The UNSESCO protected dunes of Łeba epitomising a curiosity of nature on a European scale. The shipyards of Gdansk that once gave birth to Solidarność. 1000 years of history breathing through the streets of beautiful Gdansk. The Polish region Pomorskie is not only a place of great natural and historic value. “Pomorskie is also the most active Polish region when it comes to cooperation with the neighbours around the Baltic Sea”, says Radomir Matczak, director of the Office of the Marshal of the Pomorskie Voivodeship.
Mr. Matczak, who represents Pomorskie in the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Monitoring Committee, notes that universities, authorities and NGOs from his region participated in fourty projects of the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013. These projects helped, for example, to better connect the countries around the Baltic Sea, make shipping safer, or to help employees of 55+ make the most out of their professional life.
On the way towards a functional gateway between North and South
The transport connections between the Baltic and the Adriatic Seas were the asset of one of the projects, TransBaltic. Its main idea: to maximise the positive economic effects of this transport corridor designated for development under the EU’s TEN-T policy. “Our region Pomorskie benefited from this project, because the project partners compiled quality information for us to use in decision making”, explains Mr. Matczak. “From a scoping study from the project, we now know the scale of investments that are necessary along the transport corridor to make it economically competitive.” Based on the project work, the region included an additional railway line, the link between the ports of Szczecin and Gdansk, into the development plans. And finally, the project developed a comprehensive action plan for the Baltic Sea macro-region to turn the corridor into a functional gateway between North and South.
A better grip on underwater chemical threats from dumped munitions
Another topic tackled by Pomorskie was the drowsing threat of chemical munitions dumped into the Baltic Sea at the end of the Second World War. At least 50,000 tonnes of often poisonous substances have been dumped in the Baltic Sea. Uncertainty existed about the location of all dumping areas, the content and condition of the munitions or how they behave under Baltic Sea conditions. The project managed to map and characterise these dumping sites. “We are now better prepared to deal with the risks”, believes Mr. Matczak. “We have updated maps, fishermen have better access to reliable information and region-wide contingency plans are ready to be activated in exceptional cases of leakage.” The project involved all levels of stakeholders, from science to those directly affected but also policy decision makers.
“In the future”, Mr. Matczak emphasises, ”We hope to see all Interreg projects integrate their results better into the core institutions so that the positive effects will be even stronger.”