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Umbrella 2.0 project kicked off!

On 13th January 2021 Umbrella 2.0 project partners: Euroregion Baltic, Unione of the Baltic Cities and Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation met together with the Swedish Institute representative to officially start the activities in the new project. Read below to get to know our project better and familiarise with the activities we plan to offer to our beneficiaries in the Baltic Sea Region.

UMBRELLA 2.0 – why we applied to SI for the support?

2021 will be a gap year for cross-border cooperation. The South Baltic Programme, a primary financial tool utilised by Euroregion Baltic to reach its scope, will launch the new programming period 2021-2027 only at the end of 2021. Only small project funds will be available. Hence, Euroregion Baltic realised that the Umbrella project’s success and capacity building process initiated in 2018 could not be stopped. For this reason, the so-called Umbrella 2.0 proposal was presented to the Swedish Institute as the natural consequence of Umbrella Project (SBP) and its willingness to become a recognised brand, active also on a broader Baltic Sea scale.

Therefore, Euroregion Baltic, together with UBC and BSSSC, submitted Umbrella 2.0- Boosting transnational cooperation capacities for multilevel actors in the Baltic Sea Region- that has been approved by the Swedish Institute in Nov 2020 and launched in January 2021.

AIM OF THE PROJECT

The project’s overarching goal is to increase awareness and knowledge of transnational cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. More specifically, the project aims at initiating a process for the development of strong multi-actor and multilevel governance partnerships that can undertake cross-sectoral sustainable solutions while following the principles and objectives of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EU Green Deal and UN SDG.

The aims concerning the Baltic Region are :

– To raise awareness of opportunities and benefits of transnational and cross-border cooperation and increase regional stakeholders’ interest in it;

– To empower stakeholders to build strategic and long term-partnerships, support networking, and straighten community of practitioners in different sectors;

– To improve knowledge of the EU, its financial instruments and relevant strategies, with particular focus on the EUSBSR;

– To explore the opportunities and benefits of being part of EUSBSR and offer practical guidelines on how to engage in long-term;

– To help build competencies, i.e. knowledge and skills necessary to run projects with benefit to the Policy areas, and create specific networks of interest in different sectors in a cross-sectorial manner focusing on a shift and transformation by our beneficiaries (activating them for sustainable transnational cooperation).

Umbrella 2.0 builds on Umbrella project results. The Umbrella project was launched at the beginning of 2018. It resulted from the realisation that the South Baltic Programme (SBP) was hard to access for small organisations, mainly because of their insufficient institutional and financial capacities. SBP stakeholders in general and small local actors specifically still experience communication barriers, limited English language skills, and lack of competences and capabilities in project development and implementation. To address these challenges, the Umbrella project committed to developing know-how capacities for small local and regional actors and civil society organisations in the South Baltic Programme area to improve their cross-border cooperation participation. To achieve this goal, Umbrella implemented a significantly more comprehensive approach, determined by a strategic decision of the partnership to address different levels of capacity building processes – from a single institutional capacity of potential project partner, via micro-activities addressed to the micro organisations till strategic capacity building on the programme macro-level where we cooperated with EUSBSR HA Capacity coordinators (our Associated Partner).

Umbrella proved to be an optimal mediator among different stakeholders. Therefore, starting from the presumption that the EUSBSR and the local actors are completely detached one from the other, Umbrella 2.0 objective would be to develop know-how capacities for local organisations in cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, harmonising local needs and actions and upper strategic lines.

While the local actors are focused on objectives in their local sphere of influence, the strategy provides guidelines that are not known at the local level. A bridge between local actors and the strategy needs to be set to enhance the interaction among all the governance levels to start a process that can facilitate the implementation of EUSBSR and other sustainable policies matching with EU Green Deal and SDGs. Umbrella 2.0 would act to mediate the communication between the strategies and the local level, raising awareness and providing practical knowledge and tools for implementation.

