61st Executive Board meeting, Karlstad, 17 June 2011

Minutes of the  61st Meeting of the Executive Board

Karlstad, Sweden, 17 June 2011

 

The 61st meeting of the Executive Board of the Union of the Baltic Cities was held on 17 June 2011 in Karlstad, Sweden, upon the invitation of Per-Samuel Nisser, Mayor of Karlstad. The meeting was attended by the members of Executive Board, members of strategy task force, invited guests.  The list of participants is attached to the minutes.

1.                  Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda.

The meeting was opened by Marie-Louise Rönnmark, UBC 1st Vice-President, Mayor of Umeå. Ms Rönnmark expressed her gratitude to the hosts of the meeting for inviting the UBC Executive Board to hold the meeting in Karlstad. Ms Rönnmark informed that President Per Bødker Andersen was unfortunately not able to attend the meeting due to illness.

The meeting adopted the agenda, attached to the minutes.

2.            Election of two persons who, together with the President, will check the minutes.

Ewa Back, member of UBC Board of Audit, Sundsvall and Gunars Ansins, Deputy Mayor of Liepaja, were elected to check the minutes together with 1st Vice-President.

3.            Presentation of the city of Karlstad.

Anna Sandborgh, Karlstad Chief Executive, welcomed the participants and presented the film introducing the city of Karlstad.

Karlstad is situated at the mouth of the Klarälven river, on the northern shore of Lake Vänern, the largest lake in the EU, half way between Stockholm and Oslo. Karlstad municipality has about 85,000 inhabitants. The city was founded in 1584 by King Karl IX and has developed from being a trading city into an industrial and service city. The great fire in 1865 destroyed almost the whole city, with only a few buildings surviving.

Karlstad has one of the most modern universities in Sweden, with 50 educational programmes and about 12,000 students. The Karlstad area has world-leading expertise in the fields of pulp, paper and packaging, and the industrial forestry cluster known as the ‘paper province’ with its 250 member companies.

Local events include opera at Värmlandsoperan, the Swedish Rally, elite ice hockey matches featuring Färjestads BK and major, top-level athletics competitions.

Karlstad is committed to environmentally sustainable growth. Vänern, which has the biggest wind farm on a lake, provides the municipality with a lot of green electricity. Karlstad is a Fair Trade city with a high proportion of organic and Fair Trade-labelled products. Major investment has been made in public transport and over a three-year period SEK 30 million has been invested in cycle paths.

4.            Application for membership from Tierp, Sweden, presentation of the city.

Per Jonsson, Acting CEO, made a presentation about the city of Tierp.

City of Tierp is located at the east coast of Sweden approximately 120 km north of Stockholm, between the cities of Uppsala and Gävle. Tierp municipality has 20100 residents. Tierp is well known for its Walloon works, Örbyhus castle and  more than 50 km coastline by the Baltic Sea.

Tierp has a long tradition of producing iron. Today the companies produce tools for the industry, high speed steels and powder metallurgy, air treatment solutions and climate control technologies.

Tierp Arena was officially opened June 12th 2011 as a drag racing and multi outdoor arena with 20000 seats. The arena will have a great impact on the municipality´s development in many aspects. A national senior high school focusing on motor sport will open soon next to the arena.

Tierp municipality has a well-developed infrastructure including railway and motorway connections to Arlanda airport.

Decision:

The Board decided to accept Tierp as a member of the Union of the Baltic Cities and wished Tierp a successful cooperation with other UBC member cities.

5.            Latest developments in the Commission on Health & Social Affairs, Chairman Wojciech Drozd, Elbląg.

Wojciech Drozd, Chairman of the Commission, reminded that the leadership of the Commission on Health and Social Affairs was handed over to the city of Elbląg in 2010. Due to the local elections and change of the chairman, the commission launched its work in February 2011. A letter of intent was sent out to all UBC member cities. The positive feedback was received from several cities from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland.

Mr Drozd informed that the first working meeting of re-activated commission, attended by  representatives of Gdańsk, Koszalin and Elbląg, was held in May in Sopot. The next open meeting of the commission will be held in Elbląg on 12-13 September 2011 with a leading subject “Senior citizens and the city”. The invitations will be sent out till the end of June to all UBC member cities.

Mr Drozd reminded, the commission is responsible the workshop 3 “How to meet the demographic challenge: the aging society” at the General Conference in Liepaja.

The commission initiated contact with two international organizations operating in the BSR - Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS) and Baltic Region Healthy Cities Association.

NDPHS is the intergovernmental organization acting on ministerial level. The work is based on expert groups that create strategies, guidelines and practical solutions of problems connected with public health and social issues on macro level. Mr Drozd informed he had a meeting with NDPHS Head of Secretariat Marek Maciejowski who encouraged the commission to join projects carried out by NDPHS. Mr Drozd invited NDPHS to the GC workshop in Liepaja to speak about primary health care and social care system development to meet the demographic challenge related to ageing.

Baltic Region Healthy City Association as WHO Collaborating Centre promotes health conditions in urban areas and supports WHO programs concerning urban health. Mr Drozd informed in May in Turku he met Johanna Reiman, Executive Director of the Association and invited her to the commission’s meeting in Elbląg and to deliver a speech at the GC workshop in Liepaja on supporting elderly people so they could cope independently at home.

