Baltic Sea region leaders and experts convene in Turku

Press release 14th May 2014

The wide-ranging programme of the Turku Baltic Sea Days 2014 is complete

Baltic Sea region leaders and experts convene in Turku in June to seek means to grow together

Finland and Turku are, during the first week of June, the focus of the Baltic Sea region’s strategic, economic, and political discussions, as Turku hosts the joint 16th Baltic Development Fo-rum Summit and the 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region 3–4 June 2014. Among the high level speakers is Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen.

Other speakers include Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs Jan Vapaavuori, Finnish Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb, Finnish Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, BDF chairman Lene Espersen, CEO of Siemens Finland Janne Öhman, CEO of Bayer Nordic Oliver Rittgen, Principal Associate of Har-vard Business School Christian Ketels, and Global Chief Economist of Nordea Helge Pedersen.

The joint event is part of the Turku Baltic Sea Days 2014 series of events, and is the biggest conference of the year devoted to Baltic Sea issues in the Baltic Sea region. The event will explore how to improve cooperation within the Baltic Sea region, with the theme “Growing Together – For a prosperous, inclu-sive and connected Baltic Sea Region.” Up to thousand Baltic Sea region experts, high level political decision-makers, and leaders of political and economic life will gather to explore this issue.

For the first time gathered in Turku, alongside the 16th Baltic Development Forum (BDF) and the 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), the XII Baltic Sea NGO Forum will also be held during the same week, in the same city. Additionally, many other conferences and seminars will also be held in Turku, such as the Baltic Sea Forum of Centrum Balticum – a Turku based think tank – and the Baltic Sea Health Summit.

Themes in addition to economic growth are growth zones and cross-border cooperation

The joint BDF Summit and the Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region held in Turku will address growth at a strategic level and in terms of concrete macro regional cooperation. On the first day of the event, 3 June, the following issues, among others, will be discussed: economic development of the Baltic Sea region, focussing on how to facilitate opportunities for the private sector, with perspectives such as maritime and blue growth, smart cities, digital economy and the translation of stra-tegic objectives into concrete action.

– Additionally, keys to growth are being sought through the development of cooperation between young leaders and innovators in the Baltic Sea region. In particular, the City of Turku wants to actively support increased cross-border activities amongst SMEs. Measures that have already been initiated to promote cooperation and trade between businesses will be promoted as a key part of the Northern Growth Zone concept in all fields of operation”, says Mayor of Turku Aleksi Randell.

The chairman of Baltic Development Forum, Lene Espersen is looking forward to the Summit in Turku on how to enhance competitiveness and growth in the Baltic Sea Region. At the Summit BDF will present several reports on regional cooperation. It includes BDF’s annual report in the State of the Region, a report on the Political state of the Region, a report on water management and a report on ICT/digital economy:

– ICT is one of the future key growth drivers in the region. At the Summit/Annual Forum, BDF will launch a new think-tank initiative on ICT and the digital economy. We hope thereby to inspire regional cooperation. We need to focus on jobs and growth in our cooperation and the ICT sector is crucial to all of us. We need to work hard to keep our digital and ICT leadership in Europe and in the world. We would like to present new ideas and recommendations to most influential sector stakeholders in the region. We will focus on cross border possibilities, joint efforts, best practices and joint public-private initiatives in developing the digital economy, says BDF Chairman Lene Espersen.

On the second day of the meeting, 4 June, the following Baltic Sea region themes will be tackled: capitalizing on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, finding possibilities for growth, closer co-operation in water pollution control, life sciences, financing, TEN-T networks, education, culture, research, and innovation.

– The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is bringing together partners in some of the closest cooperation ever seen on our continent. Before the accession of the Baltic states and Poland to the EU just ten years ago, this kind of cooperation which brings together and integrates topics as diverse as the environmental challenges in the Baltic Sea, the completion of missing transport links and cooperation on cutting edge research and innovation would have been more difficult to achieve. Encouraging results are already being achieved. But this ground-breaking macroregion is no longer a pilot project. It is time to discuss how to ensure it is equipped to take decisions on its own future and to operate efficiently in the longer term – which is why one of the big topics at this forum in Turku will be governance. The strategy also needs to combine work to promote growth with the urgent need to improve the state of the environment taking the necessary steps to improve the lives of citizens in this region through concerted action on local, regional, national and European levels. This is what ownership and leadership of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region should mean – I look forward to interesting discussion in Turku on how to make this vision a reality, says European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn.

The Turku Baltic Sea Days’ public programme features a wide variety of events

Turku Baltic Sea Days start on Sunday 1 June at Forum Marinum with the Finnish ArchipelagoSea2014 event. There the whole family can explore the work that is done for the Baltic Sea and water pollution control in an interactive way, for example by visiting the Gulf of Finland Year 2014 exhibition or the research vessel Aranda. On the same day the public can feel the excitement of the very first dinghy race on the River Aura, and enjoy the breezy music of an international wind orchestra festival in Forum Marinum and the courtyard of the Turku Main Library.

“Symbiosis” sculpture by the internationally renowned designer Stefan Lindfors will be unveiled at Fo-rum Marinum on 3 June. Symbiosis is not only an artistic masterpiece but has also a mobilizing function – to collect funds to save the sea and especially the Archipelago Sea. Individuals and organizations can buy a plate carrying their own name and the funds will be used to fund concrete water protection pro-jects.

The Baltic Sea Days will also bring a unique jazz ensemble to Turku: The Baltic Sea Jazz Orchestra will give concerts at Forum Marinum on 1–3 June. The Orchestra has been assembled especially for Turku Baltic Sea Days and consists entirely of top class musicians from the Baltic Sea region. The organiser is the Flame Jazz association, which was founded during City of Turku’s year as European Capital of Culture, and which now brings us musicians from three European Capitals of Culture: Turku, and this year’s Capitals Umeå and Riga.

Other free Baltic Sea related events include the Magic of the Baltic Sea art exhibition at Forum Marrnum, an exhibition at Turku Main Library presenting the history, nature and literature of the Baltic Sea region, and the Fiulbaltica Concert which will bring over 200 children and youths from different Baltic Sea countries to Turku to participate in concerts 1–2 June.

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