Minutes of the 71st Meeting of the Executive Board
Växjö, 28–30 October 2014
1. Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda.
Per Bødker Andersen, the President of the Union, opened the meeting. Mr Andersen expressed his gratitude to the hosts for inviting the UBC Executive Board to hold its 71st meeting in Växjö. The meeting adopted the agenda, attached to the minutes.
2. Election of two persons who, together with the President, will check the minutes.
Per Schöldberg, the Deputy Mayor of Växjö and Hasan Habib, Chair of the Commission on Youth Issues, Turku, were elected to check the minutes together with the President.
3. Presentation of the city of Växjö.
Per Schöldberg made a presentation of the city of Växjö.
Växjö, called the Greenest City in Europe has 85,822 inhabitants, and a positive population development since the 1940’s.
It is a city of growth, culture, learning, trade and commerce. It is also Sweden’s leading sports municipality 2013 which accommodates very strong elite sporting activities, good support for sports for young people, as well as modern arenas and stadiums. Newly built Arenastad in Växjö is one of Sweden’s best sports areas .
Växjö is also home to Linnaeus University - an important collaborative partner both as a study centre for elite sportsmen and women, and for the sport-related research that is carried out there. The municipality has a very positive business climate, a low level of illness and is an attractive place to live, according to complementary surveys.
There is a vision, long-term goals and measurable goals for each area together with an environmental policy. Environmental programme includes local goals within three areas. Live life – purchase of provisions/waste; Our nature – lakes/biological diversity/ green structure; Fossil Fuel Free Växjö – energy/transport.
Växjö region is one of Scandinavia’s leading entrepreneurial regions and 2nd in the population growth league. It had some 400 new homes in 2013/2014. It also has several strong growth industries, e.g. IT, Wood strategy: Kingdom of Furniture, IKEA, Södra, design, International airport and Growing Linnaeus University.
Business life in the region is rich and multi-faceted with over 8,000 companies forming a dynamic mixture of size and industries. One of the industries with the greatest growth is company services/IT with some 600 companies including Volvo Construction Equipment AB, Combitech AB, Södra Timber AB HK, Visma Spcs AB or Getinge Disinfection AB.
Presentation is attached to the minutes.
4. Business engagement in the regional sustainability development through Triple Helix cooperation, Niklas Nillroth, Volvo.
Mr Nillroth stressed that the Volvo Group’s vision is to become the world leader in sustainable transport solutions. Close collaboration with society is a prerequisite to reach the objectives and ultimately the vision. Volvo’s core values are quality, safety and environmental care.
Mr Nillroth presented the engagement of the company to the environmental issues. Volvo Construction Equipment Braås is the first production site within the industry powered with only fossil-free energy.
Volvo CE is one of WWF Climate Savers partners. The Company committed to reduce CO2 emissions from all plants and machines by more than 15M tons (2009 to 2014). Volvo CE also actively participates in Earth Hour.
Mr Nillroth underlined active, close collaboration with municipality of Växjö. Mr Nillroth informed that Volvo is one of the members of the Sustainable Småland, a Triple Helix regional sustainability development organization, which creates added value for the members and the region by:
- Continuous strengthening of the joint sustainability competence
- Active member participation in innovative and challenging sustainability projects
Members represent several different societal sectors and industries.
Presentation is attached to the minutes.
5. Different aspects of city-water relationship, outcome of the seminar “Urban Streams” held by the Commission on Urban Planning and Commission on Environment in Riga, 14-17 September 2014.
Björn Grönholm, Commission on Environment Head of Secretariat, Turku, informed the Board about outcomes of the meeting.
On 14-17 September 2014 50 participants from 29 cities took part in the seminar in Riga. The city of Riga decided to focus on how to improve one of the biggest challenges they face. Namely, on how a good waterfront public space should look like, how to adapt river edges for flooding and storm water management, how people want to use urban waterfronts and on how should the environment around the water spaces look like. The seminar addressed different aspects of city-water relationship and tried to find the answers to questions by working on specific territories in Riga.
