Celebrating UBC’s 25 years in boosting cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region
The UBC has reached a mile point when turning 25 in 2016. During all these years, the organization has undergone a major shift to hold its strong position as a credible partner in the Baltic Sea Region and in Europe. The jubilee is a great occasion to remind of past achievements, but also to look far ahead. How could we shape the future?
At the Founding Conference in Gdańsk in September 1991 Anders Engström, the first UBC President, focused on the potential of the cities’ cooperation:
“The Baltic region has now the possibility to take its place in new developing Europe, with its long tradition of city co-operation, its plenty of universities, with the will and the strength to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The only way to meet the global competition of tomorrow will be to form this region of ours”.
Building on the past but looking to the future
The UBC has come a long way from being the open door for cities cut off from the international West-East contacts for over 45 years to the strong organization it is today, representing around 100 member cities across the Baltic Sea Region. The commitment to face and solve the problems inherited from the past decades expressed at the Founding Conference laid a solid foundation for continuous work for the sustainable future of the cities and the region, and outlined the cooperation between different stakeholders.
The priorities of the UBC have been evolving along with the new reality, addressing the major challenges, like economic crisis, youth unemployment, refugees influx, climate change, to name only a few. The UBC has created a open forum that inspires. Our member cities have experiences and expertise in different fields, e.g. energy, environment and smart transportation, health, business, culture, youth work, safety, and many others.
Leadership needed – in Cities and in Europe
Today, Europe is facing fundamental challenges, which are intensified by the uncertainty in global context. The UBC wants to emphasize the BSR cities' attachment to the European values such as freedom, democracy, equality, tolerance, and diversity.
“We, as cities and regions have a wide responsibility: to engage in shaping and building Europe of tomorrow. Europe based on trust and democratic values, where the voice of ordinary citizens including the youth is heard and taken into account”, says UBC President Per Bødker Andersen.
The cities and regional authorities are the crucial link to make democracy work. They should enhance their role as leaders in the search for innovative and practical solutions that create a high quality living environment for all inhabitants. And the UBC remains the natural platform to facilitate cities’ cooperation and exchange and to spread good solutions across the region and Europe.
A special plenary devoted to the achievements of the UBC in the service of its cities and the region will be held during the XIV UBC General Conference in Växjö on 25 October. The session also highlights the central role of cities in promoting European values and cooperation.