Stockholm, 29 June 2017
7 cities from 4 countries have successfully completed the inaugural edition of Baltic Sea City Accelerator, pioneering a new approach to transforming and cleaning up the Baltic Sea.
At a ceremony held on 28 June in Stockholm, mayors and leading civil servants representing municipalities in Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden were recognised for their successful completion of the Baltic Sea City Accelerator, a programme initiated by Race For The Baltic, the foundation established by Niklas Zennström, Co-Founder of Skype and CEO and Founding Partner of Atomico.
“I am impressed by the cities’ high ambition levels and their innovative plans to help clean up the Baltic Sea. Cities are the change agents that can make a real difference to restore the Baltic Sea and reach the Sustainable Development Goal Targets” says Niklas Zennström. “We have a positive momentum right now, but there is still more that needs to be done.”
For the past 18-months, the pioneers – Kalmar, Vaxholm, Västervik and Värmdö from Sweden, Mariehamn from Finland, Panevėžys from Lithuania, and Slupsk from Poland – have participated in the Baltic Sea City Accelerator, a programme that brings local governments, businesses, and members of the science community together to develop local Baltic Sea Action Plans and identify sustainable and innovative solutions for local water challenges.
“In addition to the municipalities developing local Baltic Sea Action Plans; collectively, the pilot programme has helped bring forth 150 “clean water” initiatives, representing more than €100 million in “clean water” investments, being identified, and all pilot municipalities aiming to achieve their share of HELCOM nutrient reduction targets,” says Barbara Jackson, CEO of Race For The Baltic – the organisation behind Baltic Sea City Accelerator Programme.
The programme is unique in that in addition to introducing a corporate strategy and change management lens to tackling environmental issues, it focuses on municipalities and fosters an exciting new way of collaboration among various stakeholders in the Baltic region.
Politicians and high level civil servants presented their ambitions and best practices at the event which was attended by representatives from the Swedish and Baltic Sea region government, academic institutions and the private sector.
Examples of the municipalities’ ambitions and actions that cities are taking include:
-Västervik has invested in a nutrient recycling pump which has increased local harvest by 20%.
-Kalmar aims to have the best wastewater treatment plant in Sweden.
-Slupsk, Poland is leading citizen engagement with water democracy in their community.
-Värmdö and Vaxholm are two attractive and popular archipelago destinations that are managing boat tourism and clean water for residents and tourists.
-Panevėžys, Lithuania aims to renovate stormwater and wastewater facilities and restore the main river Nevėžis.
-Mariehamn, Åland is restoring wetlands to increase the quality of bathing beaches.
Quick Facts About Baltic Sea City Accelerator:
Pilot programme: 2016-2017
-20 expert partners including GE, Mannheimer Swartling, Stockholm Environment Institute, Boston Consulting Group
-Vision to scale up to 100 cities between 2018-2020
-Funded by Zennström Philanthropies, Ålandsbanken, Swedish Institute and Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management
-Supports UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Water Framework Directive and HELCOM frameworks.
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