectors are invited to: 
- Specify these events
- Add other events

5. EcoRegion findings (individual & joint sessions)

All partners will contribute to the publication of a brochure on conclusions to be drawn from the EcoRegion project. The publication will be coordinated by the BMU (tendering process is on-going) and is planned to be presented at the project final conference in November 2011. Partners discussed possible contents and agreed that the brochure shall include:

A) a description of partner activities in the EcoRegion project (sectoral good practice collection, regional SD measures, trainings on integrated sustainability management cycle, CBSS / Baltic 21 Background studies, etc.)

B) EcoRegion findings

Partners discussed possible contents of EcoRegion findings and came to the conclusion that the publication shall include:

1) policy messages / challenges and opportunities for sector-regional cooperation in the areas of
  • Access and Mobility
  • Renewable / sustainable energy systems
  • Food system (agriculture & lifestyles)
  • Culture, democracy, youth
  • Sustainable tourism
  • Integrated management of natural resources (biosphere / water network)
Overriding themes:
  • globalization
  • demographic change
  • climate change
  • education

2) amendments of Aalborg Commitments:
  • Especially Växjö, Tallinn, Riga, Lahti would like to work on this issue and share their knowledge for the development of policy recommendations
  • Amendments shall be elaborated to further develop the Commitments in view of meeting the needs of both urban and rural areas (it is planned that ICLEI will be contracted to support this process)
Further process for developing EcoRegion findings

On each of the themes for policy messages a focus group was established. Composition of focus groups:
  • Access and Mobility: BMU, Education, Transport, Riga, Kaunas, Ludwigslust, Akershus, Kronoberg (coordinated by Marie Thynell)
  • Renewable energy: BMU, Energy, Transport, Tallinn, Växjö, Zealand, (coordinated by Andrzej Tonderski)
  • Food system: BMU, CBSS, Agriculture, Energy, Zealand (coordinated by Bjarne Rasmussen)
  • Culture, democracy, youth: Spatial Planning, CBSS, Education, Region Zealand, Soltau/Landwirtschaftskammer Niedersachsen, Transport
  • Sustainable tourism: CBSS, Tourism, Wieck, Zealand, Education, Lahti, Transport (coordinated by Betina Meliss)
  • Integrated management of natural resources: Forest, Soltau/Landwirtschaftskammer Niedersachsen, Lahti, CBSS, Tourism, Energy, Education, Petrozavodsk (coordinated by Sanna Vääriskoski-Kaukanen)

As soon as the contractor for coordinating the development of EcoRegion Findings is identified, a questionnaire will be developed to guide the focus groups' discussions and elaboration of policy recommendations.

In the timeframe until the 6th EcoRegion conference in Norway (May 2011) each of the groups will meet in a 1 day workshop to develop EcoRegion findings.

It was suggested to organize stakeholder events to discuss these topics and whether the final conference shall serve this purpose.

6. EcoRegion database: promotion and future of the database

At the EcoRegion Conference in Denmark (June 2010) a working group was established to discuss the future and promotion of the EcoRegion database. In August 2010, the working group held a telephone conference. Results were now communicated to the project partners.
At the upcoming CBSS meeting in December 2010, Dörte Ratzmann will forward the request to have the good practices approved / acknowledged by the BMU - which will hold the annual presidency of the CBSS 2011-2012.
One of the discussion points of the meeting will also be the maintenance and update of good practices after the project ends and if such tasks can be included in the selection criteria for future Baltic 21 Lighthouse projects. 

s.Pro will produce the final version of the EcoRegion database flyer in December 2010, taking both into consideration comments of partners and the results of the CBSS meeting. Until then, project partners are invited to distribute the draft flyer: s.Pro provides electronic file and project partners print number of copies needed for the present.

Furthermore partners agreed that as part of the final conference in November 2010 in Poland an award will be given to the “best” of the good practices.

7. Region to region session

In the Region to Region session, regional project partners presented lessons learned and gaps encountered:
  • Lahti: development of a biosphere reserve concept, urban-rural cooperation
  • Kronoberg: working efficiently with politicians
  • Ludwigslust: rowing in the same direction, how to explain project outcomes
  • Soltau-Fallingbostel: agriculture is missing
  • Darss: "never expect things to go as planned"
  • Riga: defining responsibilities in the administration
  • Kaunas: "we are moving up"
  • Växjö: practice examples on transport are missing
  • Petrosavodsk: lack of communication among partners on transport plan development
  • Region Zealand: good cooperation with business development centers
They also discussed the themes for upcoming activities:
  • environmental services in protected areas
  • collection of local & regional data in transport
  • integrated approach for rural development
  • young people and attractiveness of rural areas
  • city forests

8. Project progress and reporting & Results of internal EcoRegion evaluation

Tim Mahler presented the progress of project management.
Partners evaluated the project progress half way through its implementation. One of the main results of the internal evaluation was that more efforts should be made to strengthen cooperation between sectors and regions. 

9. 4th ICLEI seminar on implementation and monitoring

ICLEI held the 4th Seminar on Implementation and Monitoring. It was conducted in three modules:
  • Module 1: Integrated Management – Implementation and Monitoring
  • Module 2: Managing the Implementation and Monitoring
  • Module 3: Outlook – The Upcoming Challenges
Also, each region gave an update on regional activities and ICLEI support activties.

10. Study visit

All EcoRegion partners joint a study tour to the new Tallinn Biofuel Cogeneration Heat and Power Plant.

Photos of the 5th EcoRegion Conference & study trip can be found on the EcoRegion Photo Gallery.