Another speaker at the GC workshop will be professor Peteris Zvidrins, Head of Chair of Statistics and Demography, Faculty of Economics and Management, University of Latvia, who will deliver lecture about demography and ageing in the BSR.

Mr Drozd informed that Commission on Gender Equality was also invited to contribute to the workshop with the speech “Overcoming social exclusion, ageing in gender perspective”.

Mikko Lohikoski informed that city of Pori is interested to join the Commission on Health & Social Affairs.

The report of the Commission on Health & Social Affairs is attached to the minutes.

Decision:

The Board encouraged the member cities to join actively the work of the renewed Commission on Health & Social Affairs.

6.            UBC Strategy.

6.1 Communication & marketing strategy, proposal from Tendensor

Mikko Lohikoski, UBC Strategy Coordinator, Turku, recalled the point 8 of the UBC Strategy 2010-2015 concerns rising public profile of UBC. He said despite successful activities since 1991, UBC is not very well known among some cities, decision makers and general public. This requires more action to raise the public visibility of UBC and its achievements. UBC needs a clear and stronger brand. New marketing and communication strategy will be prepared and brought to the Board for the discussion and adoption. It shall define the current practices and target audience, internally and externally. It shall take into account possibilities offered by internet and new electronic media, cooperation with member cities and other partners, possible high level profile events and joined activities with other organisations.

Mr Lohikoski reminded in connection with the UBC Board meeting in Lahti there was a meeting of interested member cities which formed a task force on communication and marketing strategy. The meeting was constructive and goal oriented. It was decided to present to the Board the guidelines how UBC shall proceed with the strategy for communication and marketing. The Board accepted the proposal and decided to allocate the funds in the UBC budget for an outside expert to work as our consultant on this question.

At the Lahti Board meeting the cities of Kristiansand and Kiel were appointed to take responsibility of that issue. Mr Lohikoski said Øyvind Lyngen Laderud and Wolfgang Schmidt were deeply engaged in this work, taking into account a short time schedule for preparing the draft for discussion.

Those two persons, together with Secretariat and Strategy Coordinator were looking for the potential partners and decided to engage Tendensor company. It’s a well known and respected in the branding field company, relevant for the UBC needs. On 9 June there was a meeting at the Copenhagen airport of the Tendensor and UBC representatives to discuss the details and the project plan. Now it’s time to implement.

Mr Lohikoski said that UBC hired the outside expert company to facilitate the project. He underlined however that UBC can not outsource the process. What we are doing is to define what we want, what kind of organisation we want, how do we want to communicate with each other, etc. Nobody else from outside can or should define that. People outside UBC can help us in this process, but it’s all UBC members who have to express and share the views, what development UBC needs. The more we are engaged, the more input we give, the better result will be. Mr Lohikoski believed this process would be very fruitful for UBC.

Marcus Andersson, Tendensor, agreed Tendensor needs input and active participation of UBC in the process, but it’s the members of our organisation who are the co-creators of the strategy. The company is only a facilitator.

Mr Andersson presented Tendensor. It is a Sweden-based consultancy, specialising in place marketing and place attractiveness, destination marketing, internationalisation, investment, promotion and corporate reputation. Tendensor advice clusters, cities, regions and countries mainly in Northern Europe and in the Baltic Sea region. Tendensor organises conferences and training courses for place managers.

Mr Andersson said the objective of the project is to define and describe the future marketing and communication strategy for UBC and associated actions, namely goals, target groups, stakeholders, channels for communication, etc. The point of departure is the UBC Strategy 2010-2015. We must take action to raise profile and visibility to create the brand. The strategy should take into account both internal and external dimensions of the UBC communication. Mr Andersson underlined importance of communication and the fact that all UBC members are co-creators of the strategy. It’s about inclusion and ownership. As many people as possible from UBC should feel they are owners of communication work of our organisation. Mr Andersson said it was also very important to look for what was unique in the organisation. What defines us, what is our role, main purpose, how we distinguish ourselves from others. This requires to take the outside–in perspective. It means that we move outside our own network and look at us, and we ask other people outside our organisation to find out, what defines us. It is also important to think about positioning and prioritisation. Positioning always takes place vis a vis someone else. It is done in relation to other similar organisations or networks, who have alike or different tasks. Positioning always involves a degree of prioritisation, as we need to make choices. We need to define what we want to focus on. All effective communication rests on this assumption that we need to focus and prioritise. Mr Andersson stressed that all these aspects are essential if one wants to create a brand image or a strong profile and visibility.

The project group would consist of cities of Kiel and Kristiansand, Marcus Andersson, and two interns from Kiel and Kristiansand respectively. A suggested reference group would be basically the same, plus involving – a Strategy Coordinator Mikko Lohikoski and Secretary General Paweł Żaboklicki. The consultant team would be Marcus Andersson and Per Ekman. Additional consultants might be involved in the project later on if necessary.

The process would be carried out in 8 steps. First is a planning phase which contains defining, clarifying the ideas around the project proposal. Mr Andersson said next week the analysis phase would begin. It’s about determining how UBC is seen today, both internally and externally. It’s also about creating this feeling of inclusion and ownership on the process.

