Alone we will not go any further. Interreg South Baltic Programme at the 10th EUSBSR Annual Forum.

Nearly 800 participants from governments, international associations, non-governmental organisations, universities, local and regional administrations and businesses gathered at the 10th EUSBSR Annual Forum. The main topic of this year's Forum was “Circular and sharing economy as an answer to demographic changes and environmental challenges in the Baltic Sea Region”. For two days, during numerous plenary sessions and seminars, new trends and opportunities in the Baltic Sea Region have been discussed.

The Interreg South Baltic Programme together with the Poland-Russia and the Central Baltic Programmes contributed to the event with a seminar “Industrial symbiosis as a key to the circular economy in the Baltic Sea Region”. The main aim of the seminar was to present how the network of diverse organisations can foster eco-innovation and long-term culture change, create and share mutually profitable transactions to improve business and technical processes.

The seminar started with welcoming words from Dominika Butkiewicz, Head of the Joint Secretariat, followed by projects’ presentations. The first in the order, CAR - Creating Automotive Renewal, was presented by Mats Larsson from the Industrial Development Centre South, Sweden, the lead partner of the project. The CAR focuses on the development of electromobility system. It clusters various stakeholders, such as cars manufacturers, financing and legal authorities, business development and payment services providers, as well as specialists who build charging infrastructure. – Circularity is about transforming traditional transport with oil power into electric. Batteries are much more durable – says Mats Larsson.

The second project, RBR - Reviving Baltic Resilience, the lead partner of which is Gdansk University of Technology (GUT) resented Kamil Zajaczkowski from the Acceleravia Capital, a financial consultancy firm based in Sweden. Kamil presented proactive methods and technologies which prevent hazardous and unwanted pollutions of the Baltic Sea. – The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s most regulated seas but at the same time the most polluted – admitted Kamil Zajaczkowski – RBR aims at raising cross-border awareness of available green technologies to prevent pollutants, such as sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides, microplastics, oil and heavy metals reaching the Baltic Sea.

Merike Niitepõld, Head of Managing Authority, brought the audience closer to the NUTRINFLOW project from the Interreg Central Baltic Programme. The NUTRINFLOW implements more effective and acceptable measures to reduce nutrients, hazardous substances and toxins inflows to the surface waters and the Baltic Sea from agriculture.  It is defined as holistic water management and is implemented through basic drainage, local drainage and environmental water management.

Adam Cenian PhD, from the Szewalski Institute of Fluid-Flow Machinery, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland, introduced the audience to the next project, also lead by the Gdansk University of Technology, WASTEMAN - Integrated Sustainable Waste Management Systems decreasing pollution discharges in the South Baltic area. Within the WASTEMAN project specialists work on innovative methods of communal waste utilisation. Biowaste, recycling, fermentation, zero waste system, circular economy are keywords for the strategy for decreasing pollution in the Baltic Sea region.

The Poland-Russia Cross-border Cooperation Programme was represented by prof. Antoni Jerzy Rokicki from the University of Gdansk, the Department for the Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology. He described the process of his research works on the development of technologies for the rehabilitation of the ecosystem of the Vistula Lagoon.

The projects’ presentations concluded prof. Jan Hupka, Head of the Department of Chemical Technology at the Gdansk University of Technology with a brief demo of the UBIS - Urban Baltic Industrial Symbiosis project which is also led by the GUT. His words of introduction to the panel session emphasised the importance of the circular economy, its principles and procedures preceding. Technological principles such as the best use of energy and raw materials, recycling, green chemistry, green engineering, and urban mining all lead to industrial symbiosis. The panellist discussed its key role to the establishment of the circular economy in the Baltic Sea region. Among participants of the panel discussion were: William Hogland – Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden; Kristoffer Klim – the Sustainable Business Hub, Sweden; Paula Makuch-Bursiewicz – the Voivodeship Inspectorate of Environmental Protection in Gdansk, Poland; Kamil Zajaczkowski – Acceleravia Capital, Sweden and Anna Zielińska – the Pomeranian Special Economic Zone Ltd, Poland. At the end of the lively panel session both, panellists and audience agreed that interregional cooperation is the must and cannot be stopped by any political issues or crisis. We need to be innovative and eco-friendly to be a part of the European economic zone. – We need to start immediately zero waste education at all levels and for all generations, from children to the elderly – says William Hogland. The knowledge exchange has increased over the last decades and to keep it up we need to bear in mind that alone we will not go any further.