The past year was the final and firmly the busiest year for the Interreg South Baltic Interconnect project which started in June 2017. 2020 began with some great news from one of the project partners, Innobaltica (Poland), who announced an open tender for the implementation of FALA – integrated ticket for the Pomorskie Region –  a charges collecting system for transportation in collective passenger transport and a consistent passenger information system, standard for both coordinators and carriers.

On February 17th the Interconnect project was presented on a hearing regarding the revision of the TEN-T regulation held by Ministry of Infrastructure in Sweden. During the conference, the Interconnect project Manager Mr Mattias Andersson, representing Region Blekinge, had an opportunity to emphasise the importance of cross-border public transport. The collaboration between Blekinge and Pomorskie Region in the Interconnect project was set as a good example where regions collaborate with private players, in this case, Stena Line, to find new ticket solutions.

In March 2020, the South Baltic success story series, developed within ERB’s Umbrella project, noted the Interconnect project as an example of Interreg South Baltic Programme success story, offering an understanding of the best practices and the success of the project’s results and outcomes.

On March 11th 2020, a first partnership meeting was held in Karlskrona, Sweden. Due to the travel restrictions following the Covid -19 pandemic, only ten persons participated in Region Blekinge office, and two persons experienced online. During this meeting, partners discussed the multigovernance co-operation model for public transport in the South Baltic area, the main outputs of the project, and the project’s final conference details. The partnership has submitted a request for changes where additional activities were mentioned and a prolongation of the implementation period of 6 months until the end of November 2020. Furthermore, a decision was made to postpone the final conference to preliminary October 1st 2020, instead of May 7th and most likely to hold it online.

At the turn of March and April 2020, Joint Secretariat agreed on the project’s prolongation by six months while Monitoring Committee approved all requests for changes.

With the begging of June, The Hanseatic Institute for Entrepreneurship and Regional Development at the University of Rostock (HIE-RO) announced it is about to deliver an Indicator-based self-evaluation tool in Excel for public transport planners within the task 4.2 “Implementing a multi-stakeholder planning model for public transport services”. The tool’s main objective is to develop an easy-to-use self-evaluation (or monitoring) indicator tool in Excel that can be used by public transport planners to evaluate the performance of the local and regional (public) transport system.

Between 13th and 26th of July, a joint Danish-German exhibition called “ekspeditioNORD” took place, as part of the German-Danish year of cultural friendship. The event was co-financed by the Interconnect project on the principle of supporting co-operation and cross – border interconnections between local governments and public administrations and civil societies with a specific focus on educational institutions and schools, culture and tourism organisations and business co-operations.

In August Mr Mattias Andersson, Interconnect Project leader was invited by Mukran Port in Germany to participate in ‘South Baltic Transport Loops’ project partnership meeting, where he had a chance to speak about the findings the Interconnect project and discuss the cross-project exchange.

In August, the Polish Ministry of Development Fund and Regional Policy has chosen the Interconnect Project to be promoted as one of the best projects of Interreg South Baltic Programme 2014-2020. Therefore, a photo session was organised to present the main goals and achievements of Interconnect Project. The photo session results were presented in December 2020 in a publication on “15 years of Interreg programs in Poland”.

Summer period ended up with information that the first Interconnect scientific paper on ‘PT Data for multi-stakeholder planning and monitoring excel tool for public transport services’ was accepted for publication at the CSTFM-conference in Madrid October 2020. The paper resulted from WP 3.5 and related to a process and solutions for sustainable cross-border and regional public transport.

With the beginning of September, intensive preparations for the upcoming Final Conference started. The invitation and conference agenda sent to more than 300 people and an intensive promoting campaign in social media began.

On September 8th, Mr Mattias Andersson attended the ERB Executive Board meeting. He presented the idea of establishing a new task force within ERB, concentrated on sustainable transport issues and related to the Interconnect project’s outputs.

On September 17th, the Project partner Mr Frede Danborg from Guldborgsund Kommune was invited to become one of the pannelists during the Interreg South Baltic Programme’s Annual Event celebrating 30 years of Interreg South Baltic. Mr Danborg had a chance to present the Interconnect project, its objectives and challenges throughout projects lifetime, and opportunities it has created to impact public transport in small Baltic Sea regions.