There should be asked fundamental questions about who we are, what we stand for, what is our role. How do we differ from others, how we are perceived by others, who are target groups, who are our main friends outside UBC, whom should we cooperate with. It touches upon the questions of identity and perception.

This analysis phase will be comprised of main 3 parts. First part is to make 15-20 expert interviews. This process will be carried out from the end of June till September. Tendensor will talk with the people from national governments, other BSR organisations and EU institutions – the people who have a previous knowledge about UBC.

The second part would be the survey. The survey will be web based, which is very cost efficient to reach as many people as possible. The goal is to send the survey to at least two persons from each member city. That will be around 214 people. Tendensor will send an e-mail to each member and ask to nominate a main contact to UBC network and a person dealing with communication. In the effect the company will build infrastructure for communication that can be used later in implementation of the strategy. The goal is to determine the internal perceptions of the UBC network. How the UBC network see itself.

The third part is a desk research. The website, strategy documents, statements and activity reports will be analysed.

Next phase – feedback phase. Tendensor will report back to the reference group what the company has done and explain the results at the end of September.

The next process phase will form a backbone of the strategy and action plan. It concerns the question how UBC wants to be seen in the future.

Tendensor will work out a desired positioning, branding, “unique selling points”, and create common understanding on the strategy work, in which direction to move in terms of communication and marketing. The main activity will be two process seminars held either in 2 member cities or at the General Conference in Liepaja. Around 20 people will be invited to each seminar. After this the progress report will be done as a webinar, during which the results of the process phase will be presented and discussed with a reference group.

The next one will be the operational phase – Tendensor will draft a strategy and action plan containing a suggested communication and marketing platform, including elements like direction and positioning, core values, messages, selling points channels, target groups and so on. The output of this phase will be the preliminary strategy document presented, discussed and adopted at the first Board meeting after General Conference. And lastly Tendensor will present the final report to the reference group and to the Executive Board.

Jorgen Kristiansen, Councillor, Kristiansand, asked if Tendensor had already made processes for organisations like UBC.

Marcus Andersson answered that not for a network like this. He personally works with Baltic Development Forum communication. So in a way yes, but not with a network with so many members. The methodology comes from processes done with cities, regions and countries.

Marie–Louise Ronnmark said that the biggest power comes from the cities, not the regions. She reminded the Hanseatic League. Ms Ronnmark said that European spatial development planning is like the overview planning in the city, you have to know how to figure it from different parts.

Marcus Andersson stressed that it would not be an easy process, as a network has multiple stakeholders, multiple target groups on different levels, from local to supranational EU level. It’s a difficult task to create a strategy for a network like UBC, even more difficult to implement it later on, he said.

Gunars Ansins asked if Tendensor would submit also actions or only the regulations. Marcus Andersson answered that they would definitely present recommendations on how to implement the strategy in the action plan, which is a part of the strategy.

Mr Per Ekman, Tendensor CEO, proposed a short workshop discussion.

He noticed that nowadays people can access information very easily. They use it to communicate with friends, to learn, to share ideas,  to interact with associations. When people come in contact with organisations, they are more critical and more educated today than they were before. They are interested in what is behind the organisation, what does it stand for, is it socially responsible, can I interact with this organisation? For some organisations this is an opportunity, they use communication to reach their goals faster and more efficiently, while some other organisations are not able to use those possibilities. UBC wants to be a platform and meeting place for exchange of ideas, a source for inspiration, increased awareness, dialogue, networking, a strong voice on regional and European affairs, a respected and recognised partner in the BSR. Communication must be a central part of those different dimensions.

Participants of the Board meeting were divided into four groups and during ten minutes discussed the following questions: what will characterise future communication of UBC ?

how do we want UBC to be perceived in the future ?

Outcomes of discussion at the mini-workshop. UBC shall be present on Facebook. UBC website should be constantly modernised; interested member cities should have a direct access to make updates. UBC website should be placed on every member city website - it means an easy access for citizens to be aware that their city is a member of UBC. Some persons said the UBC bulletin could exist only in the electronic version instead of paper version, in order to save costs. Another suggestion was that we could use mass media in a better way – newspapers, etc. The politicians in the member cities should be better informed about UBC. UBC should be a strong partner for the European institutions as a representative of the cities. UBC should influence the European policies eg. a new EU urban policy. Another group said we should to be the main voice from the BSR - the organisation where you come when you want to contact cities. UBC with potential of 107 member cities should be perceived as a relevant, important partner, credible actor. Work and achievements of UBC should be well promoted. UBC should be also an arena for cooperation in ordinary, everyday issues; an arena to exchange ideas and projects . There are issues which are the same in every country and city. We need to influence local politicians to work internationally.

Representatives of Tendensor thanked the Board members for interesting ideas to the marketing and communication policy.

6.2 Information on Strategy implementation

Mikko Lohikoski, UBC Strategy Coordinator, gave information on strategy implementation status.

Concerning expert exchange program within UBC network, Mr Lohikoski informed that the city of Jyvaskyla has prepared a feasibility study presenting EU funding possibilities to cover the costs of exchange of professionals. The study is attached to the minutes.