With the previous UBC seminar in mind, this year the same three territories that were analyzed last time were selected in order to ensure planning continuity. All three territories have played an important role throughout the city’s history and are centrally located. Zunda and Kileveina Channels are located on the left bank the River Daugava, while the islands can be found right opposite the city centre and the most historical part of Riga.
In the first, lecture part of the seminar, experts from cities of Riga, Malmö, Elva and Turku presented topics such as ‘Tools for storm water management’, ‘Climate change in Riga’, ‘Storm water management in Malmo’, ‘Landscape planning’ etc. Also experiences of ‘Regeneration and waterfront development in London’ were shared by an external expert giving a completely different perspective to the issue.
In the workshop part of the seminar, the three areas mentioned earlier were closely studied to decide in what way they should continue with their planning. The participants took part in a tour studying the areas, checking potential profiles, ideas and the problems of the area, as well as talking to property owners.
The results of the meeting were presented for public and authorities of Riga City Council Development and Strategic Department, and published on their social media profiles. They will also be included in the new Territorial Plan for Riga.
Presentation is attached to the minutes.
6. Information from the UBC Task Force on youth employment and well-being, outcome of the meeting in Karlskrona, 6-7 October 2014.
Mikko Lohikoski, UBC Strategy Coordinator, on behalf of Matti Mäkela, Task Force Chair, Turku, informed the Board about the progress of the Task Force work.
UBC General Conference in Mariehamn, 1–4 October in 2013 decided to establish a Task Force on youth employment and well-being. Discussions in Mariehamn clearly indicated that UBC member cities and their partner organisations possess a vast experience in these issues. What is more, it proved that they are interested to work together in order to seek practical and effective solutions to tackle youth unemployment and marginalization. And so was the main theme of the Task Force meeting in Karlskrona.
The participants of the meeting expressed hopes that the economic situation in Europe would slowly start improving. They also noticed that there are some positive trends regarding the issue of youth unemployment and well-being, and new methods and concepts are being developed on how to guide youngsters to find either a place to study, or a place for training.
Issues such as how to motivate young people, what tools can be developed, how to approach those who are in danger of dropping out, how to promote social entrepreneurship and social economics which would be supportive towards the goal were also approached at the meeting of Task Force in Karlskrona. The Task Force is now collecting data on those issues from member cities.
Task Force has met three times during the year 2014: in Tampere in March, in Turku in June and in Karlskrona in October. The Task Force is preparing a report that will be discussed at the next TF meeting which will be held in Riga 29 - 30 January next year. The final report will be presented at the General Conference in Gdynia in October 2015.
The interim report is attached to the minutes.
7. “Non-formal learning, social exclusion and partnership building”, outcome of the meeting of the Commission on Youth Issues in Riga, 8-11 October 2014.
Hasan Habib, Chairman of the Commission on Youth Issues, Turku, informed the Board about the outcomes of the meeting.
30 young people and civil servants gathered on 8–11 October 2014 in Riga to discuss and explore the issues of non-formal learning and social exclusion. At the meeting they also discussed commission participation in the UBC General Conference, which will be held next year in Gdynia. Fourteen cities (Falun, Gdynia, Guldborgsund, Gävle, Jõgeva, Karlstad, Klaipeda, Kolding, Kristiansand, Liepāja, Riga, Tallinn, Turku and Valbo) from eight different countries were represented at the meeting.
The participants of the meeting had various understandings of how to define the problem of social exclusion, but they all agreed that close and intense cooperation is needed to face this challenge.
The participants had a chance to hear about the different challenges related to youth issues i.e. How young people are out of institutional support and how they face the lack of income, knowledge, skills, opportunities and motivation.
Commission on Youth Issues formed a working group to plan and execute the work of the next youth conference to be held in parallel with the UBC General Conference in Gdynia.
The commission decided to have their next meeting in Kolding at the end of April or the beginning of May 2015.
8. Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans as outcome of the conference of the Commission on Transportation, Gdynia, 23-24 October 2014.
Monika Pawlińska, Foreign Relations Department, Gdynia , presented the outcome of the conference of the Commission on Transportation.
