Baltic 2030 – Macro-regional cooperation for sustainable prosperity in the Baltic Sea Region
The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), through its Expert Group on Sustainable Development (EGSD) has gathered national and transnational stakeholders from the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) countries to develop and adopt the Baltic 2030 Action Plan, which aligns the 2030 Agenda to the challenges and needs of the BSR. The EGSD is mandated to continue working for advocating the SDGs, building capacity of key actors (local and national authorities, young people, NGOs, etc), leadership training in the region, promoting tools for mainstreaming SDGs across sectors and governance levels, and communicating the results and progress to stakeholders at national, local and macro-regional levels.
The Baltic 2030 Action Plan, adopted in 2017 by the CBSS Member States through the Reykjavik Declaration, outlines a common vision for sustainable development in the Baltic Sea Region and aligns macro-regional priorities to the SDGs. The Action Plan reflects the systemic and holistic approach of the 2030 Agenda, mainstreaming the SDGS into 6 Priority Focus Areas and outlining 6 Activation Processes which will help realizing the Baltic 2030 vision. The CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development (EGSD) is tasked to encourage all stakeholders to engage and take responsibility for implementing the vision, share existing best practices, recognize achievements and success stories, and to regularly present the results of implementation to the CBSS’ Ministries of Foreign Affairs and to society at large.
The EGSD follows up on the SDGs implementation through monitoring existing gaps and needs, building capacity, exchanging good practices, and developing recommendations and guidelines for strategic SDGs mainstreaming across sectors and governance levels. In 2018 the EGSD published, in collaboration with the Nordic Council of Ministers, the report “Baltic 2030 Bumps on the Road”, analysing SDG-related challenges in the Baltic Sea Region and proposing solutions and ways forward. In 2021 the EGSD will update the report to showcase progress on the Baltic 2030 Action Plan and recommend ways forward.
The work of the EGSD is financially supported by the relevant line ministries of the CBSS Member States, and complemented by initiatives supported by EU funding mechanisms and key actors such as the Swedish Institute. The EGSD works in partnership with stakeholders in the Baltic Sea Region to advance action on the SDGs and the Baltic 2030 Action Plan. Relevant to highlight are two training programmes developed with the support of the Swedish Institute and the collaboration with relevant actors such as the OECD, SDSN and the think-tank Global Utmaning. The “Baltic Leadership Programme on 2030 Agenda” (2017-2018) engaged national-level actors to increase their capacity to mainstream and implement the 2030 Agenda in their work. The first module gathered national SDGs coordinators in peer learning on existing good practices for a strategic adoption of the 2030 Agenda at national level. The second module engaged the coordinators of the Policy Areas of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) in awareness raise of the SDGs and on how to align transnational cooperation to the 2030 Agenda. The third conclusive module engaged both stakeholder groups to reflect on how transnational action can best support national efforts in achieving the SDGs. After the programme, several EUSBSR Policy Areas started integrating the SDGs in their actions, anticipating the process of aligning the EUSBSR Action Plan to the SDGs in 2020. The “Baltic 2030 Capacity Building Programme – Localising SDGs” (2018-2019) aimed to increase capacity of local and regional authorities to strategically adopt the 2030 Agenda and mainstream SDGs across sectors. 50 participants met in two modules to peer learn good examples on SDG11 and SDG12, and to develop commitments and ways forward.
The implementation of the Baltic 2030 Action plan has raised awareness on the SDGs and supported actors in the Baltic Sea Region to align existing valuable know-how to the 2030 Agenda. Since 2017, a number of initiatives have been accomplished, including: Publication of the report “Baltic 2030 Bumps on the Road” (2018); Two leadership programmes engaging national, regional, local and pan-Baltic actors, building their capacity on the strategic and integrated approaches of the 2030 Agenda and aligning priorities to the SDGs; Publication of the report “Circular Baltic 2030” (2019) commissioned by the Baltic Sea States Sub-Regional Cooperation (BSSSC) network, member of the CBSS EGSD , and developed by the think-tank Global Utmaning, with the support of the CBSS; Publication of the Handbook “Localising SDGs in the Baltic Sea Region” (2020), with guidelines tailored around the challenges, needs and opportunities highlighted by Baltic Sea Region stakeholders (English and Russian versions).
The partnership for the SDGs in the Baltic Sea Region works upon the input of the CBSS Member States supporting the work of the Secretariat. Constraints are identified in existing financial mechanisms, which do not allow to support capacity building for strategic adoption of the 2030 Agenda at national or subnational level. It still requires a sectorial entry point for example climate or environment. This results in the involvement in cooperation of experts coming from climate, environment or international cooperation departments, rather than strategic personalities within the municipal administrations or the line ministries.
The Baltic 2030 Action Plan provides a vision and a guidance towards sustainable development until 2030 for actors in the Baltic Sea Region. The CBSS EGSD is mandated to supervise the process of implementation by fostering the macro regional efforts towards SDGs implementation and communicating existing good practices and supporting the share of knowledge. The experience of the Baltic Sea Region can be of inspiration for other macro-regions to set common priorities for sustainable development, while maintaining the systemic and holistic approach of the 2030 Agenda, and relating the efforts to their own specific SDG-related challenges. Collaboration, for example, is already ongoing with the European Sustainable Development Network and OECD Territorial Approach to SDGs, also UNECE, and we will be pleased to share the experience with any other interested region.
The support of the implementation of the Baltic 2030 Action Plan is strongly related to the possibility of exchanging experiences and good practices, co-creating initiatives with transboundary impacts, and designing shared solutions. The Covid-19 crisis has to some extent hampered these efforts, however actors in the region have adapted to extent that was possible the events and projects, comparing to the initial plans. The lessons learnt from the pandemic time, for example the possibility of organising hybrid meetings, will be a resource also for future developments, with potential positive impacts on climate as well. However, the added value of the initiative lies in the possibility to establish professional and personal connections for developing ideas, solutions, and mutual learning.
SDGS & Targets
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Deliverables & Timeline
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