Mr Lohikoski added that two weeks earlier he discussed those issues in St. Petersburg with Dirk Ahner, General Director, European Commission DG Regio. Mr Ahner was positive to the concept. In his opinion there would be a broader interest in such expert exchange program so it could be targeted not only on city employees.

Mr Lohikoski proposed that city of Jyvaskyla would continue to work with the UBC expert exchange program. The Board asked the city of Jyvaskyla to carry on the work on expert exchange program.

Mikko Lohikoski recalled the other important issue of the strategy was cooperation with the key Baltic Sea organisations.

He informed the discussions with the Baltic Metropoles Network (BaltMet) have been continued. BaltMet gathers 11 cities, 9 capitals of Baltic Sea countries plus St.Petersburg and Malmö. Most of BaltMet members are also UBC members. Mr Lohikoski informed three issues have been proposed after meeting with BaltMet.

First one is promotion of project cooperation between BaltMet and UBC, to see how we could participate in each other projects. Is there an interest for this, how it should be made, etc. The second proposal was whether we could prepare common public statements on behalf of cities in the BSR. That way it would be more effective. The third proposal was to start to exchange observers at meetings of both organisations. That would require nominating observers who would attend our meetings. This would be agreed by exchanging letters between the Presidents of each network. The UBC President was authorized to continue discussions to set closer cooperation with BaltMet.

Baltic Development Forum (BDF) is another organisation to have a closer contact with. Mr Lohikoski stressed it was a very high level forum, where leading businessmen, prime ministers and ministers participate in the annual summits. President Andersen will be a keynote speaker at the BDF Summit in Gdańsk, 24-26 October 2011. Vice-chairman of BDF Hans Skov Christensen will speak at the UBC General Conference in Liepaja. BDF proposed to UBC to organize a joint event in 2012. Mr Lohikoski said according to the Strategy we shall organize urban forums in the years between GCs, with active participation from decision makers from UBC cities. Next year such forum could be organized with BDF.

Taking into account the Danish EU Presidency in 2012, the BDF summit will be probably held in Copenhagen. The City of Malmo offered to be the first host of such UBC urban forum. Malmo is located closely to Copenhagen. Mikko Lohikoski proposed to continue discussions on organizing this event.

The third network relevant to UBC is Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation (BSSSC). BSSSC is a political network for decentralised authorities (subregions) in the Baltic Sea region. The Western Pomerania is now chairing BSSSC. BSSSC and UBC produced joint policy statements. Mr Lohikoski suggested cooperation with BSSSC should be continued and strengthened in order to consolidate our forces in the BSR.

Another important issue in the strategy is the presence and lobbing in Brussels towards the European organizations. UBC has to be more visible and more active there. Mr Lohikoski said he discussed with the UBC President that after summer there should be convened the meeting of cities which have offices in Brussels. They should form a steering group and agree how to do the lobby work, who should be in charge etc. Mr Lohikoski stressed member cities have resources in Brussels and we should use their knowledge and potential.

Report of Strategy Coordinator is attached to the minutes.

6.3 Discussion

Mikko Lohikoski informed about the meeting of Finnish member cities. Jarkko Virtanen, Deputy Mayor of Turku and the Vice-President of UBC, convened the meeting on 18 May in Turku. Representatives of five cities ie. Helsinki, Tampere, Jyvaskyla, Pori, Porvoo participated. Representatives of the Commission on Environment and Commission on Urban Planning also took part.

They went through what was done to implement the Strategy and what is planned.  Then the cities informed how they see the tasks, what else should be done. It was stressed that UBC has achieved a lot during 20 years. Also the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region creates new possibilities for us. There are opportunities which we can utilize in the future. That requires updating, self evaluation all the time. In the discussion there were also some critical voices about the present state of affairs. Some cities’ representatives said that UBC could do more. Some cities were self-critical about their own involvement in UBC activities, as several cities participate only in one commission.

Mr Lohikoski underlined the atmosphere of the meeting was good. Everybody showed deep commitment to the development of the organization. There was also a discussion about the elections, if there should be a system of rotation of responsibilities or offices, etc. How long should the President hold its position. How the process of elections should be organized. What is the role of the general secretariat, how cities can support the work of the secretariat, how it could be more effective and so on. The cities of Turku and Jyvaskyla promised to bring those issues for a broader discussion to the Executive Board and for processing the best solutions. Mr Lohikoski stressed Finnish cities did not authorize anybody else to speak on their behalf. They think that the open discussion is the best way to develop our organization. Provided that everybody strives towards positive development and strengthening of UBC.

At the meeting it was also decided that the city of Jyvaskyla will continue as a representative of Finland in the UBC Executive Board.

Mr Lohikoski concluded much has been done in UBC, but more can be done. He said UBC is effective organisation, but it has a potential to be even more effective.

Marie-Louise Rönnmark informed that on 15 June 2011 a meeting of Swedish UBC member cities was held in Stockholm. Ms Rönnmark said at the meeting there was a constructive discussion on future development of UBC.

Swedish cities proposed to create a task force on UBC development. The task force could consist of one representative and one substitute, not the Board member, from each Baltic Sea country. The task force would go through the UBC statute, strategy, internal regulations and could propose changes if necessary.