On October 1st 2020, the Interconnect Final Conference titled ‘Future of Public Transport – Trends, Tools, Governance’ was held online via Hop.in the platform. Nearly 100 participants from 14 countries joined the conference to take part in many valuable lectures on sustainable transport, cross-border passenger transport and new solutions in public transport given by experts from EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, The Hanseatic Institute for Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, InnobalticaBlekinge Institute of Technology and Interreg South Baltic. The participants also had a chance to hear panellists from ESPON ProgrammeInteract ProgrammeRegion Blekinge and Euroregion Baltic discussing and exchanging experience on various multilevel governance options.

In November, as a result of several workshops and discussions among project partners and experts in the transport sector, a Catalogue of Solutions for Sustainable Cross-Border and Regional Public Transport was finally developed and published on the project website.

The publication was shortly followed by the Interconnect Final Report on Guidelines on multilevel governance for Public Transport in the South Baltic Area published on November 25th 2020.

On November 30th 2020, partners from Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, and Viimsi Municipality in Estonia met for the last time, to sum up, the Interconnect project results. After 42 months of an exciting and fruitful co-operation, the Interconnect project partners from 6 EU countries met for the last time to finalise their work results achieved within the project. During the final meeting, the project partners had a chance, to sum up, their previous work & results within the project and share their experience and ideas for further co-operation. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the meeting was held online. All the partners expressed their hopes to continue cooperating to support the development of sustainable public transport, mobility and connectivity in South Baltic Area.

Finally on December 3rd 2020 during the final ERB Executive Board meeting in 2020 the Board members all agreed to establish another task force in the Euroregion Baltic – Mobility Core Group, which will consist of partners from the Interconnect project, as well as contact persons and experts from the ERB member organisations.

Baltic Sea Youth Platform is an Erasmus+ Programme project that aims to empower youth and foster real participation in decision and policy-making in the Baltic Sea Region. The platform will enable youth organisations to reach their fullest potential by empowering them to develop new ideas and pursue them jointly, under the 2030 Agenda framework’s guidance. Moreover, it will engage youth at different levels to design a common framework for action and a shared Baltic Sea Region (BSR) identity. The partnership aims to improve youth’s political impact on Baltic Sea policy-making, develop tools for better knowledge transfer, and facilitate various innovative projects relying on the interests and capacities of youth in a broad range of policy areas.

The BSYP project started on February 1st 2020 and will be completed in August 2022. Throughout the past year, it supported and got involved in many youth-oriented initiatives, thus promoting BSYP.

On 2-3rd March 2020 in Elbląg, the first physical strategic partner meeting took place. Partners from CBSS, BSSSC, UBC, ESN Finland and via Skype Lithuanian Youth Council met to discuss budgetary issues, intellectual outputs, and activities planned for 2020 among many Baltic Sea Youth Camp EUSBSR Forum in Turku.

Over the next months, partners focused on intensive preparations for the Baltic Sea Youth Camp 2020, developing youth working groups, recruiting its members, communicating campaigns, and collecting feedback for the BSYP development purpose.

Between 2-5th June 2020 BSYP participated in the BSSSC Spring Youth Event. On the 5th day of the conference, Ms Kaarina Williams and Aline Meyer from CBSS (BSYP Project Leader) introduced BSYP as a new tool for youth participation in BSR. 

Only one week later, on 12-13th June the Baltic Sea Youth Camp 2020 took place. Due to the emerging pandemic outbreak in Europe, the event was held online, instead of primarily planned camp in Turku. The event gathered experts, youth and all enthusiasts of the Baltic Sea Region. It gave them a chance to work on EUSBSR issues and to join the discussion on regional co-operation, climate change, bioeconomy, SDGs, education, culture and youth – leadership and networking.