On 23-24 October 2014 Gdynia played host to the UBC and the City of Gdynia Joint Conference entitled „Baltic Sea Region advancing towards Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning” organized within CIVITAS DYN@MO European project.
25 international speakers from six European countries shared their knowledge on SUMP development over two days of presentations and workshops.
The first day of the conference was divided into three main panels: “SUMP as a complex approach to mobility planning”, “SUMP ripple effect across borders - experiences and future funding” and “Local scale mobility planning - City of Gdynia case study”.
The second day of the conference was focused on competence building and methodologies supporting the SUMP development process. Starting with the panel on “Competence building regarding SUMPs in Europe”, covering the subjects of the BSR and South-Eastern Europe Competence Centres on SUMP, followed by interactive session during which participants talked about weaknesses and strengths of mobility planning in their cities and discussed possibility for improvement of competence building on local level. After the panel concerning tools and methodologies “Support in SUMP process from EU projects and initiatives”, the participants took part in two workshops.
68 representatives of European cities and institutions participated in the conference increasing their knowledge on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans.
9. Follow-up of the UBC statement against trafficking of women and children.
Linda Gustafsson, Commission on Gender Equality, City of Umeå, presented the follow-up of the UBC statement against trafficking of women and children.
The UBC Executive Board at its 45th meeting in Kaunas in 2006 adopted a statement against trafficking of women and children. As it is stated, trafficking and prostitution is an act of men’s violence against women and children and therefore reinforces gender inequality.
On 12 May 2014 the Commission on Gender Equality sent out to all UBC contact persons two follow–up questions:
- What action has been taken by your city in combating trafficking of women and children since 2006?
- Does your city have an action plan for working with gender equality and/or trafficking of women and children?
7 UBC member cities responded: Kristiansand, Växjö, Gdynia, Arendal, Kristianstad, Karlstad, Umeå. They informed about different actions and activities taken to minimize this problem. The activities are described in the presentation attached to the minutes.
Since only seven cities responded, the question of communication is becoming more and more important. The Board stressed that more cities should respond to questionnaire on such important matter.
Marie-Louise Rönnmark, 1st Vice-President of UBC, Umeå, stressed that since it is a very important issue and a question of Baltic morals we should put it on the agenda again.
10. Presentation of FP7 SmartCities project READY, city of Växjö
Bo Hjälmefjord, Project Developer, Växjö, presented the newest project that contributes to the sustainable and smart development in the city.
READY (Resource Efficient cities implementing ADvanced smart citY solutions) is a FP7 SmartCities project starting in December 2014. The participating cities are Växjö, Aarhus and Kaunas, altogether there are 23 partners in the project.
The project involves innovative actions to make the city smart in terms of energy use. They cover:
• Retrofitting of dwellings and administrative buildings
• District heating and cooling energy supply
• Electricity distribution grid
Within the project, Växjö will implement a number of innovative solutions in the city buildings, e.g. new energy efficient windows, new mechanical ventilation with high-efficient heat recovery, extra isolation of attic joists, improved and monitored building air tightness. Also, electric vehicles and bikes and a charge station will be available.
As for district heating and cooling energy supply, Växjö will undertake a number of actions to make the energy production more effective and to minimize the heat losses.
Presentation is attached to the minutes.
Mikko Lohikoski, UBC Strategy Coordinator, reported about the development of the Baltic Sea Urban Forum for Smart Cities (BUF), which had been initiated by the UBC, in cooperation with the Baltic Development Forum. This project had received seed money from the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. A concept had been prepared, under the leadership of the Smart City Lab of Tartu, which has acted as representative of the UBC, and the report of this project has been approved by the seed money facility.
Mikko Lohikoski considered, that the BUF initiative offers great potential for the development of UBC activities, especially the new Commissions, and should be actively continued. The Board decided that the UBC will continue its active work for the implementation of BUF in the spirit of the report.
11. Consolidation process of the UBC Commissions.
Mikko Lohikoski, Strategy Coordinator, presented the Proposal from the Task Force on Commissions' consolidation.