Ms Rönnmark stressed that normally the statute as a fundamental document is adopted for many years and should not be changed every year. There must be a stability in the organization. She expressed an opinion that internal regulations can be changed more often as this is a document adopted by the Board. Ms Rönnmark emphasized UBC is an excellent organization for cities around the Baltic Sea region and should be proud of its achievements. She said discussions about UBC should be taken up in an open way.

Anders Franzen thanked Mikko Lohikoski for information on UBC strategy implementation progress. He said that the city of Vaxjo made a pressure the previous year, because in its opinion not much happened concerning implementation of the strategy in 2010. Mr Franzen sent e-mails on these issues to the Presidium and to the Board. The question was widely discussed during the Board meeting in Lahti, 11 March 2011. Mr Franzen said that he spoke on behalf of the Swedish cities, because Vaxjo represents Sweden in the Board. Mr Franzen has not mentioned the names of the cities. Mr Franzen added there was more strategy related activities in 2011. He supported the idea to create a task force. He expressed opinion there is a need to make amendment in the statute concerning the rotation of UBC authorities.

Soren Revsbaek, Councillor, Naestved, said that examining ourselves from time to time is one of the most important virtues. 20 years of UBC gone by, it could be time now to see how we are working and what we are going to do in the future. He said one can reach his goals faster with higher costs or gradually with moderate costs. He stressed that it’s a virtue for UBC to have as small secretariat as today, instead of the large administration of organization with high membership fees. Though it’s one of the things that could be discussed by the task force.  

He expressed an opinion that perhaps UBC Executive Board should be more political body then it is now, it should be listened to in the EU and by the governments, instead of being only a framework for commissions. On the other hand the Board should not only focus on adopting statements.

Mr Revsbaek supported the idea of creating the task force, however with the scope of General Conference in 2013. He said it is too short time to well prepare potential changes till the General Conference in October. Such proposals require thinking through and discussions. Mr Revsbaek objected the idea that the task force members should be elected outside the members of the Executive Board. He said that it should be up to the countries to elect the representative. They should have possibility to choose a person from the Executive Board if they want so. He also wondered whether it should be politicians or civil servants in the task force. He observed the Executive Board is primarily a political body, and commissions are primarily civil servants. Discussion about the development of UBC is naturally a political question.

Marie-Louise Rönnmark added that there was also a similar discussion in Sweden, that such task force is a political question.

Jorgen Kristiansen, informed that the city of Kristiansand wants to increase its work and commitment in UBC. Kristiansand will join at least one or two commissions, first of all the new Commission on Business Cooperation. Mr Kristiansen supported issues raised by the city of Vaxjo. He said that the city of Kristiansand welcomes discussions about UBC. He expressed an opinion UBC has a great potential which is not fully used. Mr Kristiansen supported the idea of the task force and added that Kristiansand would be ready to participate in it. The task force could check the statute whether it is still up to date after 20 years. There are only two cities from Norway in UBC, but they will handle that, he said.

Gunars Ansins, Vice-Mayor, Liepaja, informed he had discussed the statute with lawyers from Latvian member cities, who said that the statute does not need to be changed, it is still quite modern. However Latvian cities are ready to participate in a discussion on those issues. Another question discussed by the Latvian members was the position on UBC Vice-President. He stressed the Baltic states want to keep the position of Vice-President, in order to sustain a balance between Scandinavia, Poland, Germany, Russia.

Maciej Lisicki, Vice-Mayor, Gdańsk, supported idea of discussions about UBC. He said he has been working with UBC for quite long time, since 1999, and he noticed that one thing which is very crucial and differs us from other organizations is stability. In other organizations people change every year or every second year, different people take part in the meetings, so many discussions have to be started again from the very beginning.  This is not the case of UBC.  In Mr Lisicki’s opinion UBC is the most stable and the best organized organization in the BSR.

Concerning changing the statute Mr Lisicki said that was a political question.  He added that UBC member cities are represented by mayors.  In Poland, and probably in other countries as well, there are no restrictions concerning number of terms of being a mayor. If a person is good, he/she can be elected as many times as the citizens want. That is why there should be no be limitations concerning the elective posts in UBC, he said. Mr Lisicki supported the idea of creating task force but recommended not to act in a hurry.

Jarkko Virtanen said that the topic of task force was not discussed by the Finnish cities in May, but he supported the idea. He admitted that he had followed the discussion on e-mails and he deduced that only about 10-15% of member cities are willing to have changes, concerning  names or statute. At the same time 85% of the members don’t want any changes. Mr Virtanen said he hasn’t seen any proposals from 85% of our member cities. He stressed that changing the names is easy, as the elections of the UBC authorities will be made during the General Conference in October. Changes in the statute are something different. They should be made in an open way, each member city should have possibility to participate in the discussion. Mr Virtanen expressed opinion that member cities in each country should decide which city will be the member of the TF, no matter if it’s already in the Executive Board or not.

Marie-Louise Rönnmark said that listening to discussions at the Swedish members meeting,  she proposes to create a task force in order to go forward.

