Project platforms for closer links among projects and policy makers
31 Mar 2017

A cooperation platform for projects would support policy processes in the Baltic Sea region and contribute to the implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan - was highlighted by Andrzej Podściański, coordinator of EUSBSR Policy Area Nutri, and Dmitry Frank-Kamenetsky from the HELCOM Secretariat at the Interreg Baltic Sea Region workshop “Clear Waters – added value of cooperating in project platforms.” The workshop was held back-to-back with the HELCOM workshop on nutrient recycling in Berlin on 27-28 March.

© IB.SH/ Fiona Woo

Connecting projects with the policy level 

The aim of the workshop was to help shape Interreg Baltic Sea Region’s approach towards project cooperation in platforms before launching an autumn call. It was also about understanding the actual needs, expectations and assessing interests of potential project platform partners. Coordinators of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), HELCOM as well as Interreg and other EU funded programmes and projects confirmed that there is indeed a need for closer cooperation in the clear waters topic, which project platforms could actively support. 

Particular expectations and potential outcomes of project platforms were also raised. “There is a need to make technical ‘project language’ accessible and understandable beyond projects. Especially in order to connect projects with the policy level,” said Jenny Hedman, coordinator of EUSBSR Policy Area Hazards. Projects’ representatives highlighted further needs on a practical level: to exchange information and data, harmonise approaches, demonstrate and disseminate developed solutions to practitioners.

The workshop participants indicated that the platform could make project achievements more visible and attractive. This would bring about a broader implementation and multiplication of practical results. The importance of joint messages directed at the policy makers at a national and EU level was reiterated by several participants. In more practical terms, a “roadshow” of project results in different countries was proposed as a tangible product of cooperation in a platform.

The need to thematically narrow project platforms was debated as well. On the one hand side, a more focused approach to selecting a topic for the platform cooperation would bring clearer results and make it easier to involve relevant target groups. On the other side, a broader approach might be needed in order to reach a noticeable impact on the implementation of relevant strategies and targets e.g. agreed through the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan.  

Furthermore, the question who should take the lead for such a platform was much discussed by the participants. The suggestion of Henning Lyngsø Foged from Interreg Baltic Sea Region Baltic Slurry Acidification project that  “a leader should be committed, neutral and not biased towards a point of view or a country” was jointly supported.

Way ahead

The workshop, similarly to an earlier workshop on Blue Growth topic, brought in a lot of useful ideas and recommendations on how to shape project platforms. It highlighted that the platforms could fill in the existing gaps and connect project results stronger to policy developments. The clear waters platform could be an instrument to deepen the knowledge basis, streamline activities and to support strategic communication. All the discussions will support the Managing Authority/Joint Secretariat as well as the Programme countries to set expectations and formulate requirements for an upcoming call for project platforms to be announced this autumn.