On July 8th, the first online BSYP working groups meeting was held. Participants who applied for joining Advocacy,  PowerBox, Culture and Cities, Research, IT  or Communication working group discussed each group’s framework and work plan for the next months.

BSYP was also a partner for the BSSSC Autumn Youth Event organised on 22-24th September, which concerned circular economy and plastic-free Baltic, Baltic identity and culture, intelligent transport and mobility and finally co-operation.

At the begging of October, several local events for young people were organised to familiarise youth with the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. One of the hubs was organised by ERB on October 5th in Elbląg Technological Park. Its purpose was to encourage youth to choose science and technology studying path.

On October 17th the second edition of virtual Baltic Sea Youth Camp took place. Again the event gathered many young people who joined an interactive and fruitful discussion with the participation of many decisionmakers who presented their personal experience within the EUSBSR. The event resulted in development of a very promising EUSBSR Youth Declaration which was later explained by Ms Aline Meyer, BSYP project leader, on the 11th Annual Forum of the EUSBSR digital edition on October 20th 2020, during a panel discussion about merging knowledge, skills and working cross-generationally in the BSR.

At the turn of October and November BSYP was also engaged in the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue Competition initiative encouraging youth to show their creativity in terms of BSR co-operation.

Below you can find all 7 Umbrella promo video clips summarising the project that we prepared for the final conference. We asked our project beneficiaries and Umbrella partners to give their comments on the activities and outcomes of our project. Enjoy!

The Umbrella project was meant to be exactly that – an umbrella to gather other projects and a way to connect people through cross-border projects. It was aimed at newcomers who had not yet been involved in projects in the South Baltic Programme. These included small local and regional organisations with an interest in developing a South Baltic identity. 
Stakeholders were invited to participate in national training courses in project management and offered tailor-made solutions to help build capacity. Different initiatives and micro-activities such as “meet your- neighbour” has helped break down barriers and spread the concepts and values of cross-border cooperation.

A cross-border project to inspire more cross-border cooperation The overall purpose of this project was to enlighten people that cooperation is important for geographic, economic, and social cohesion and that approaching the field of EU grants and projects can be an advantage in local development policies. A gradual process with great potential This development is not without obstacles, and capacity building should not be seen as a goal in itself, but rather as a process. To build a house you need to lay brick by brick, starting from the foundation. That is why the Umbrella project was introduced with awareness-raising events to say: “Hey you! Change is just around the corner! Go out and see what is going on in the region you live in.”

And for those who were already aware of the great potential of the Baltic Sea Region, well, knowledge can always be increased. We have been looking forward to introducing you to the benefits of cross-border cooperation in the South Baltic Sea region. These 12 Interreg South Baltic projects are here to motivate and to inspire – and we are pleased to include our own achievements – and tips & tips on how to be part of the Interreg South Baltic family.

This is our Success Story Book
To inspire. To encourage. To bring the action!

Download full publication here: The Benefits of Cross-Border Cooperation

Climate-neutral cities 2030

Why cities?

Cities play a crucial role in climate change change. They cover about 3% of the earth’s surface, but account for about 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, they are growing rapidly. In Europe, almost 85% of the population is estimated to live in cities by 2050; in Sweden was 93 percent. That is why cities are important to deal with the climate crisis. And that is why urban climate change is extremely important for all countries. This is shown, among other things, in the EU’s Green Deal for Europe, which aims to make the whole of Europe climate neutral by 2050, the first climate-neutral continent. We focus on climate change in cities because changes for the greatest and fastest effect there.

Everyone must be involved

Viable Cities works on the basis of a holistic approach to sustainable urban development. This means that we assume that everyone in society must be involved in order to make the necessary changes: entrepreneurs and researchers, politicians and officials, organisations and ordinary people. We assume that it is particularly important that citizens must be involved in its success, and we also assume that digitalisation and digital tools can contribute in various ways to the major change.

What do we think?

