BSC News

30.06.2017 10:00

Seven pioneer cities recognized by Niklas Zennström

These cities from four countries have successfully completed the first Baltic Sea City Accelerator, a new approach for innovative Baltic Sea Action and cleaning up the sea.

Text: Merci Olsson, Race for the Baltic

At a ceremony held on 28 June in Stockholm, mayors and leading civil servants representing seven municipalities in Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden were recognised for their successful completion of the Baltic Sea City Accelerator, a programme initiated by Race for the Baltic, foundation established by Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype and CEO and founding partner of Atomico.

The happy pioneer cities and Race for the Baltic people after the ceremony. Photo: Niklas Elmehed.

- I am impressed by the cities' high ambition levels and their innovative plans to help clean up the Baltic Sea. Cities are the change agents that can make a real difference to restore the Baltic Sea and reach the Sustainable Development Goal targets, says Zennström. - We have a positive momentum right now, but there is still more that needs to be done.

For the past 18 months, the pioneers - Kalmar, Vaxholm, Västervik and Värmdö from Sweden, Mariehamn from Finland, Panevezys from Lithuania and Slupsk from Poland - have participated in the Baltic Sea City Accelerator, a programme that brings local governments, businesses and members of the science community together to develop local Baltic Sea Action Plans and identify sustainable and innovative solutions for local water challenges.

- In addition to the municipalities developing local Baltic Sea Action Plans, collectively the pilot programme has helped bring forth 150 "clean water" initiatives, representing more than €100 million in clean water investments being identified, and all pilot municipalities aiming to achieve their share of HELCOM nutrient reduction targets, says Barbara Jackson, CEO of Race for the Baltic that is the organisation behind the Baltic Sea City Accelerator progrmme.

The programme is unique in that in addition to introducing a corporate strategy and change management lens to tavkling environmental issues, it focuses on municipalities and fosters an exciting new way of collaboration among various stakeholders in the Baltic region.

The new local Baltic Sea Action Plans were ceremonially handed over to HELCOM and Baltic Sea Challenge. Photo: Niklas Elmehed.
Politicians and high level civil servants presented their ambitions and best practices at the event on 28 June which was attended by representatives from the Swedish and Baltic Sea region government, academic institutions and the private sector. Also Baltic Sea Challenge was present and the new local Baltic Sea Action Plans were officially handed over to Baltic Sea Challenge and HELCOM in the end of the event.

Most of the pioneering cities are also Baltic Sea Challenge network members, and in June Panevezys sent their updated Action Plan to be presented on our website. Kalmar and Västervik have joined our network and sent their Action Plans also in June, and we are expecting the rest of the cities' updates or joining the BSC network soon. You can read the impressive action plans on the above linked cities' own subpages.

Read more on the City Accelerator website!

Baltic Sea Challenge has been cooperating with Race for the Baltic since 2015 and has been an expert partner in development of the Baltic Sea City Accelerator, giving consultance with 10 years of experience on how to build local Baltic Sea Action Plans for cities.

Of the seven pioneering cities, Mariehamn has been BSC network member since 2007, Panevezys and Slupsk since 2008 and Värmdö since 2014. Kalmar and Västervik joined in June 2016.

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