Toivo Riimaa, Deputy Director, Association of Estonian Cities, said that Estonian cities welcome the idea of balance between Scandinavia, Baltic states, Poland, Germany, Russia. Elections should be made in a democratic way. He supported the idea of the task force.

Jarkko Virtanen agreed the time scope for the task force should be the General Conference in 2013. He suggested after evaluation of TF report, the Executive Board shall propose possible amendments to the General Conference.

Marie-Louise Rönnmark accepted the proposal.

Anders Franzen asked how was the nominations to the elections are being prepared.

Marie-Louise Rönnmark responded that it’s in the internal regulations, point 2.3 “The Executive Board shall be responsible for preparations of UBC elections including the proposals of candidates for all organs of the Union.”

She also said that she talked to the President Per Boedker Andersen by phone and he also accepted the idea of task force. She reminded the letter which was sent by the President to all UBC members by e-mail on 17 May, concerning elections of the UBC authorities.

Anders Franzen could not remember receiving such e-mail.

Paweł Żaboklicki confirmed that the letter was sent by e-mail to all UBC contact persons on 17 May 2011.

Concerning the statute Gunars Ansins said that changes can be proposed but only if necessary.

Marie-Louise Rönnmark agreed, she said it may happen that no changes will be made in the statute, it’s up to the member cities.

Decision:

The Board decided to create a task force to go through UBC key documents ie. Statute, Strategy, Internal Regulations, having in mind further development of the organization. Each country shall elect a representative to the task force. Time scope is the General Conference in 2013. The TF shall provide interim and final report to the Executive Board. The Board, after evaluation of TF report, can propose amendments to the General Conference, if necessary.

7.            XI General Conference in Liepaja, UBC 20th anniversary, 5-6 October 2011

                “Building on the past, heading for the future”

 7.1          Welcome words

Welcome words will be given by Uldis Sesks, Mayor of Liepaja, Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC and representative of the government of Latvia.

Gunars Ansins informed that the President of Latvia decided to form a new parliament, so this September there will be parliamentary elections in Latvia. A new parliament will appoint a new Prime Minister. Mr Ansins said that he asked the President of Latvia if he would be ready to welcome the participants at the UBC General Conference in Liepaja. He responded that it would not be possible because he would participate in another meeting at this time. Mr Ansins assured that there will be another high representative of Latvian authorities.

7.2          Keynote speakers session 1

UBC President has sent invitation to Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy to speak  about ‘EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region: A New Framework for Joint Action’. (After the Board meeting in Karlstad, cabinet of Commissioner Hahn informed he would not be able to come to Liepaja and invitation was passed to General Director Dirk Ahner)

Paavo Lipponen, former Prime Minister of Finland, has been invited to speak about ‘Baltic Sea Region: From Cold War to Arena of Cooperation’. There is no confirmation yet from Mr Lipponen.

Representative of the City of St. Petersburg has been invited to speak about ‘Future prospects for Baltic Sea cooperation’.

Hans Skov Christensen, Vice-Chairman of Baltic Development Forum, will speak on ‘Challenges and possibilities for economic cooperation in the BSR’.

7.3          Keynote speakers session 2

Ilmar Reepalu, Mayor of Malmö, will make presentation ‘How we can be relevant for bigger cities’.

Urve Tiidus, former Mayor of Kuressaare, Member of the Parliament of Estonia, will speak on ‘How we can be relevant for smaller cities’.

Representative of the Commission on Youth Issues will tell ‘How to involve young people more in the UBC work’.

City of Turku representative will speak on the UBC Strategy.

7.4          Official anniversary dinner - speakers

Anders Engström, UBC Honorary President, former UBC President, former Mayor of Kalmar and Michael Bouteiller, former UBC Vice- President and former Mayor of Lübeck, have been invited to speak at the anniversary festive dinner.

7.5          Meetings of UBC Commissions

Working meetings of the commissions will be held on the 2nd conference day in the morning.

 7.6          Conference workshops

On the conference 2nd day, there will be three parallel workshops:

W1. How to strengthen economic attractiveness of cities

Moderator:  new Commission on Business Cooperation

W2. How to master climate change; success factors in local integrated climate management

Moderator: Commission on Environment

W3. How to meet the demographic challenge ; the ageing society

Moderator:  Commission on Health & Social Affairs

Workshops’ speakers are listed in the attached GC programme.

7.7          Auditor’s Report

Auditor’s report for 2009 and 2010 was sent out to the member cities on 9 May 2011.

7.8          Board of Audit Report

 Board of Audit visited UBC Secretariat in Gdańsk on 5 May 2011. Board of Audit report will be presented to the General Conference.

7.9          Absolving the Presidium, Board, Secretary

Ewa Back, UBC Board of Audit, informed that Board of Audit will recommend the General Conference to absolve the Presidium, Executive Board and Secretary General.

7.10       Membership Fees 2012-2013

Due to global economic decline, the Board recommended the General Conference to keep the membership fees on unchanged level in the next 2-year period.

7.11       Executive Board in the next period

In the e-mail communication to all member cities on 17 May 2011 the President asked for candidates to the UBC organs including the Executive Board to be sent by 22 August 2011.