So major changes are needed throughout society in order to meet the climate targets and save the planet. Doing what we have always done is no longer possible, we have to work in completely new ways. Viable Cities takes the help of research in many areas and inspiration from other thinkers to find this new way of working together. We hope that this new way will be so successful that we can help all cities, in Sweden, in Europe and in the world, to become economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

What’s the goal?

We have a mission that we are striving towards: Climate-neutral cities by 2030 with a good life for everyone within the planet’s borders. Thus, cities that do not burden the planet with emissions, where everyone in the city can have a good life, both socially and economically. It sounds incredible, but it’s possible, if we’re really working for it.

We’re not the only ones working on this mission. Our mission is in line with the UN Agenda 2030 and the Paris agenda, which are important starting points for the climate and sustainability work of many Swedish cities. It is also in line with the Swedish climate and environmental goals and the EU’s goal – to be a climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Climate-neutral cities 2030 initiative

Nine Swedish municipalities and their partners (Enköping, Gothenburg, Järfälla, Lund, Malmö, Stockholm, Umeå, Uppsala and Växjö) are part of the initiative Climate neutral cities 2030. They applied in competition and were granted support in Viable Cities Call 3#. They have taken it upon themselves to test new ways of working and solutions, to learn from each other and to work for the mission: to create cities that work well for the people who live in it, that are good for the economy of citizens, businesses and society – and – that are good for the climate. In 2021, there will be opportunities for more cities to join the venture.

What do Viable Cities do then?

Viable Cities contributes to our knowledge, experience and support. We also try to link other efforts made for sustainable cities, in Sweden, in the EU and globally. We create meeting places; by working with others and learning from each other, we can accelerate the development of climate-neutral and sustainable cities. It must be faster if we are to achieve the paris agreement’s objective: not to allow the average temperature on earth to rise by more than 1.5 degrees.

Well, there’s no benefit. We do not yet know what the climate-neutral and sustainable city looks like. That’s what we’re working on. Together with cities, businesses, researchers, politicians, civil servants, authorities and ordinary people, we try ideas, we fail, we learn and we try again. We call the work Viable Cities Transition Lab.

Part of the work with climate neutral cities in 2030 is the work on:

Climate City Contract 2030

https://en.viablecities.se/foi-projekt/klimatneutrala-vaxjo-2030

https://en.viablecities.se/foi-projekt/klimatneutrala-malmo-2030

https://en.viablecities.se/foi-projekt/klimatneutrala-lund-2030

Viable Cities is a strategic innovation program with a focus on smart sustainable cities. The programme’s mission is to speed up the transition to climate-neutral cities by 2030 with a good life for everyone within the planet’s boundaries.

Viable Cities is a catalyst for new forms of cooperation between cities, industry, academia, research institutes and civil society. This is to mobilise to change the way our cities work in line with our national environmental and climate objectives and our international commitments linked to the global sustainability goals – Agenda 2030 – and the Paris Agreement.

The programme’s time frame is 2017-2030 and is implemented with support in a concerted effort by Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency and Formas, where the Swedish Energy Agency is the principal authority. KTH is the host organization.

Vision

Sweden inspires and has a leading role in energy and climate change through smart and sustainable cities.

The ambition is to strengthen Sweden’s role in the development of smart sustainable cities by building on the country’s strengths in research, innovation and entrepreneurship. The programme will drive development and have a leading position and intends to work with other leading countries and cities to be a hub and establish a global network for smart sustainable cities.

Mission

Viable Cities’ mission is to achieve climate-neutral cities by 2030 with a good life for everyone within the planet’s borders.

Read more info on their website: https://en.viablecities.se/om-viable-cities




WHAT: Please register for the CTCC Final Conference – Final Digital Workshop within the EU Interreg Project CTCC – Creative Traditional Companies Cooperation part-financed within the Interreg South Baltic Programme 2014-2020. The project gathers together multi-level policy actors from academia & research, creative and traditional businesses, policymakers, intermediaries that work together since 15th July 2017 towards improving creativity and design-driven innovation capacity in – SMEs – as the backbone of our regional, national and EU economy, which enable sustainable and customer-driven growth and shared value creation and capturing opportunities.