The UBC General Conference in Mariehamn authorized and obliged the Executive Board to decide on the new Commissions' structure to enter into force on 1 January 2015. Having taken into consideration the GC resolution, Commissions’ and member cities’ proposals, and opportunities created for example by the EUSBSR, the Task Force, appointed by the Executive Board, submitted the
proposal to create Commissions thematically and operationally. As a result, they will be more relevant, viable and active, attracting more member cities. The improvement of efficiency of newly structured Commissions was strongly emphasized.
Mr Lohikoski presented the proposal of the Task Force to create the following Commissions:
- Planning Cities - working on integrated planning for sustainable, inclusive, attractive and prospering cities, through peer review exchange;
- Sustainable cities - dealing with environment, energy, smart urban mobility;
- Safe cities - concerned with civil protection issues - prevention, preparedness, response, restoration;
- Youthful cities - engaged in promoting interests of the young;
- Smart and prospering cities - dealing with business development, employment, co-creation with researchers/universities, procurement policies, links between education and the labour market, smart citizens and governance, etc.;
- Cultural cities - working on issues linked to attractiveness, creativity, cultural heritage including maritime heritage, etc.;
- Inclusive and healthy cities - engaged in smart social and health services and new solutions, social cohesion and inclusiveness, diversity, equality, healthy habits including sport, etc.
Following the thorough discussion the Board approved the TF proposal. The member cities will be asked to nominate a representative to each Commission they are going to participate during the period 2015-2017. Also their proposals on the possible office holders in the Commissions, as well as possible specific themes to be included in the Commissions' Plans of Action will be invited. Only those Commissions which receive sufficient participation from the member cities will be established.
In addition, the Board decided to discuss and decide at its next meeting on how to promote gender equality goals best. The city of gender equality issues within the UBC. The Board stressed the gender equality is a cross-sectoral issue and should be taken into account in the work of every commission.
12. Preparation of the XIII UBC General Conference in Gdynia, 27-30 October 2015.
Per Bødker Andersen asked the participants for ideas and proposals regarding the theme of General Conference that is to take place on 27-30 October 2015 in Gdynia.
Eva Hjälmered, Oskarshamn, paid attention to the issue of making our cities more attractive so people will stay or come back there after studies.
Marie-Louise Rönnmark asked a question of how we are working for sustainability and the future through culture.
Björn Grönholm stressed the importance of a challenge of integrating senior generation into society.
Mikko Lohikoski suggested that the content of GC planning should go hand in hand with the issue of preparation of new strategy and that we should define few key issues for our organization.
Hasan Habib proposed to pay attention to demographic issues and how we can relate them to the social well-being and entrepreneurship.
President Per Bødker Andersen made a suggestion to consult the cities what do they think is a big challenge. He also suggested that the General Conference could be an exchange of challenges around Baltic Sea area.
President Andersen informed that it has been proposed that UBC / CECICN seminar on Smart Cities could take place during the General Conference in Gdynia. The Board endorsed the idea and suggested to invite other networks to participate in Smart Cities seminar.
Mr Andersen asked the Board to authorise the Presidium to form a working group for the preparations of the new Strategy and the General Conference in Gdynia.
Joanna Leman, Gdynia Foreign Relations Department, on behalf of the Mayor of Gdynia Mr Wojciech Szczurek, warmly invited all member cities to attend the General Conference in Gdynia on 27–30 October 2015.
Ms Leman, made a presentation of the city of Gdynia.
The city is conveniently located at the crossroads of international transportation routes. The Port of Gdynia is a world-class cruise destination. More than 30 ships make an average of nearly 90 calls to the city annually bringing over 100 000 first-time and repeat visitors.
Gdynia is also the Sailing Capital of Poland. Many times it has hosted international sailing events, welcomed the largest and most beautiful tall-ships from all over the world. The most important regattas are also organized in the city.
Gdynia is a young city with the buildings in a modernism style. The city’s centre lies at the foot of the Gulf of Gdańsk. A popular walking destination is a pier leading into the sea – the Southern Pier. Gdynia is a vibrant city with many events, where the most famous one is Open’er Festival – one of the best and the biggest European music festivals, held each year in July.
The UBC General Conference will be held in the Pomeranian Science and Technology Park in Gdynia.
