Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue

The Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue brings together youth from across the region, who are interested in Baltic Sea Region politics, society and history of regional cooperation, and are curious to know each other’s cultures, as well as explore their shared identity.

About BSYD

The Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue (BSYD) is an event for young people interested and engaged in Baltic Sea Region affairs, politics, developments, communities, people and more. It fosters cross-border communication and intercultural understanding among other historical, political and societal issues of common concern. The project aims to bring international cooperation and dialogue about intercultural, peer dialogue on regional and identity-building topics. 

Therefore, every year, the CBSS gathers young, bright and inventive people from the Baltic Sea Region to discuss what the Baltic Sea Region means to them and which issues are relevant to the region. This results in some brilliant ideas, lots of food for thought and, inevitably, friendships.

History

The Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue started in 2014 and was carried out for the first two years as a joint programme of the CBSS and Körber Foundation Germany. Together, they gathered young Europeans from their respective networks, who were interested in the history of the Baltic Sea Region. Organising programmes in border areas of the region, the young participants got to know each other’s cultures in order to reflect, discuss and explore their shared identity.

Since then, the event has taken place in several of the CBSS member states, such as Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland and Russia*.

BSYD previous editions

The first Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue took place from 10 - 17 September 2014 when 25 young Europeans from 10 countries of the Baltic Sea region met in Tallinn, Narva and Ivangorod. The lead project partners were CBSS and the Körber Foundation. During the first edition of BSYD the young participants discussed and explored the history and future of borders and identities. Tallinn and especially the twin cities of Narva in Estonia and Ivangorod in the Russian Federation set the scene for their venture. In addition to workshops and roundtable discussions on history and identity the participants also worked on an Instagram exhibition of the event titled “Balticeye” (#balticeye). The exhibition, which opened on 1 October 2014, documents the participants’ views on their generation, shared past, life on borders and identities. The exhibition can be viewed via link www.balticeye.net.
The second edition of Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue took place from 2 - 9 September 2015 when the Polish city of Olsztyn welcomed fifty young Europeans from 19 countries. The topic of the youth dialogue was “Homeland reconsidered – new loyalties and redefined identities in Europe”. The Hamburg-based Körber Foundation and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) continued the cooperation that was successfully started with the already mentioned first edition for the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue.
In 2016, the project Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue consisted of three separate parts: Solidarity Academy-Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue 2016, a concert of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic orchestra in Gdansk and the Bridge it! -programme.

The main part of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue 2016 was from 13 – 20 November 2016, 16 young aspiring journalists from the Baltic Sea Region and beyond met in Gdansk at the European Solidarity Centre for the Solidarity Academy – Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue. During the project the students from Belarus, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Ukraine, already working as freelance journalists in their home countries or abroad, were invited to deepen and share their knowledge during the workshops in Gdansk and Kaliningrad. In connection to this, an evaluation seminar and a panel discussion on the project were held at the ‘Felleshus’ of the Nordic Embassies in Berlin on 28 March 2017. During the evaluation seminar, the individual development, the people-to-people contacts, and emerging networks were pointed out as significant results by all the facilitators. To broaden one’s own horizons and having a chance to actively engage in artistic and social discourse was stressed as one of the most important achievements of the project by all the project participants.

One of the results of BSYD 2016 was a publication “Meanwhile in the Baltics” – which is a collection of stories from the participants of Solidarity Academy – Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue 2016 can be accessed here.
The Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue 2017 was run by the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat in partnership with the Aleksanteri Institute (University of Helsinki), and NORDEN Association St. Petersburg. The project took place on 20-26 November and for that, the CBSS invited 15 young teachers from the Baltic Sea Region and beyond (Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the Russian Federation; Belarus and Italy) to Finland and Russia. The project was very well received by the participants. One of the main highlights of the project was the CSO meeting simulation, where the participants took the roles of a Senior Officials to solve a hypothetical issue arising in the BSR via multilateral diplomacy, which will be repeated in this year’s edition, too, but with another focus.
In 2018 young people from the Baltic Sea Region gathered at Akademiezentrum Sankelmark (Oeversee, Germany) for the 5th edition of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue to explore identities and to discuss questions on borders and culture, cooperation, minorities and more. During these days they got to know the Council of the Baltic Sea States and its work and increased their knowledge of and participation in the decision-making processes in our region.