WHEN: Tuesday, 12th January 2021 von 09:00 UTC+01 bis 12:00 UTC+01

WHERE: ONLINE, the link will be sent to registered participants only.

HOW: Precondition to take part: stable Internet connection and any device needed, like smart phone, laptop.

WHY: To learn best practices from the South Baltic Sea Region on traditional industry SMEs innovation driven by cross-sectoral collaboration with Creative Industries and cross-innovation. By showing tangible results – innovation prototypes developed for traditional sector SMEs – the CTCC project envisages avenues and possibilities for SMEs to contribute to the so-called Blue & Green Growth in the region and in the EU as well as to facilitate regional development through increased innovation capacity of all participating companies, interdisciplinary learning and multi-cultural experience sharing across borders, disciplines and cultures.

WHO: Everybody is welcome who feels that creativity and creative skills are the next competitive wave and sustainable future driving forces.

Register using this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeVCw8QAIKdqsvCtFqHTDrxfFHcd7NYcJcHgdFKHtwpdzkUPQ/formResponse

On 3rd December 2020, during the final ERB Executive Board meeting in 2020 and the last one under the Presidency of the Association of Polish Communes Euroregion baltic (PL), the Board members all agreed to establish another task force in the Euroregion Baltic – Mobility Core Group.

The decision was made after the Blekinge Region Board Member – Mr Johan Sandberg, ERB Vice President presented the idea to the ERB Board Members. Blekinge Region will host a secretariat for the newly established group.

The ERB Mobility Core Group consists of partners from the previous Interreg South Baltic project Interconnect, as well as contact persons and experts from the ERB member organisations.

The group will be working on behalf of the ERB Board with concrete actions and the work is supposed to contribute to project development and common activities improving mobility between the ERB member regions.

The Mobility Core Group will report to a steering group consisting of ERB board members (appointed by the ERB Board). Lobbying activities in order to represent and promote common interests;

Implementation of strategic initiatives and projects complementing the local and regional agendas of the member organisations; and

Exchange activities, to seek a collaborative approach to common challenges and to progress in innovation and in operational efficiency of the cooperation. The Mobility Core Group will focus on activities from the below perspectives.

Exchange of experience:

  • Trends affecting public transport and sustainability change directions of the local and regional transport systems in the South Baltic area.
  • Public transport planning vs. strategies by private operators (e.g. ferry companies).

Shared challenges

  • Access to cross-border PT services for rural and more remote areas.
  • Low knowledge/awareness of leisure time attractions on ‘the other shore’.
  • Fighting climate change

Joint solutions

  • ‘Low-hanging fruits’ (new or enhanced methods, services or products developed and/or applied in the Interconnect project and demonstrating a high replication potential)
  • Cross-border perspective of public transport in the local and regional strategic documents

Impact on other sectors

  • Tourism routes – adapted to different target groups
  • Cross-border commuting / labour market travel patterns
  • Student and youth travel patterns

 Method

The Mobility Core Group will apply a Multi-level governance perspective on its activities. The link between TEN-T development and contribution to the EU cohesion policies is considered a week. The focus will be to apply a holistic view on regional mobility and transport planning as a driving force for boosting potentials within other sectors such as tourism, education and business. This approach will strengthen the relationship between public transport, regional development and the citizens.

 Actors from each region

The ERB Mobility Core Group should aim to include members from all nine regions, in six countries. The basis will be the partnership from the previous Interreg South Baltic project Interconnect with the possibility to extend the network with relevant representatives from each of the ERB member organisations. The group will also invite relevant participants from regions outside the ERB geographical area ie former Interconnect partners.

Actions

The Core Group aims to have physical meetings back to back with the ERB Board meetings. Those meetings will be complemented by online meetings.

The meetings should aim to identify “hot topics” and “bottlenecks” for further joint development and discussion.  