Gdynia along with historical Gdańsk and a popular seaside resort Sopot form Tricity, an urban area which is a great tourist, cultural and business destination.
Presentation is attached to the minutes.
13. Development of UBC Communication and Marketing, including short and middle term targets. Irene Pendolin, UBC Communications manager.
Irene Pendolin, UBC Communications manager, Turku, presented UBC communications and marketing Plan of Action.
According to UBC Communication and Marketing Strategy the main goals of UBC communications and marketing are:
- Internal communications: Support the internal exchange and diffusion of ideas, inspiration and best practice within the UBC network of cities.
- Brand building: Establish UBC as a credible, future-oriented and relevant, leading Baltic Sea Region network, and a preferred partner in thematic issues that relate to e.g. urban development and city planning, sustainable cities, competitiveness of cities, social cohesiveness and integration etc.
- Lobbying: Help the UBC member cities to further their policy-advocacy goals vis-à-vis national government and the EU by leveraging its role as a major northern European network of more than 100 member cities.
- Marketing the BSR: Promote and market the Baltic Sea Region as a dynamic, competitive, prosperous and safe region.
According to the strategy, UBC’s brand promise and core message should be:
”Union of the Baltic Cities is the leading network in Northern Europe, working to foster sustainable, smart and safe cities”
Core values should be reliability, friendliness, professionalism and orientation for the future. As well as that, themes should be prioritized and used in all communications and marketing: The Sustainable City – The Smart City – The Safe City.
Out of some long term priorities of the plan there are:
- developing UBC website
- possibility of creating UBC intranet – internal website
- strengthening the UBC brand among internal and external stakeholders
- being active in social media
Mid-term priorities and means are:
- formulating a detailed plan and timeframe for 2015
- renewing UBC logo, visualities, typography
- building up monthly digital newsletter
- developing/updating UBC contact lists, cloud services, video conferences and webinars / internal communications
- appointing people responsible for communications from the commissions and the member cities
- re-evaluating the content and possibly lowering the cost of circulation of the Baltic Cities Bulletin
- adapting operational UBC plan for communications in the social media
As for the time frame, first evaluation of the communications and marketing implementation period is to take place in October 2015, and the second one in October 2016.
The Action Plan is attached to the minutes.
14. Perspectives for BSR cooperation and the role of cities.
Mikko Lohikoski stressed the importance of discussing the role of cities within the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
He pointed out that we should look for the best way to convene the cities which are interested in the implementation of this strategy.
He also suggested that there should be a meeting of the cities which are working within the EU Strategy and that we should consult and discuss how to develop UBC initiatives in different fields.
The Board agreed the role of cities and associations should be strengthened in the Strategy implementation process.
15. Lake restoration initiatives of Växjö. River Basin Management (EU water directive – what is the relevance for the Baltic Sea region, socio economic and ecological aspects), Andreas Hedrén.
Andreas Hedrén highlighted the lake restoration initiatives in Växjö. The aim of the projects is to enable inhabitants to use the lakes within the city for swimming and water sports.
The municipality has over 200 lakes of various sizes. Lake water quality (eutrophication) has been a critical factor for the city (health and expansion). The increase of population, domestic sewage and industrial waste water resulted in progressive eutrophication. The intense bloom of blue-green algae was observed annually in the lakes. Expanding growth of reeds and killing of fish due to oxygen efficiency proceeded.
One of the most successful actions taken to improve lake water quality was dredging in the LakesTrummen and Växjösjön, quickly followed by Lake Södra Bergundasjön. As a result, there was a
significant decrease in phytoplankton biomass from the start of restoration.
The goal of these actions is a reduction in the phosphorous content, improved water transparency and less algal bloom. This is achievable by purifying the water that runs into the lakes, cultivating useful plants and, more importantly, treating the bottom sediment with a substance that is normally
used to purify wastewater and drinking water.
The Action Plan 2014-2020 includes three different types of actions: 1. Reduced nutrient load (Phosphorous); 2. Stabilize Phosphorous in lake sediment; 3. Improved biological structure (more Submerged vegetation, less algae).
Presentation is attached to the minutes.