How do people live along national borders? How do they deal with ethnic minorities and immigrants? What is identity and is there regional identity of the Baltic Sea Region? 23 participants met in the Danish-German border region of Sønderjylland-Schleswig, an interesting example of co-existence and cooperation, and learned about the German minority in Denmark and the Danish one in Germany. During lectures and interactive group work they also discussed the Roma and Frisian minority, migration issues in the region, the experience of the region Sønderjylland -Schleswig and the work and cultural policies of the European Union. In a workshop regarding migration issues in the region participants developed their own policy recommendations. At the traditional part of the Youth Dialogue, the simulation game “Be a CBSS official for one day”, the participants discussed the Vision Group Report and future development of the CBSS at a simulated meeting of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials (CSO).
The 2019 edition was designed in a creative workshop format under the umbrella of the EUSTORY Next Generation Summit “Winds of Change – Transitions in Europe” organized by the Körber Foundation taking place in Berlin, Germany on October 15-19, 2019. The CBSS has cooperated with the Körber Foundation in previous Baltic Sea Youth Dialogues (2014 and 2015), so cooperation was refreshed for the 2019 event. As the Körber Foundation had already started developing the format of the 2019 EUSTORY Summit, the idea was born to integrate the BSYD into this framework.

The BSYD under the heading “Getting Glocal – the Baltic Sea Region since 1989” was to deal with the past 30 years which also mark the starting point for the early years of Baltic Sea region-building after 1989. The fall of the Soviet Union and the following re-emergence of independent nation states was accompanied by tension, rivalry and struggles for regional hegemony in the region. At the same time, transitions opened the way for new forms of cooperation connecting the regions and countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.

The EUStory summit focused on transformation and transition having taken place during the past 30 years in Europe. A five-day long programme was implemented which gave an opportunity to 20 young participants from various backgrounds to meet in Berlin, Germany, 30 years after the fall of the wall that separated Europe and the Baltic Sea Region severely. The participants came from Russia, Latvia, Germany, Estonia, Denmark, Poland, Ukraine, Sweden, Finland and Belarus.
The BSYD 2020 was originally planned to take place in Norway, with a focus on the most Northern border region between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

Due to the pandemic, the youth dialogue could not take place physically and the project was changed and adjusted to the situation. It took place as an online competition and award ceremony under the headline “Creating a sustainable future together”. Young people were creatively engaged in thinking about the region and their common future through delivering outputs in the form of posters, essays, children book chapters or project pitches. A jury decided on the winning contributions, and everyone came together for an online award ceremony with speeches, music contributions and introduction of the winners who had the opportunity to tell their peers about their work.

All of the contributions were published in a booklet (“Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue 2020”) as a result and the posters have a chance to be added to the catalogue of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art.

Outputs:
The 2021 BSYD had to be held online once more. However, it combined the momentum of the previous year’s competition and the incredibly important component of interpersonal collaboration and connections across the region: the 2021 edition took form of a cross-country group assignment on the topic “Looking forward, looking back – 30 years of Collaboration in the Baltic Sea Region”, with a motivating, since competitive component. The participants created outputs in smaller groups, based on three lectures (plus activity boxes) that focused on Regional Identity, Safe & Secure Region or Sustainable & Prosperous Region respectively. The outcomes included much from research over project proposals to a board game and social media campaigns, and as another component essays were written. A jury came together to decide on the winning contributions which were awarded with an Interrail ticket at an online award ceremony with contributions from across the region.

Outputs:

In 2022, the event will take place in Hamburg on 21-25 November. This year‘s theme of civil security coincides with recent debates about dumped munitions in the Baltic Sea as well as other relevant security issues in the region. The open call for registration and further information will be available soon on the CBSS website.

Latest outputs

Funder and Partners

The Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue is funded by the German Federal Foreign office in collaboration with the German Embassy in Stockholm. 

CBSS organises the dialogue each year and implements it individually or in cooperation with a varying partner organisation from the region.

Contacts

Franziska Seufert, CBSS Project Coordinator, [email protected]

Aline Mayr, CBSS Project Coordinator for Regional Identity, [email protected]


* Russia was suspended from the CBSS in March 2022 and withdrew from the Council on 17 May 2022.