The official opening of the Baltic Development Forum Summit was held at the University of Copenhagen. Welcoming addresses were held by BDF Chairman Uffe Ellemann-Jensen and Lykke Friis, Pro-Rector of the University of Copenhagen. Hereafter followed the opening addresses, held by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark and Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen, CEO Carlsberg. The Opening Gala Reception was held in the City Hall of Copenhagen and was hosted by the City of Copenhagen and Mona Heiberg, Deputy Chairman of the Copenhagen City Council.
The Summit opening was followed by two intensive conference days starting on Monday morning December 1, ending Tuesday afternoon December 2. The Summit offerered a creative mix between high-profile plenary sessions and more in-depth thematic breakout sessions. The high level of speakers representing key businesses, governments, institutions and academia were to give all participants two days full of inspiration, knowledge and new contacts. We hope you were able to bring some food for thought with you from it. If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions on improvement, we would gladly hear them.
The Summit aimed to bring forth four areas of of discussion points, vital for the Region to discuss:
Energy and Climate
With two of the most important upcoming global meetings on climate— COP 14 in Poland in December 2008, and COP 15 in Denmark 2009—the Baltic Sea Region will attract vast international attention in the year to come. The outcome of these two meetings will have global impact on future energy consumption and efficiency. Without a doubt the energy sector will play an increasingly important role to the region’s future economic performance, and the Baltic Sea Region has an excellent chance to become a frontrunner in efficient energy systems.
EU has set far-reaching targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing energy efficiency and increasing consumption of renewable energy sources, yet too few joint initiatives exist on the regional level. If we do not utilize the Region’s many energy competences now, when enjoying intense European and global attention, the opportunity of becoming a frontrunner will go lost. In fact, some of the current regional challenges are the lack of integration, coordination and cooperation in the energy market, energy security issues and the lack of regional policy that could regulate heavy dependencies on dominating supplier countries such as Russia.
EU Baltic Sea Strategy
The European Council’s decision to adopt a regional EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in 2009 is a testimony of the new dynamic phase that the Region has entered after EU’s enlargement in 2004. The EU commitment is a unique chance for the Baltic Sea Region to further boost its competitiveness, economic growth and ability to address global challenges through regional solutions.
The strategy and its action plan will be a new regional instrument of the EU. The main features of the strategy are to be drawn up in the coming months. The Summit offered an exclusive opportunity to influence the process. The focus was lain on the Region’s prosperity and competitiveness, including issues such as innovation, entrepreneurship, better functioning of the internal market and energy. This part of the Summit was organized in cooperation with the European Commission.
Labour Market and Talents
The Baltic Sea Region stands on the threshold of the future with a new competitive situation largely defined by the globalised world. The continuously changing setting presents us with new challenges and opportunities. The need for an active, flexible and mobile labour force comes in tandem with demographic development challenges, rigid labour markets and strict migration policies.
The Summit addressed how the labour market actors in the Region ought to activate, make flexible and mobilise the labour force. The impact of global demands for talent together with the threat of brain-drain and the need for a proactive approach to attracting and retaining the talents of tomorrow were also on the agenda for further discussion.
Swedbank Baltic Sea Awards
In connection with their cooperation and the Baltic Development Forum Summit, Swedbank and Baltic Development Forum hands out an annual award for extraordinary contributions to the development of the Baltic Sea Region: the Swedbank Baltic Sea Awards.
Eligible recipients are individuals or organizations from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden. The Swedbank Baltic Sea Award is assigned to an individual or organization that has fulfilled one or several of the following criteria:
- Made an extraordinary contribution to Baltic Sea region development
- Played a leading role in the region’s economic development
- Strengthened economic cooperation between the countries in the region
- Developed new business concepts and research programmes
- Capitalized on competitive advantages in the region in a new and innovative way
- Improved the environment in the Baltic Sea region
- Linked innovators and local universities in the trade and industry
- Concretely supported existing and growing regional clusters
- Attracted and stimulated regional “fiery souls”
This year, the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, was honored with the Award. The award was handed over by the CEO of Swedbank Jan Lidén at a gala dinner at the Baltic Development Forum Summit in Malmö 1 December.
- The Baltic Sea Region needs fiery spirits, individuals who believe that they through a personal and lifelong commitment can make the region stronger, better and sustainable. President Halonen has a longstanding record of focusing on the common good for the Baltic Sea Region, often stressing the fact that we all live in a common region, with common assets, common problems, and common solutions, said the CEO of Swedbank Jan Lidén upon handing over the award.
President Halonen has with her strong commitment for the Baltic Sea region inspired both political leaders and fellow citizens to take a common responsibility for the Region.
President Halonen was appointed among several strong candidates by a jury consisting of the Prime Minister of Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Swedbank’s Executive Chairman Carl Eric Stålberg, and the Baltic Development Forum Chairman Uffe Ellemann-Jensen. The prize sum is €5,000.