7.12       President and Vice-Presidents in the next period

The following persons are ready to candidate to the Presidium for the next period, if proposed

Per Boedker Andersen, Deputy Mayor of Kolding, for the President

Marie-Louise Rönnmark, Mayor of Umeå, for the 1st Vice-President

Jarkko Virtanen, Deputy Mayor of Turku, for Vice-President

Urve Tiidus, former Mayor of Kuressaare has been elected as member of the parliament of Estonia.

7.13       Board of Audit in the next period

The Board took note the present members of the Board of Audit namely: Ewa Back Councillor Västernorrland, Marta Chełkowska Director of Tourism Department Pomorskie Voivodship, Jukka Vilen Director of City Office Kemi, are ready to candidate to the BoA for the next period, if proposed.

7.14       Secretariat in the next period

Mayor of Gdańsk Paweł Adamowicz sent a letter offering to host the UBC Secretariat in Gdańsk in the next period.

 7.15       Auditor in the next period

The licensed auditing company Bilans from Gdańsk is ready to make an audit for 2011-2012, if proposed.

Jarkko Virtanen observed that letter from the President from 17 May 2011 concerning the General Conference programme and elections was sent out without signature and not on the UBC letterhead. He proposed to send out the letter once again with the signature and on the UBC letterhead. The Board requested the President to do so.

7.16       Venue of the XII UBC General Conference in autumn 2013

Pawel Zaboklicki reminded that two cities applied to host the General Conference in 2011 – Liepaja and Mariehamn. Liepaja was chosen because Latvia was the only Baltic Sea country which never hosted the General Conference. Mariehamn expressed an interest to host the General Conference in 2013.

Mr Albert Edman, City of Umea, reminded that the city of Turku hosted Nordic Council of Ministers conference on Sustainable Development in the Baltic Sea region in January - February 2011, as a part of the European Capital of Culture. The City of Umea will host this conference in 17-19 September 2013.

The conference will be organised by the Swedish  government and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions together with the City of Umea. The city of Umea looks for cooperation with UBC at the conference. Mr Edman said that this conference and the UBC General Conference should not be held at the same time.

The Board decided to recommend the General Conference in Liepaja to hold the XII GC in Mariehamn.

7.17       UBC Cultural Prize 2011

The UBC Cultural Prize 2011 will be granted in Liepaja at the General Assembly.

7.18       Practical information from the conference host

Gunars Ansins said that Liepaja warmly awaits all member cities in October and underlined that all preparations are going well and according to the schedule.

Mr Ansins proposed Mr Uldis Grava as moderator for the General Conference. Mr Grava was a member of the Saeima (Parliament of Latvia) , member of Liepāja City Council, Latvia Television general director, Radio Free Europe marketing development director, Newspapers Association of America Vice president and marketing director, Association of Latvians in America chairman.

The Board accepted Mr Grava as conference moderator.

Mikko Lohikoski informed Commission on Environment would like to organise two workshops on climate change instead of one. Vice-President Ronnmark agreed with the proposal.

8.            Application from the working group (WG) on Local Safety to create the Commission on Local Safety.

City of Gdańsk Municipal Guard proposed to start cooperation between cities in the field of public order and local safety in 2009.

In November 2009 Gdańsk Municipal Guard distributed questionnaire on safety and public order issues amongst UBC members. 34 member cities completed the survey. The questionnaire confirmed that public order and safety were main priorities for examined cities.

The first meeting took place on 25-27 March 2010 in Gdańsk. The meeting was attended by representatives of nine cities: Botkyrka, Elbląg, Gdańsk, Nacka, Riga, Sopot, Tukums, Tallinn, Vilnius.  The cities signed the letter of intent to create the working group on local safety & public order.

At the 58th UBC Executive Board meeting on 4-5 June 2010 in Trelleborg, Leszek Walczak, Chief of the Gdańsk Municipal Guard, presented the letter of intent, framework of the action plan 2010-2011 and the budget. The Board approved the budget and authorized the group to continue its work.

The working group hold also meetings on 13-15 October 2010 in Riga and on 14-15 April in Vilnius. The number of members increased in 2011 up to 15 cities.

Cities members of the working group applied to the Board to transform the WG into the Commission on Local Safety, application attached.

Decision:

The Board decided to transform the WG on Local Safety into the Commission on Local Safety and asked the General Conference for approval.

9.            Latest conferences attended by UBC representatives.

UBC was recently represented at the following conferences:

- 20th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, 22-24 March 2011, Strasbourg, Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC

- 2nd Assises on Decentralised Cooperation, Brussels, 29-30 March 2011, Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC

- 89th Plenary Session of the Committee of the Regions, 31 March- 1 April  2011, Brussels, Per Bødker Andersen, President of UBC

- IV Nevsky International Ecological Congress, St. Petersburg, 16-17 May 2011, Urve Tiidus, UBC Vice-President

- European Maritime Day “Putting people first”, Gdańsk, 19-20 May 2011, Paweł Żaboklicki, UBC Secretary General

- Les Rencontres Annual Meeting „Baltic Sea region cultural actors: From trans-regional cooperation to European diffusion“ Tallinn, 9-12 June 2011, Jarkko Virtanen, UBC Vice-President, Deputy Mayor of Turku

The Board took note of the information. Reports from the conferences are attached to the minutes.

