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Dialogue with Interreg BSR at the Strategic Forum

27 October, 2020 - 16:10

The XIX Strategic Planning Leaders Forum was moved to the online format and was organized under the theme "Reality 2020 and agenda for the next decade" on 26–27 October 2020. As a part of the Forum, Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme launched a Stakeholder Dialogue looking back on how the cooperation between Russian regions and BSR EU partners started more than 20 years ago and how it has evolved, with the current results and expectations for the upcoming programme period.

The history of Russian partners cooperating within Interreg BSR projects is almost as long as Interreg itself – which is celebrating 30 years anniversary. Today partners from Russia participate in 48 out of 140 Interreg BSR projects. For this session, the Programme invited selected projects (and a certain water platform!) to introduce the main results of their transnational cooperation and approaches to engaging different stakeholders, as well as to discuss potential future cooperation topics.

BSR WATER platform and two of its contributing projects IWAMA and BEST were invited to join the session: all three projects have Russian partners or associated partners involved for better development of the outputs that could suit the whole Baltic Sea Region. Our team, represented by Mariia Andreeva and Agnieszka Ilola (UBC Sustainable Cities Commission), Natalia Bobyleva (SC Mineral) and Olga Sheshukova (ECAT-Kaliningrad), presented the platform, introduced the development of regional recommendations together with HELCOM, and emphasized one of the project results: Baltic Smart Water Hub portal for exchange of ideas and experiences in the water sector. Several cases from Russian cities are already present in the Hub, and currently we are working on adding there even more examples and smart approaches to the water management.

During the dialogue, the new publication about BSR WATER was announced: 100+ page collection of articles, interviews, good practices and technical solutions from around the Baltic Sea. The publication is in Russian to engage Russian-speaking stakeholders into the platform cooperation (original articles can be found in the newsroom on this website and in the Water Blog).

The session of Interreg BSR hosted more than 40 active participants and was also broadcasted for hundreds of viewers. Elena Kolosova, project officer at Interreg BSR JS, introduced the future topics outlined for the new Programme for the period 2021–2027 and a preliminary schedule for its launching. Participants agreed that all listed environmentaly oriented focuses are most relevant for the region – and in addition, listed other important themes for the regional development through the international cooperation, i.e. education, health, social development, gender equality, youth involvement. It was also emphasized that future Interreg projects should also focus on practical implementation and therefore consider wider involvement of municipalities and opportunity to launch pilot investments to achieve, among others, tangible results of the cooperation.