Synergies 2

This year, the EUSBSR Annual Forum was organised as a week-long online event. The main theme of the Forum was green recovery and participants were encouraged to REVITALISE the Strategy, RECOVER after COVID-19 together, and RECHARGE for a greener and more resilient Baltic Sea Region.

In addition to five different plenary sessions, the kick-off event of the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme, and three networking sessions, the Annual Forum offered participants the opportunity to take part in 30 different workshops and a whole day of youth events. The idea of synergies, which was a guiding principle of the Forum, was reflected in the involvement of multi-level institutions, organisations, and actors in the realisation of the various events.

Insights from a wide array of sectors

The Annual Forum workshops explored diverse approaches to green recovery. While many of the workshops were arranged by EUSBSR Policy Areas, others were organised by different stakeholders of the Strategy, such as government authorities, regional organisations, universities, platforms, and projects.

The majority of the workshops addressed sector-specific issues, such as how the cultural sector can help tackle the climate crisis, how innovative ventilation can be energy efficient and health beneficial, and how Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage could be deployed more effectively in the Baltic Sea Region.

Several of the workshops discussed methods for reaching one of the three main goals of the EUSBSR – Save the Sea. The discussions considered different ways to address plastic pollution, nutrient leakage from agriculture, and hazardous objects located in the Baltic Sea.

Another popular topic among the workshops was the future of the maritime sector. In addition to addressing challenges related to the digitalisation and green transition of the maritime sector, the workshops also discussed how the Baltic Sea Region and the Arctic could join efforts to further the development of clean shipping. One of the main challenges identified during the discussions was coordinating investments in vessels using alternative energy sources with investments in the required infrastructure and fuel supply.

Some of the workshops also explored more general and cross-sectoral issues, such as what research can tell us about climate change in the Baltic Sea Region, how stakeholder engagement in the EUSBSR can be enhanced, and what energy efficiency measures are needed to achieve climate goals. The importance of joining Baltic and Arctic forces was also discussed from a more general perspective, with the conclusion that collaboration would benefit both regions and create valuable opportunities for furthering green transition.

clean shipping

Cities furthering Green Recovery

The 2021 Annual Forum paid special attention to the important role cities play in the Baltic Sea Region. Two separate workshops offered platforms for cities to present their actions and achievements and look for partners. The first workshop focused on the role of cities in positive social transformations, while the second workshop highlighted how cities have furthered green recovery.

The workshops showcased a variety of actions taken by cities. The different approaches to green recovery, including adaptation to climate change and transformation through digitalisation. The city of Gdańsk has, for example, chosen to adapt to increased rainfall by building stormwater retention reservoirs, while the Gotland region is aiming to increase the efficiency and reduce the costs of city planning processes through digitalisation.

Combine forces

Recognising the value of the youth

The last day of the EUSBSR Annual Forum 2021 was fully dedicated to the youth. In addition to the closing event discussing the role youth plays in sustainable development, the day featured various presentations and discussions providing young people a platform to express themselves and explore topics that are important to them.

Youth involvement in the decision-making processes was considered insufficient. Although youth has long been very active in expressing their concerns regarding climate change, decision makers have only recently started to listen to them. The presentations highlighted that young people are more open to change and consider the current climate policy to be inadequate. Young people should be involved more not only because they will live with the consequences of current policies, but also because they are potent changemakers. The discussion also considered different ways to increase youth participation.

Apart from the last day, other Annual Forum events also examined youth involvement. While a plenary session explored ways to involve young people more actively in the EUSBSR, workshops discussed topics, such as how children and youth could contribute to safety and security, and how to empower young entrepreneurs. The discussions underlined the value of youth participation and emphasised the need to enable and encourage active involvement of young people in the sustainable development of the Baltic Sea Region.


The 2021 EUSBSR Annual Forum was organised from 27 September to 1 October 2021 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Kaunas City Municipality, Klaipėda City Municipality, and the Union of the Baltic Cities.