On Saturday, 12th of December, the ”Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue – Let’s create a sustainable future together!” held an award ceremony to celebrate the participants and winners. The competition which was open for youth ages 18-30 had three categories, essay competition, poster competition and project competition. The winners of the poster category will also be exhibited in the catalogue of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art.

The winners for each category follows as such:

Essay competition

1st place:Alise Ilena – La marDOWNLOAD

2nd place:Sophie-Marie Ludwig – Come and goDOWNLOAD

3rd place:Ania Wojcik – Humpback Whale NettieDOWNLOAD

Poster competition

1st place:
Guste MergiunaiteDOWNLOAD

2nd place:
Greta RadzeviciuteDOWNLOAD


3rd place:Ania WojcikDOWNLOAD

Project competition

1st place:
Fenja Neumann – BonanzaDOWNLOAD

2nd place:
Akmaikin Dmitrijeva -BalticSea SDGs StudiesDOWNLOAD


3rd place:Simon Lightfoot – My Mare BalticumDOWNLOAD

It was a hard job for the jurys to select the winners out of the 51 received submissions. The jury for the essay competition consisted of Isabel Hölz, Director of the Goethe Institute, Finland, Rein Raud, author and philosopher, Estonia and Arndis Thorarinsdottir, author, Iceland. Ruta Stepanovaite, Director of Kaunas Artists House, Lithuania, David Schilter, comic book publisher, Latvia and Arunas Gelunas, Director of the Lithuanian Museum of Art, Lithuania selected the winners in the poster competition. The project ideas were evaluated by Grzegorz Poznanski, Director General of the CBSS Secretariat, Sweden, Helen Nilsson, Director of the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania, Lithuania and Justyna Turek and Henryk Stawicki from Change Pilots, Poland.

The award ceremony included speeches from EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Mr. Virginijus Sinkevičius, German Ambassador to Sweden, Dr. Anna Prinz and Director General of the CBSS Secretariat, Mr. Grzegorz Poznański. The participants also got to enjoy musical performances by Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet theatre, and the Estonian guitar duo Kartau & Kiivit.

Three years have passed since Umbrella was approved by INTERREG South Baltic Programme and launched by the partnership. This project was needed since research showed that the South Baltic Programme was still poorly available to small organizations because of insufficient institutional and financial capacities, communication barriers, lack of English language skills, lack of competencies and capacities for project development and implementation. What observed in the frame of the South Baltic Programme could be generalized also for other European grants and other local cross-border cooperation opportunities in the South Baltic Sea area. The overall objective of the project was to initiate a process of the capacity building involving small municipalities, NGOs and other local/ regional organizations in order to transfer the knowledge and capacities and to include them in the current cross-border cooperation networks. Today we can finally state that we’ve achieved over expected results.

On 2nd December the final conference of the project was held online as an engaging webinar. Short videos alternated to partners’ introduction and presentation of the results with a look to the future and Umbrella 2.0 that will be launched in 2021. This conference aimed to be also a moment of awareness-raising on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, Sustainable Development Goals and their achievements in the Baltic Sea Region, and the EU Green Deal- a roadmap for the upcoming years.

To conclude, some hints about the future South Baltic Programme and EU programming period were provided. With the fantastic moderation of Mr Maciej Kautz, we can say that we eventually concluded a great project that, as stated many times, is just the beginning. The seeds have been planted, the process has been started and we are confident that with our contribution cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region will be strengthened. Umbrella aimed at becoming a brand in the region, recognized for its replicable toolbox of tailor-made solutions. Well, we have done a great job.

So, what to expect for the near future? For sure an awareness-raising event, “Meet-your-flagship” activities to connect with the EUSBSR, webinars on project management, training on SDG, EUSBSR and EU Green Deal to really engage local actors and connect them with the strategic levels of cooperation. We look forward to getting started and have you all on board!

The content of this website is the sole responsibility of the author and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union, the Managing Authority or the Joint Secretariat of the South Baltic Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2014-2020. The project UMBRELLA is partly financed from the Interreg South Baltic Programme 2014-2020 through the European Regional Development Fund.