16. Presentation of the results and outcomes of the ELMOS-project, a programme funded by the south Baltic Programme to promote electric vehicles in smaller cities, Pär Wallin.
Pär Wallin informed the Board members about the outcomes of the ELMOS-project in the city of Växjö.
The project promotes the invention of electric mobility in the small & medium sized towns & cities of the South Baltic Area. In this way it contributes to reduce CO2 emissions and improve urban living conditions. The overall idea of the project is to develop and partly introduce electric mobility in the five participating municipalities: Karlskrona, Malbork, Rostock, Trąbki Wielkie and Växjö.
The special focus of ELMOS lies on intermodal offers that complement (public) transport chains, and for which no practical examples exist in the region yet. The strategic objective of this approach is to induce a shift of mobility behaviour in towns & cities towards use of cleaner ways of transport as alternative to individual car traffic.
Växjö decided to introduce E-mobility with a system of pedelecs in combination with public transport.
From March 2013 to July 2014 450 employees have used the 30 pedelecs for 3 – 4 weeks as their own bicycle. 4 300 others have tried the pedelecs. 10 % bought a pedelec after the lending period.
The result of the project was that the biking habits have changed. The pedelecs replaced car driving with about 11,500 km in total. 80% of users biked more with pedelec than with their ordinary bike. 70 % of users biked longer distances with pedelec than with their ordinary bike. None of those who bought a pedelec commutes with car.
Also, a bicycle garage, equipped with charging facilities for pedelecs, lockers and a compressor pump for bicycle tires, was built to encourage this concept.
The project is funded by the South Baltic Programme.
Presentation is attached to the minutes.
17. Any other business.
17.1 Projects Barbecue Festival and Moto Festival, proposals from UBC partner Charlotta Valley.
Waldemar Sypiański, the Vice Chairman of the Commission on Business and Tourism, Ustka, on behalf of UBC Partner member Charlotta Valley (http://www.dolinacharlotty.pl/en), invited the Board to hold the 73rd Board Meeting in Charlotta Valley on 10 – 14 June 2015.
In parallel with the Board meeting the Baltic BBQ Championships, in which representatives of city halls, restaurants and catering schools from UBC cities will partake, would take place. This year Charlotta Valley, under the aegis of UBC, hosted European and Polish BBQ Championship.
The Board authorized the Presidium to decide on this matter.
17.2 Business & Tourism Commission cooperation treaty with the University of Rostock.
The cooperation treaty is based on the EU funded project Generation Balt, which aims to link maritime education with the changing job market for a new generation of Baltic Sea experts. It was signed September 2014 between Prof. Dr. Gerhard Graf, Head of Department Maritime Systems, University of Rostock and Wolfgang Schmidt, Chairman of the UBC Business & Tourism Commission.
The full text of the cooperation treaty is attached to the minutes.
17.3 UBC-Kiel sailing network project.
The Union of the Baltic Cities Business & Tourism Commission and Kiel Marketing at the kick-off meeting in September 2014 in Kiel have set up the UBC – Kiel Sailing Network project. Its aim is to raise the potential of the connection of water sports, location marketing, tourist attraction and investment promotion. The project description is attached to the minutes.
17.4 Statement at the 8th VASAB Ministerial Conference, Tallinn, 26.09.2014.
Union of the Baltic Cities wants to see a dynamic, prosperous, democratic and stable European Baltic Sea Region in successful and sustainable economic, political, social, environmental and cultural development process, moving towards closer cooperation and integration. Therefore, it invited VASAB to co-shape the new “Sustainable Baltic Cities 2020” programme, for adoption at UBC General Conference in autumn 2015. Topics preliminarily discussed include among others green urban economies, climate-smart cities and partnerships for knowledge-based development.
The UBC congratulated VASAB on the twentieth anniversary of its first common strategic document “Visions and Strategies around the Baltic Sea 2010”. Many of the ideas in that document have been implemented. UBC also contributed to this process.
The statement is attached to the minutes.
The meeting documents are available at:
Per Bødker Andersen Paweł Żaboklicki
Per Schöldberg Hasan Habib