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Newsletter #8

Documentation of the 6th EcoRegion Conference

Asker, Norway, 24-26 May 2011

1. Welcome to Asker 

The Mayor of Asker municipality, Mrs. Lene Conradi, welcomed the EcoRegion partners. Partners were informed on ongoing municipal initiatives, such as the regular meetings of the "Municipal Council for young people" aimed at involvement of youngsters in democratic processes. The Norwegian Centre for Sciences Education and host of the conference presented its activities and current projects. Finally, the Lead Partner gave a brief overview of the project and introduced the upcoming three-day-conference.

2. EcoRegion recommendations

EcoRegion policy recommendations are one of the main outputs of the EcoRegion project. They will be part of the publication “EcoRegion Findings” and they will be promoted at the EcoRegion final conference in Gdynia in November 2011. To develop such policy recommendations, 7 focus groups organized ad hoc meetings for discussion. Results of the meetings were presented and further discussed in plenary. 
Overview of recommendations as result of plenary discussion
It was agreed that recommendations on Aalborg Commitments shall not be presented together with the other six recommendation groups. They will be placed along with the cyclical management chapter. 
As the Eco-Region project is a BSR wide project (the first Eco-region in the world!), the recommendations will focus on the necessary changes in BSR. AND - in addition hereto, a part of the recommendations should also address the (sub) regions.
Results of focus groups
Next steps
  • 30 June = FG Natural Resources prepares recommendations (blueprint)
  • 30 July = Other FG send their recommendations to s.Pro
  • 15 August = Comments / revision 
  • 15 September = Final recommendations ready

3. EcoRegion Findings 

The idea of the final publication "EcoRegion Findings" is to present in a concise way (approx. 5000 characters per partner) the project findings and recommend fields for policy action. The main target group consists of political decision makers, administrations of cities and regions and programme / project experts.
Sectoral and regional partners will be responsible for drafting their "Lessons Learned".
The following partners volunteered for preparing first drafts to be then used as a blueprint for all other partners: Region Zealand, Lahti, Växjö, Agriculture sector and Education sector. 

Next Steps
  • 15 June: Volunteers prepare blueprint 
  • 1 July: s.Pro circulates blueprint
  • 15 July: Partners send s.Pro their "Lessons Learned"
  • 15 July - 15 August: Comments and finalization 
  • 15 August - 15 September: Lay-out

4. Region-2-Region exchange

At the region-to-region session, regions shared “positive stories” related to EcoRegion, e.g. development of a combined transport and land-use strategy (Akershus), improved cooperation of regional institutions and their departments (Kronoberg and Lahti), establishment of energy saving measures in schools (Ludwigslust), development of an Environmental Programme (Riga), improved networking for storm management (Soltau), development of a business plan for the city centre (Växjö), base line analysis of city transportation (Petrozavodsk), a citizen summit on climate, involving more than 300 citizens (Region Zealand).

5. Planning of final EcoRegion conference

The EcoRegion final conference aims to present project results and recommendations to externals. It will take place from 15 - 17 November 2011 in Gdynia. The meeting on 15 November is partner-internal, while the meeting on 16 November is open to the public. It was agreed that the study tour will be open to external participants and that the conference will end with the study tour (by 16:00).

Draft Agenda

Partners agreed on a first draft for the agenda of the 16 November. 
The Agenda is structured into the following sessions: 
1) Introductory session with involvement of an external key-speaker.
2) Two parallel sessions for discussion, led by guiding questions (possibility: What are the challenges to become an EcoRegion? What are the gaps and the solutions for future programmes?) and moderated by externals.
3) Session dedicated to interaction and organized as a "guided walking tour" through 4 areas (area with presentations of nominated good practices, area with presentation of EcoRegion recommendations, area with presentation of Aalborg and SMC, area with presentation of regional measures).
4) Panel session dedicated to presentation of Gdynia Declaration and Award of "EcoRegion best practice".
Next Steps
  • 30. June: opening of registrations
  • All regions and sectors will invite 3-4 guests to the final conference (please use conference announcements)
  • Regional partners are responsible for preparing posters / presentations on measures for "guided walk" at final conference
  • Selected partners shall contact key-speaker and moderators

Note on financial issues
  • The GIZ will clarify with the JTS if sectors and regions can pay for their guests. In such case, guests will also be invited to participate in the study tour, which will be financed by the BMU.
  • Travel and accommodation of moderators and speakers as well as regions with nominated good practices can be covered by the project / project partners.

6. Cyclical Management: Training on Evaluation & general progress of regions

ICLEI trained EcoRegion regions on "evaluation", which is the last step of the Cyclical Sustainability Management System. Based on the experience gained in the project, partners discussed how a new cycle could start.
Also, regional partners presented their achievements with the cyclical management so far: their analysis of the local / regional situation, the targets identified and the measures implemented to reach these targets. 

7. Project management

The GIZ updated project partners on project management issues.

8. Study visit

All partners participated in the study tour held at the conference location in Asker. They visitied Tangen, an old cottage that has been restored and now houses a kindergarten. They also had a walk to Gapahuken, a spot used by families, kindergartens and school classes to spend free time, cook and get in contact with nature.
They had freshly baked bread at Bryggerhuset, a house with an oven, where inhabitants take food courses, have meetings and social events. Last, but not least, partners visited an old greenhouse, a meeting place for those who like to get earth under their fingernails and experience the growing of plants. 
Photos of the 6th EcoRegion Conference & study trip can be found on the EcoRegion Photo Gallery.