Column by Kjell Nilsson

Dear Reader,

The Baltic Sea Region is one of Nordregio’s four geographical focal areas. In November 2016, more than 1000 people joined the EU Baltic Sea Region Strategy Forum in Stockholm. Nordregio co-organized two well-attended workshops, one on maritime spatial planning (MSP) and the other on territorial monitoring.

The common denominator for this EU macro-region is the Baltic Sea. The basic prerequisite for the Baltic Sea Region Strategy is sea-water quality, as stressed in the opening speeches by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and the entrepreneur and capitalist Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype and initiator of Race for the Baltic.

Four years ago, I was approached by two gentlemen from the Swedish national sea authority who asked if Nordregio was interested in participating in a project on MSP. The background to this offer was that the EU Directorate for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, DG MARE, had decided to follow up their decision to make it mandatory for every member state to adopt a maritime spatial plan before the end of 2021, with some project money being available to enhance cross-border co-operation. The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM) took the lead in developing such a project for the Baltic Sea Region.

With our background in research on governance and terrestrial spatial planning, Nordregio became an active partner in the Baltic SCOPE project, in which the governance aspects are especially strategically important. By starting with a consensus-oriented subject such as spatial planning, the states around the Baltic Sea were able to develop cross-border co-operation that may open the door to joint actions on more controversial topics, such as tackling the region’s devastating water pollution or the distribution of fishing quotas.

In this issue of Nordregio News, you can learn more about the outcome of the Baltic SCOPE project and its successor, PanBaltic SCOPE, which is expected to start at the beginning of 2018. We also report on how MSP is implemented in Poland, which was one of the first countries to introduce MSP into its legal system in 2003. How cross-border co-operation on MSP is being developed in the Adriatic and Ionian Sea Region is also covered here, and you can read about BONUS BASMATI, a new research project on MSP for sustainable ecosystem services led by Aalborg University with Nordregio as one of the partners.

Finally, from the perspective of youth, we ask: what does it mean to make the Baltic Sea a better environment for future generations? I believe it means a healthy living Baltic Sea where future generations can swim without the risk of being poisoned by blooming algae and where they will still be able to enjoy the taste of freshly caught trout, smoked eel and fried herring.

Enjoy reading this issue. We look forward to your feedback.