Interreg BSR Conference: together and beyond borders
The Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme Conference on 9–10 April 2019 gathered more than 300 participants in Lubeck, Germany to demonstrate achievements of the programme and its funded projects and discuss further regional cooperation. The agenda of the event encompassed 16 parallel sessions presenting both single projects and project platforms funded by Interreg, united into key topics of transnational importance. BSR WATER platform organized a session on water management on 10 April.
BSR WATER session focused on highlighting important interlinkages of the water management sector simultaneously using the chance to demonstrate how Interreg-funded projects united by the BSR WATER platform target bottlenecks in cross-sectoral cooperation to advance wastewater treatment in the region.
The session opened with the presentation of the platform and its activities and continued with a panel discussion featuring four representatives of projects contributing to BSR WATER: IWAMA and BEST from the project consortium, as well as externally involved NonHazCity and FanpLESStic-sea. The panel discussion aimed at contextualizing the achievements of these projects and discussing how to aid to the better-informed practice-based policy making. Representatives of the projects mentioned different challenges in the region, not only the overall state of eutrophication on the Baltic Sea, but also more practical sides affecting it – for example, industries and how to smartly approach industrial wastewater at WWTPs. Highlighted in this respect were different practical project achievements that either support smarter governance of the water sector, or help in practical improvement of water facilities. One of the examples of the latter was a pilot mobile plant at WWTP in Gdańsk, which was implemented in the framework of IWAMA to test artificial wetland as a solution to energy-efficient wastewater treatment, and now continues as a testing bed for handling microplastics in the scope of the FanpLESStic-sea project.
The panel discussion was supported by the interactive involvement of the audience representing a wide array of organizations from local and national authorities, international organizations, academia and private sector. To support the statements, the audience was invited to vote on who, in their opinion, should take the leading role in bringing innovations to the water and wastewater sector. The leading result of national authorities in this poll followed the trend reoccurring during the conference: while listing manifold practical achievements reached by single projects, their representatives emphasized the need for harmonisation of approaches and developing regulations in the fields those are lacking.
The closure of the panel was devoted to the identification of the future trends that should be explored and advanced further through the transnational cooperation. In this, the audience was also engaged into adding more examples to the list. WIth the panel participants naming, among other topics, microplastics, greenhouse gases and further development of sludge management and energy recovery from sludge, the audience supplemented the list with the topics that were not covered. The top-three of most popular trends suggested by the audience included hazardous substances, sludge management and nutrient recycling, with a wide range of other water-related topics.
The session was finalized with the summarizing overview from PA Nutri and PA Hazard coordinators on how the cooperation projects reinforce goals of the EUSBSR – these coordinators are involved in the platform’s partnership and they closely follow the BSR WATER implementation.
"By collaborating, regions and cities around the Baltic Sea get better at tackling challenges that go beyond borders"
– Susanne Scherrer
Interreg Baltic Sea Region MA/JS