10.          Any other business.

10.1       Presentation from Gotland on Node G project. /www.nodg.se/

Anna Hrdlicka, Project Manager at Hob AB, Councillor of Gotland, made a presentation about Node G project. Node G is a project aiming at establishing a cross disciplinary arena working with young professionals from different academic backgrounds: designers, architects, landscape architects, planners, engineers etc.

Ms Hrdlicka informed that they work on the basis of concept "Summer Design Office", owned by the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation. There are many SDOs in Sweden, but the one of the Node G project is the only one in Sweden working with theme "built environment". Usually the Summer Design Office lasts for 7-8 weeks during summer. It was done three times in Gotland in 2006, 2007, and 2008 and once in Botkyrka in 2010.

The Summer Design Office generally consist of 4-8 young professionals - planers, architects, surveyors, engineers, designer, etc. who work on questions received from municipalities or project owners. Half of the group is Swedish, half comes from other countries. The problem is tested from different angles and the municipality / project owner receives number of options. Some of the projects have been implemented and some have served as inspiration for change and development.

Ms Hrdlicka said the Node G project welcomes participants from all over the Baltic Sea region, as young professionals, as project owners and as financiers.

Decision:

The Board asked the Commission on Urban Planning to take contact with project coordinators and eventually cooperate in project implementation.

10.2       Letter from CECICN to Dirk Ahner, Director General DG Regio, concerning White Paper on Territorial Cooperation

Secretary General Paweł Żaboklicki reminded the Conference of European Cross-border and Interregional City Networks (CECICN) comprises four cities networks namely UBC, MedCities, Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities, Forum of Adriatic & Ionian Cities and two cross-border networks: MOT, RIET. On 17 May 2011 CECICN hold a working meeting with Dirk Ahner, Director General of DG Regio. A letter summarising the meeting is attached to the minutes. Currently CECICN concentrates its work on future EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020. Until the end of 2011, CECICN will prepare a White Paper on Territorial Cooperation, involving the European Commission, European Parliament, Committee of the Regions at different stages of the process.

During 1st half of 2012, CECICN will organise a European Conference on Territorial Cooperation foreseen to be a part of the program of the future Danish EU Presidency. The conference will be the opportunity to present the White Paper and to launch a debate with stakeholders, in the presence of Commissioner Hahn, DG Region and other EU institutions.

Decision

The Board authorized the Presidium to appoint delegates representing UBC in the work of CECICN.

10.3       Question from CIT water urban management AB. /www.urbanwater.se/

CIT Urban Water Management AB is a consulting company working with, mostly Swedish, municipalities to provide decision-support for sustainable water management.

The company aims to establish a Baltic Region Users’ Association for Sustainable Wastewater Decision-making. It shall be a network of practitioners working with a comprehensive view of urban water management in transition areas within the Baltic Sea region. The network will share experiences and knowledge; the work will be documented and posted on an internet forum to expand the reach of the project.

The project will be structured around two work packages. The aim of work package 1 is to create a network of users working with systems perspectives on wastewater management. Work package 2 will be focused on providing the tools to assist them in decision-making.

At the beginning the network will focus on collaboration between Sweden and Estonia.

The company turned to UBC with a proposal to run this project under the umbrella of our organisation as a complementary network, instead of establishing a new network.

Decision:

The Board asked the Commission on Environment to take contact and eventually cooperate with project coordinators in creation of network of wastewater decision makers in coastal transition areas.

10.4       Baltic Cities Bulletin, 20th anniversary of UBC foundation

Pawel Zaboklicki informed the new Baltic Cities Bulletin entitled “Building on the past, heading for the future” has just come out. It highlights the tremendous changes in UBC cities, once cut off from the East-West contacts, now active in the international cooperation. The Bulletin presents the cities’ achievements, projects and initiatives that contributed to the development of the whole region and integration of Baltic cities and countries. The bulletin was printed in 5800 copies and the cost was 2130 eur.

10.5       Two projects from Rostock.

Pawel Zaboklicki informed that city of Rostock asked UBC to support two project applications to South Baltic Programme: ‘BCP – Business Culture Partnerships’ and ELMOS – Electro mobility in the south Baltic area.

The aim of the first project is to establish Business Culture Partnerships by setting up an international cooperation and exchange network of partner cities and other interested ones. Concepts of BCP structures and events will be jointly developed in an international consortium  of partners, cultural and business actors.

The ELMOS project aims at promoting the invention of electro mobility in the small and medium sized cities of the south Baltic area, with a special focus on offers that can complement public transport chains and services.

The deadline for submitting applications was before the Board meeting in Karlstad. The President decided UBC would support the projects and would become an associated partner.

11.          Next meeting of the Executive Board, Liepaja, 4 October 2011.

The Board decided to hold its next meeting on the eve of the General Conference in Liepaja, 4 October 2011.

 

Marie-Louise Ronnmark                                                                                             Paweł Żaboklicki

Chairperson                                                                                                              Secretary

 

Ewa Back                                                                                                                Gunars Ansins

Adjuster                                                                                                                   Adjuster