Press release: EUSBSR Online Annual Forum gathers international policymakers and experts to discuss the future of the BSR in a virtual event

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) 11th Annual Forum “Our Region, Our Future – Towards a Decade of Innovation and Sustainability” will be organised online as a virtual event, broadcasted from Turku, Finland on 20 October 2020.

The themes of this year’s Forum are sustainability and innovations. The event is free and requires registration at The main organisers of the 11th EUSBSR Annual Forum are the City of Turku and the Council of the Baltic Sea States, in collaboration with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The aim of the Forum is to form innovative constellations to find common approaches, which will contribute to the three objectives of the EUSBSR: Save the Sea, Connect the Region, and Increase Prosperity. 

“Turku has a long history in working to advance cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, especially in the fields of environmental protection and sustainability. We are honoured to host the EUSBSR Annual Forum for the second time – especially in these exceptional circumstances when the Forum this year will be held online from Turku, for the first time. For us this is a sign of trust and appreciation for the persevering work done by Turku,” says Mayor of Turku Minna Arve.

“The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is an important platform for cooperation that prepares many initiatives beneficial to the lives our citizens. With the continued impact by coronavirus, it is more important than ever for the eight participating EU Member States and the four Neighbouring Countries to cooperate and create solutions together. The 11th Annual Forum of the EUSBSR will be a crucial step “Towards a decade of innovation and sustainability” (in line with the theme of the Forum). We are committed to making EUSBSR a continued success – a strategic element in economic development and in promoting growth in the region,” adds European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira.

“The Baltic Sea is not only our common heritage, but also our future. It is our common objective to make our region safe and secure, developing sustainably as well as innovative and inclusive. We should aim for the highest education standards and make science help our endeavours, lead the digital change in the world, and involve youth in all our decision making processes. There is room for all of us, all regional organisations and collaboration formats to contribute to the Strategy. That is also why we proudly co-organise the 2020 EUSBSR Annual Forum. Let’s meet in Turku (at least virtually)!” states CBSS Director General Grzegorz Poznański.

Towards a Decade of Innovation and Sustainability – even during a pandemic

The theme of this year’s Annual Forum is Towards a Decade of Innovation and Sustainability. The main topics of evolve around EUSBSR’s main objectives: Save the Sea, Connect the Region, and Increase Prosperity. Along with the moderators, high-level speakers and panellists lead the conversation, and the audience is invited to take part using interactive tools, for example asking questions, taking part in polls and chatting with other participants. The Mobile Applicationoffers an opportunity to use networking tools, watch the live programme and visit the Virtual Networking Village.  

The first section of the programmewill explore the cooperation for Innovation and Sustainability; in addition, lessons learnt from Corona crisis are explored. Speakers and panellists in the first section are: Ms. Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland, Ms. Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner, Cohesion and Reforms, European Commission (pre-recorded video message), Mr. Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, European Commission (pre-recorded video message), Ms. Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate, Finland, Mr. Tālis Linkaits, Minister for Transport, The Republic of Latvia, Mr. Christos Economou, Acting Director, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission, Ms. Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, Mayor, City of Gdansk, Poland, Ms. Tiina Tuurnala, C.E.O., Finnish Shipowners´ Association, Ms.Madeleine Granvik, Director, Baltic University Programme, Mr. Jonas Faergeman, Chair, #ReGeneration2030 Steering Committee, Ms. Minna Arve, Mayor, City of Turku, Finland, Mr. Grzegorz Poznański, Director General, Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat. 

The second part of the programmefocuses on concrete examples of cooperation within the EUSBSR. Speakers and panellists in the second session are: Mr. Mika Lintilä, Minister of Economic Affairs, Finland (pre-recorded video message), Ms. Krystyna Wróblewska, General Secretary, Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation, Ms. Christiane Mißlbeck-Winberg, Director, EU and International Affairs, Confederation of Danish Employers, Ms. Ülla-Karin Nurm, Director, The Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being, Ms. Aline Mayr, Representative, Baltic Sea Youth Platform, Dr. Andreas Edel, Executive Secretary, Population Europe / Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Berlin, Germany.

The third partconcentrates on the future: what will the EUSBSR cooperation look like in the next 10 years? Speakers and panellists in the third session are: Mr Taavi Aas, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, Estonia(pre-recorded video message), Mr. Normunds Popens, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission, Ms.Helena Tuuri, Ambassador for Baltic Sea Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland, Ms. Susanne Scherrer, Director of the Interreg Managing Authority and the Joint Secretariat, Ms. Ann Irene Sæternes, Head of European Affairs, Eastern Norway County Network, Mr. Risto E. J. Penttilä, C.E.O., Nordic West Office, Ms. Delara Burkhardt, Member of the European Parliament, Mr. Igor Kapyrin, Deputy Director of Department of European Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr. Rüdiger Strempel, Executive Secretary, HELCOM.

The Forum closes with the words from Mr. Pekka Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Finland.

What is the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region?

The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) is the first Macro-regional Strategy in Europe. The Strategy was approved by the European Council in 2009 following a communication from the European Commission. 

The Strategy is an agreement between the Member States of the EU and the European Commission to strengthen cooperation between the countries bordering the Baltic Sea in order to meet the common challenges and to benefit from common opportunities facing the region.

“The Baltic Sea is vitally important to Finnish people and the Strategy has been an excellent tool to enhance regional cooperation in all fields. The Strategy is divided into three objectives representing the three key challenges of the Strategy: saving the sea, connecting the region and increasing prosperity. Each objective relates to a wide range of policies and has an impact on the other objectives,” says Ambassador for Baltic Sea Affairs Helena Tuuri.

More than 200 projects have been carried out within the framework of the Strategy, delivering concrete results for a clean Baltic Sea, tackling climate change, green energy, sustainable transport, and health and well-being, making Baltic Sea region an attractive place to live and work.

Congress city Turku in Finland hosts encounters of international experts 

Turku is one of Finland’s leading congress cities and, in normal circumstances, host to dozens of major international association congresses as well as hundreds of national meetings.

Finland’s newest and most technically advanced event and creative business centre Logomois the leading venue of congresses and large exhibitions, which is now harnessed to host major virtual studio and streaming events as well as hybrid events. It is also the studio of this year’s Online EUSBSR Annual Forum.

Further information about the EUSBSR Annual Forum 2020:

  • Mika Akkanen, Manager of International Affairs, City of Turku: 
    [email protected], +358 50 5590 590
  • Helena Tuuri, Ambassador for Baltic Sea Affairs, Foreign Ministry of Finland:
    [email protected], +358 50 4485 019
  • Andriy Martynenko, Adviser, EUSBSR Policy Area Secure (CBSS): [email protected], +46 70 388 36 50
  • Media contacts: Irene Pendolin, Communications Officer, City of Turku: [email protected], +358 40 848 6242
  • Full programme and registration:

Information about the EUSBSR: