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Nordic-Baltic cooperation 1991–2031

Table of contents Foreword: more is better Linnar Viik: a joint digital market in the Baltic Sea region would benefit all governments, industries and people A shared agenda would boost research cooperation A truly green economy requires a shift in values and lifestyle From guidelines to meeting points for industrial cooperation Future of the creative industries: green niche, creative partnerships or language weed? Demographics – too complicated for us? Nordic-Baltic strategy on human development Solutions: raising the retirement age and enhancing support for the elderly Exciting challenges ahead of us A common goal: balanced society with awareness of the impact of climate change Carita Peltonen: It’s essential to include men Baltic and Nordic prospects in the 21st century: green growth, occupational tourism and new political groups Per-Kristian Foss: Cross-border cooperation brings more jobs to the Baltic Sea Region 21 years ago: 5 turbulent days New challenges for Baltic Sea cooperation – for the Nordic and Baltic countries Foreign ministers: NB8 cooperation in the near future About the authors

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MORE is better ... Nordic-Baltic cooperation 1991–2031 © Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia, Tallinn 2012 © Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia, Riga 2012 © Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Lithuania, Vilnius 2012 ISBN 978-9949-30-745-6 Editor-in-chief: Triin Oppi Editors: Inga Puriņa, Martynas Snieganas, Berth Sundström, Imants Gross, Bo Harald Tillberg Translation: Luisa Translation Agency Ltd. & Marika Gintere

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More is better In this book we have given the floor to Baltic and Nordic specialists. We have asked them to focus on the challenges of the future, with the view that through cooperation in the Baltic Sea region it will be possible to find solutions to our common challenges. We have asked for personal opinions, not official statements, and thus we hope to contribute to the debate with what we can do better together in future. The areas that we have received feedback on are IT and research, population development, creative industries, green growth, gender equality and regional cooperation.    Although it seems as if we here in Northern Europe have fared relatively well in the current gloomy economic times, we have every reason not to close our eyes to the fact that there is still much to do in the Baltic Sea region in order to create an economic basis for reducing the economic and social disparities between countries. Future demographic challenges with an aging population and decreasing supply balance are faced throughout Europe. In the Baltic States the problems are more severe due to emigration to the European Union, often in the direction of the Nordic countries.    Freedom of movement is natural in Europe; it strengthens our competitiveness. Let us, in our own region, work to reduce the impact of mobility in areas that are suffering because people are choosing to move away by developing tools to minimise the negative effects. Together we should work to find solutions as to how freedom of movement can be developed to strengthen the network within the region, and to enhance our common competitiveness outwards. The challenge is to find solutions that are sustainable for the future in every part of the region, in an increasingly challenging environment where competition is intensifying and the risk that jobs will disappear to another part of the world is increasing every day.    Here there is definitely room for more cooperation – not less. The flip side of this, of course, is that if we are not ‘on guard’, we run the risk of the emergence of a population policy vacuum that impoverishes many parts of our region, thus weakening the area as a whole.    With different starting points, it appears we all need to come to the same conclusion that now applies to Nordic-Baltic cooperation: more is better.   Halldór Ásgrímsson   Secretary-General of the Nordic Council of Ministers


Linnar Viik: A joint digital market in the Baltic Sea region would benefit all governments, industries and people The Baltic Sea region has a unique opportunity to form a cross-border information society, Estonian IT visionary Linnar Viik says. A joint digital market and shared IT-based services could bring huge benefits to the companies and citizens in the region, he says. Interview by Arko Olesk Tallinn University/Postimees, Estonia

What puts the Baltic Sea region in such a good position regarding innovation and research? The Baltic Sea region, which is the Nordic countries plus the three Baltic States, certainly has unique opportunities. First, we have a good tradition and splendid quality in academic education and the applied sciences. What could be done further is the regional integration of students. I would like to see that by 2020 every student enrolling in any university in the Baltic Sea region should have a mandatory semester of studies at another university in the region, which would enrich academic diversity.    Beyond academic competence, the second layer is related to the importance of ICT development as a strong competence in different companies with R&D offices in our region. This is good news because we have not lost our momentum in mobile application services and mobile communication infrastructure development. Vice versa. We have a good focus on it in Sweden and Finland; we have a great focus on different usability aspects in Denmark and application development in the Baltic States. We have regional demand for academic knowledge and a good base for transferring that knowledge to working solutions, products and services.

When we look at the entrepreneurship landscape in Northern Europe and the Baltic States we see that we are far more entrepreneurial in utilising ICT; our start-up culture is much more part of the DNA of society compared to the rest of Europe. We can be proud of that. When we look at the entrepreneurship landscape in Northern Europe and the Baltic States we see that we are far more entrepreneurial in utilising ICT; our startup culture is much more part of the DNA of society compared to the rest of Europe. We can be proud of that, and it’s certainly bringing a good number of new


business opportunities within and beyond the region. So we have good preconditions. Last but not least I’d like to highlight that governments in our region have recognised that innovation and entrepreneurship are key aspects in job and welfare creation and in the competitiveness of societies. What can be built on these preconditions that will benefit citizens? It is very interesting to look at areas where information technology has been utilised. The biggest impact of IT development is of course on digital communication, which we are seeing around us. The second layer is related to financial services, manufacturing and trade. Now we are seeing new horizons where IT will be applied.    IT applications are the norm nowadays in services, including tourism and hospitality, but beyond that, public services are becoming more and more integrated with information technology providing competences. These include different areas of health, education and social services. Good, well-designed IT solutions can be useful in preventing a number of incidents. It can provide a good tool for self-service in society but also raise the competence of a civil servant or any service provider, based on the shared competence of colleagues.    We have a very good example in health: radiology. Radiology is a specific domain in health services where the radiologist and the patient never actually meet. The shift towards digital radiology is happening right now in Northern Europe and the Baltic States, but obviously it will take longer in big countries. The professional competence base in the field is already well interconnected. It could be arranged so that the second opinion for any patient in Estonia – or even the first opinion of their radiologist – is given by a radiologist physically located in Kuopio, Gävle, and Copenhagen or on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa.    Focussing the health services market on competences rather than institutions is not only a challenge from the regulative and administrative point of view, but it is mostly related to the mindset of people. This is a challenge, but it is good to recognise that we live in the Northern European cultural space, where no truth

Information technology and science

Johannes Jansson/

Information technology and science


is written in stone and tradition is not a value per se, but innovation is something which people are excited to discuss. They are open to new ideas and new solutions.    There are many professional services, including auditing, financial services, legal services and other business-related consultancy and services, where the joint market size would benefit many. How integrated do you think the region will become in terms of ICT cooperation and joint activities? I see far more opportunities for fully embedded integration in the future of IT in the structure of our society in the Baltic Sea region than elsewhere in the European Union. I see further regionalisation also in the domain of the information society and the network economy. Northern Europe is the most dynamic region in Europe. We don’t need to spend much time wondering why all of Europe can’t move ahead with the same dynamism. We should set our own speed and share our knowledge over the next few decades with the rest of Europe.

Multi-territorial licensing is one thing we should be focussing on together to create a joint Nordic-Baltic intellectual property licensing environment. One of the flagship initiatives of the European Commission under the broad-ranging and important programme called ‘Digital Agenda’ is the Digital Single Market. The market adds new value to the task of removing barriers to truly free movement of people, goods, services and capital: free movement of knowledge and information in Europe, and services based on it. The Digital Single Market will create enormous benefits, especially for small countries and societies. If we have access to its content pool on an equal basis with big countries, our creative industry can use the European market as a home base for their services to reach further into the global market.    Within that single market initiative I also see opportunities for faster regional development and a joint Nordic-Baltic digital single market. It should really be brought to the attention of all of the governments in our region that this is something which would benefit all of the people living here and all of the companies operating here, and that it would integrate what we have been doing well so far in utilising IT for our societies. What would it mean in practical terms? It could mean a lot of things. Most important is to think openly, without borders. It would mean, for example, that the great Swedish-based online music service Spotify would be equally available under the same multi-territorial licensing system in all of the Nordic and Baltic countries. Multi-territorial licensing is one thing we should be focussing on together to create a joint Nordic-Baltic intellectual property licensing environment. That would bring about huge benefits for musicians, producers, users and service providers. With the help of regulation alone and with no further billions


needing to be invested, we could create a market which was five times bigger than our individual markets are right now. We could create a market of 20 million people just by drafting better regulations and thinking differently.

I urge industry organisations to raise awareness because the Digital Single Market is not an IT company or telecommunications company issue. It includes service companies, transit companies, logistics, tourism, trade, manufacturing and more. We can think about a future where telecommunication services are roaming-free. This is a major, long-term vision for Europe, but it could be done faster in our region. The shift towards a roaming-free market also provides a huge incentive and opportunity for application-based services available in every country. Wherever I go I could have access to a lot of mobile-based services which right now are fragmented between different markets.    The Digital Single Market would also mean that whenever I happened to see a doctor in another country, they would have – with my approval – access to my medical data. This would also mean that I could work in other European countries and access my professional certificates, degrees and diplomas in electronic format, not on paper, and they would not need to be translated, as happens now. It would also mean that we would start harmonising rules and services. Why not issues related to, for example, requirements for public transport?    The cross-border information society will become the dominant topic in the next 20 years. The countries who focus on cross-border and bilateral information society development now will not only bring benefits for their societies, but the competence they are gaining could also serve as great experience to share, publicly and commercially. What are the roles of the stakeholders in the process? There is a need to identify the current awareness of the industry and private sector. The private sector tends to be protective, especially in times of crisis. They want to protect their existing business models and established markets. By having a bigger market, a Nordic-Baltic market, market shares and business models would be challenged. Which is not perhaps a situation many companies want!    However, I can see that companies in our region are thinking more and more about the longer term: they’re truly thinking from a perspective of competitiveness, and they see that there is more to win than to lose from joint market and digital single market efforts in the Nordic-Baltic Sea region. I urge industry organisations to raise awareness because the Digital Single Market is not an IT company or telecommunications company issue. It includes service companies, transit companies,

Information technology and science

logistics, tourism, trade, manufacturing and more. All sectors of the economy are influenced by it.    It took a good 20 years to implement the original idea of an energy grid around the Baltic Sea. We can see that there isn’t the capacity to deliver the true demand for the energy grid. We need to learn from what we’ve done with EstLink and other energy projects in the Baltic Sea region and move ahead. We need to implement issues based on interconnecting other services and economic sectors more rapidly than we did in the energy sector.

There is a need to identify the current awareness of the industry and private sector. The private sector tends to be protective, especially in times of crisis. They want to protect their existing business models and established markets. By having a bigger market, a Nordic-Baltic market, market shares and business models would be challenged. Which is not perhaps a situation many companies want!

   The idea of having a joint cross-governmental board on crucial issues was proposed in a report to the Estonian and Finnish governments. Of course, it requires interest from the governments. We can see that Estonia and Finland are strongly integrated, not just for cultural reasons, but also economically: we enjoy great social mobility and business integration. That would place good demand on joint services, setting a joint agenda and undertaking joint initiatives.    I would like to see a joint cross-governmental innovation board which would jointly set a Northern European agenda. Could the region also become an example to the rest of the world? Would there be any export potential for these projects? My personal experience on advising governments on innovation and information society policies has led me to the conclusion that technology is the same everywhere – but the social, cultural, political and economic consequences or local aspects often make implementing new ideas difficult.    When building up Nordic-Baltic joint efforts we should first focus on the benefit to our own societies and not on export opportunities. If it works well and creates benefits for end users, it will certainly have a value that could be exported and localised for other countries and regions around the world.

Northern Europe – Sweden, to be more precise – was also the birthplace of the Pirate Party. They have recently done well in elections in Germany, too. Could they become a crucial force in implementing these ideas, since their agenda is similar? I think the agenda I’ve been discussing here is not unique to the Pirate Party, which has worked to bring issues about the emerging information society to the public’s attention which were swept under the carpet for quite a few years. We were just hiding from issues that were actually on the table. The policies I’m addressing are no longer unique to the Pirate Party, but they’ve been very quickly learned and addressed by all major political movements in Northern Europe. This shows politicians’ ability to learn not just for the sake of popularity and populism, but to truly serve their societies. They are going to embed Digital Single Market issues and challenges in their existing political agenda.    It’s not so much about who’s in power. I feel that our region is not driven by short-term opportunistic political movements, but rather longer-term agendas that are on the table for all of the major political parties. Could new services be applied to the whole region in future instead of being developed for individual countries? I’m definitely looking forward to a process in which we have a tightly shared and integrated agenda for the Baltic Sea region on innovation and information society issues. We’ve seen a lot of initiatives which succeed in one country, and another country can see the benefits of it, but for some reason focuses only on reasons why it can’t be implemented. That could be eliminated, for example, by a joint information society board.

Information technology and science


A shared agenda would boost research cooperation Geographic proximity and similar cultures foster research cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, but most joint research projects tend to run through the rest of Europe, researchers say. Arko Olesk Tallinn University/Postimees, Estonia “Contact started when one of our employees went to work for a Finnish university,” recalls Peeter Laud, Director of Research with Cybernetica, the Estonian company whose information security solutions are behind many of the country’s lauded e-services. “Today we’re working more with the Nordic region than any other,” he says.    Jaak Vilo, Professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Tartu, has a similar story to tell: he completed his PhD at the University of Helsinki and is now working with them again, studying cancer as part of an international private-public research consortium.    Laud and Vilo are not lone examples in the field of ICT research. Personal contact made during studies significantly shapes collaboration in the Baltic Sea region.   Several initiatives are keeping networks strong and growing. For example, both Laud and Vilo point out NordSecMob, a Master’s programme in security and mobile computing, offered jointly by five universities: Aalto University in Finland, the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Tartu in Estonia.    “Contacts may have come about because of geographic proximity, but it’s positive feedback that keeps us working together,” Laud says of cooperation within the Baltic Sea region.    Common cultural features as a catalyst for Nordic ICT research cooperation were also emphasised in a 2007 study entitled ‘Nordic ICT Foresight’.    “We were trying to determine what the Nordic style of innovating could be,” says Project Manager Toni Ahlqvist from the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland. “I’d say that it’s more about cultural features than technological issues,” he explains. “It’s a kind of cultural platform on which to build ICT infrastructure.” While the study was initiated by four Nordic research organizations – VTT (Finland), FOI (Sweden), SINTEF (Norway) and DTI (Denmark) – and focuses on these four countries, much of it would also apply to the Baltic States, Ahlqvist says.


   But while unofficial ties between Baltic Sea researchers are strong, often this fails to translate to official collaboration projects. “Internationally, most of our cooperation and relations [with other Baltic Sea region institutions] go through major European initiatives,” Vilo says. “There are almost no direct bilateral relations, because no funding mechanism exists for such cooperation.”    “Most of our funded networking activities are directed towards Central Europe,” Vilo adds. “And looking at it from their perspective, one partner from Northern Europe is usually enough.”    Would a funding scheme encourage regional research cooperation? While there are several programmes for Nordic cooperation, only a few specifically fund Nordic and Baltic ICT research collaborations. One is the NORIA-net Living Labs in the North programme financed by NordForsk, the funding programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers.    Vilo believes closer co-operation could help to create larger centres of competence. “They would then be more attractive from the point of view of Central Europe, too, and would make the area more competitive internationally,” he says. “For example, personal medicine could only be made possible by creating larger IT and data analysis solutions, and strong cooperation in the fields of biology and health.”    “For scientific cooperation we have the EU Framework Programme, but it would make more sense to encourage collaborations in applied research,” Laud adds.    “Funding is obviously a much-needed resource,” Ahlqvist says, “but some kind of shared agenda is perhaps more important than just funding. If you have an integrating cultural agenda, you can come up with wide-ranging project ideas that will open up a range of possibilities, either in the form of new funding or new applications and solutions. That’s why we’ve also tried to think what ‘Nordicness’ in ICT culture means.”   “Policy-makers can’t create that common agenda on their own – it’s not a matter of a simple declaration,” Ahlqvist adds. “It requires a bottom-up

process that takes into account lots of stakeholders and discusses things as broadly as possible. The Nordic countries have a long tradition of egalitarian welfare societies. When we combine this with a rather advanced engineering culture, there are definitely possibilities for creating an e-democracy or a transparent ICT-based culture of debate.”    Although, according to Laud, there is still a long way to go to achieve similar levels of e-governance and fluent transborder information exchange, these are the areas in which the Baltic Sea region has the potential to be more successful than any other region in Europe. “There is no specific area of ICT research that would make the Baltic Sea region stand out globally,” he says. “Rather it’s the general level of ICT research quality, the information security level and the level of e-governance.”

“Funding is obviously a much-needed resource,” says Project Manager Toni Ahlqvist from the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland, “but some kind of shared agenda is perhaps more important than just funding.” Information technology and science

Johannes Jansson/

Information technology and science


A truly green economy requires a shift in values and lifestyle Jānis Brizga NGO Green Liberty, Latvia

The Baltic States and Nordic countries are only inhabited by around 33 million people, but the region is rich and diverse in ecosystems, cultures and economic activities. However, there are big differences between the countries. According to Eurostat data, average per capita GDP in the Nordic countries in 2011 was around 31.8 thousand EUR in current prices. At the same time, GDP in the Baltic States was three times lower – 10.4 thousand EUR per capita. In the Nordic countries, per capita household expenditure is also 3-4 times higher than in the Baltic States, where it is rapidly rising. But increasing income is not equally distributed, as reflected in the Gini index of the inequality of income distribution in the Baltic States, which is comparatively high.    Current consumption and production patterns in the region have an increasing influence on global resources and ecosystems. These pressures are largely linked to the existing global economic model, where economic growth is considered to be the main prerequisite for human well-being. Economic growth is seen as a tool to ensuring prosperity, creating jobs, dealing with public debt, helping to finance pensions, health and education systems and strengthening environmental protection through technological progress and the increased availability of financial resources.    Nevertheless, economic growth over the last few centuries has resulted in natural resource depletion, increasing pollution, biodiversity loss and many other environmental and social problems, without solving global issues of poverty, inequality and injustice. The planet has entered a new epoch where anthropogenic pressures on its system have reached a scale where abrupt global environmental change can no longer be excluded (Rockström et al., 2009). Economic development and our consumption and production patterns are largely responsible for this. Many authors (e.g. Assadourian, 2010; Jackson, 2009; Daly, 2008) have stressed that a drastic reduction in the environmental impact of economic activities is necessary to avoid the collapse of civilization and that change should come from society by transforming dominant cultural patterns, economic and institutional systems and attitudes and behaviour.    The current economic downturn in many countries can be used as a starting point for making considerable changes to these patterns, paying more attention to


environmental constraints, economic efficiencies and social well-being. Mainstream economics of late have been challenged by the emerging concepts of the green economy and green growth and jobs, and even degrowth and the steady state economy (see box 1). These are alternative models of development, but also compete with one another.    Therefore, alternatives to an economic system based solely on quantitative economic growth should be considered when seeking solutions to current and future problems. To date, however, the risk of long-term negative growth as a potential consequence of sustainable development has not been sufficiently examined. Currently, the green economy is determined by the neoclassical economic paradigm. It is based on a belief in infinite exponential economic growth and the ability of the market to handle resources efficiently. Most of these initiatives focus primarily on improving efficiency using technological and economic instruments. These instruments are especially effective under the circumstances of the market economy and influence producers’ possibilities and consumers’ behaviour on the market. However, this approach is insufficient to reduce absolute environmental pressure or change unsustainable trends, and it consolidates a materialistic world view within society (Greening, Green, & Difiglio, 2000; Fuchs & Lorek, 2005; Rubik et al., 2009; Jackson, 2009), as it mostly deals with relative environmental pressure and in many cases ignores possible rebound effects.

Many authors have stressed that a drastic reduction in the environmental impact of economic activities is necessary to avoid the collapse of civilization and that change should come from society by transforming dominant cultural patterns, economic and institutional systems and attitudes and behaviour. For a green economy to grow there is a need for a transition not only within markets and technologies, but also within the institutional framework, which

Green growth

Sigurรฐur ร“lafsson/

Green growth


Box 1. Different concepts of the Green Economy

“Green economics combines economics with knowledge from the natural sciences, produces a long-term perspective and considers a wide range of values, including sustainability, a sense of community and appreciation of social and environmental values.” (Green Economics Institute, 2006)

“A green economy is a system of economic activities related to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services that results in improved human well-being over the long term, whilst not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” (UNEP, 2010)

“Green growth identifies the environment as a driver for economic growth, and is defined as the concurrent promotion of economic growth, minimization of waste and inefficient use of natural resources, reduction of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, increased energy security and maintenance of biodiversity.” (OECD, 2010)

“Smart growth is the strengthening of knowledge and innovation as drivers for future growth and is a key element of a green economy.” (ESDN, 2010)

“A low carbon economy emits minimal amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). It is a component of a green economy, as investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency within a green economy is anticipated to reduce carbon emissions in addition to generating new sources of income and jobs.” (Fulai, 2010)

“A circular economy reduces the consumption of resources and the generation of waste by reusing and recycling waste throughout the production, circulation and consumption process. It is recognised as an element of a green economy, as investing in resource-efficient technologies and waste management/recycling within a green economy is expected to improve resource efficiency and waste management.” (Fulai, 2010)


should encourage prosperity outside of the market, and culture – the socio-psychological mindset, shifting people towards less materialistic values and lifestyles. The green economy requires progressive decoupling of resource consumption from economic growth, taking into account growth and rebound effects; integration of social aspects; public participation in decision-making; sustainable infrastructure and supply systems; social innovation and changing perceptions of a good life; and organizational and institutional structures and cooperation networks, ensuring collaboration and trust between stakeholders.    There are many local and regional initiatives aimed at the green economy and sustainable development in the Nordic countries and Baltic States, e.g. the development and promotion of clean and the best available technologies; innovative energy solutions and promotion of renewable energy; the development of green buildings; the promotion of eco-labelling and environmentally friendly products; and green public procurements. All of these initiatives aim to solve the conflicts arising between economic development and environmental protection. These initiatives also have high potential for joint implementation projects and transfer of knowledge, best practice and experience between the Nordic countries and Baltic States.

Nevertheless, the Baltic States have a much lower ecological footprint than the Nordic countries. This can mostly be explained by income differences, but in all of the countries food, housing and mobility are the three main consumption clusters with the highest environmental impact. There is a large body of evidence that countries are making a positive difference in developing green economies and adopting sustainable consumption and production patterns. The Nordic economies have a considerably more developed production sector and are more advanced in technological development than the Baltic States. These countries have also succeeded as the frontrunners in the development of ecotechnologies. Denmark, for example, is well known for its cluster of wind power generator production, and Sweden and Norway for their use of hydro power and biomass for energy production.    Nevertheless, the Baltic States have a much lower ecological footprint than the Nordic countries. This can mostly be explained by income differences, but in all of the countries food, housing and mobility are the three main consumption clusters with the highest environmental impact. How the use of natural resources and pollution will change in future largely depends on the changes in the way we satisfy our needs in these three sectors.    Buildings, in which we spend 90% of our time, represent a significant proportion of total household expenditure and are responsible for the largest share

Green growth

FIGURE 1. Cars per 1000 inhabitants and car share in total inland travel Source: Eurostat

700 R2=0.3779



Cars per 1000 inhabitants






Lithuania Norway


450 Estonia 400 Latvia 350

300 75





Car % in total inland passenger-km

FIGURE 2. Share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption (%) Source: Eurostat











Green growth









of total primary energy consumption. Facilitated by an increasing number of dwellings and their size, household energy consumption in the region continues to rise. But there are also positive trends: rising energy prices, increasing taxes on fossil fuels and information campaigns have shifted such consumption away from oil and coal to other energy carriers – mostly biomass and natural gas, but also solar and wind energy. The housing sector, especially in the Baltic States, still has huge energy efficiency potential and possibilities for quality of life improvements. The sector can be made greener by (a) encouraging the availability of environmentally friendly household equipment; (b) promoting energy-efficient buildings; (c) introducing and monitoring environmental standards for buildings; (d) collecting and communicating the best available practices; and (e) fostering public involvement and collaboration within community development.    The transport sector is another big polluter. Regionally there are significant differences in transportation infrastructure and patterns of mobility. A passenger train network is almost entirely absent in the Baltic States, but in Sweden and Denmark it represents 8-9% of total inland passenger kms travelled. However, in all of the countries passenger cars are the main mode of mobility. In the countries with the highest car ownership, car travel also accounts for the highest proportion of total travel (see Figure 1). City planning and infrastructure development can play an important part in minimising transport-related environmental pressure and improving mobility. For example, for every km travelled by bike instead of car, the City of Copenhagen saves DKK 0.45 million or 43 million USD annually (Wigand et al., 2011).    Apart from housing and transportation, changes are also needed in the food sector. There is a need for short food supply chains of local products, increased availability of organic and fair trade foods and sustainable and healthy diets. Organic food production and the land area under organic farming in particular are increasing in all of the countries in the region. Sweden and Estonia lead the way, with more than 10% of all agricultural land farmed organically. However, the organic food market in the Baltic States is in its infancy, with few processing facilities and an underdeveloped distribution network. Consumption of animal-based food products is responsible for the greatest environmental impact. In all of the countries in the region, meat consumption is far above the global average, especially in Denmark, Iceland and Estonia.

The housing sector, especially in the Baltic States, still has huge energy efficiency potential and possibilities for quality of life improvements. Considering the enormous environmental impact of climate change, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy are key factors in the green economy. All of the countries in the region have improved their energy efficiency over the last 15 years. The Baltic


States have improved energy intensity by a factor of two, but their average energy intensity remains almost three times higher than in the Nordic countries. This can be explained by differences in technological advancement and the comparatively low GDP rates in the Baltic States.

Despite improvements in energy efficiency, all of the countries in the region have increased their total energy consumption over the last 20 years, especially electricity consumption, which has increased rapidly – in Latvia, for example, by as much as 50%. Despite improvements in energy efficiency, all of the countries in the region have increased their total energy consumption over the last 20 years, especially electricity consumption, which has increased rapidly – in Latvia, for example, by as much as 50%. The main drivers behind this trend are the growing number of household appliances (e.g. freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, PCs and other small appliances) and the increasing diversity of electricity use (not only for lighting, food storage and entertainment, but also food preparation, air conditioning and hot water).    The Nordic countries and Latvia have all had a positive experience in using renewable energy (see Figure 2). Sweden and Norway boast the highest proportion of renewable energy in their total energy consumption, and these countries also have the highest targets for 2020 as set by the EU Directive on renewable energy. Finland, Sweden and Latvia are leaders in the EU in per capita biomass production. Conclusions The countries in the Baltic and Nordic region are among the world leaders in the green economy, as they boast many good examples and considerable achievements in several areas, e.g. use of renewable energy, improving technologies, preserving the environment, reducing inequality and improving well-being.    The Nordic countries have managed to achieve better results in eco-efficiency and decouple resource consumption and pollution from economic growth. The energy intensity of economic output is an example of this. However, the Nordic countries have much higher per capita consumption levels, and this leads to higher direct and embedded household energy consumption, waste generation and, ultimately, a bigger ecological footprint.    The ecological situation in the Baltic States improved considerably when industrial output was reduced and policies were amended following the collapse of the Soviet Union. EU accession improved environmental regulation and introduced Western environmental management principles. However, the trends in the Baltic States are alarming, as rising incomes are leading to higher resource consumption

Green growth

Karin Beate Nøsterud/

Green growth


and pollution levels linked to the life cycle of products and services.    Although each country has its own traditions, history, culture and politics, this diversity can be mutually beneficial in the case of effective cooperation. As the Baltic States do not have the capacity to develop new technologies to decouple economic growth from environmental impact, regionally there is a need for technology transfer and share of best environmental management practice. These countries also need to pay more attention to education, awareness-raising and promotion of green lifestyles.    High incomes, sophisticated environmental policies and technology advances improve eco-efficiency, air quality, resource management, higher life satisfaction and life expectancy, but do not help to reduce total environmental impact. So the challenge remains to find a new and healthy balance between economic aspirations and environmental imperatives. A new green economy in the region and bilateral cooperation among countries should not only support technology transfer and the use of market-based instruments, but also stimulate social innovation and new forms of economy, e.g. sharing economy and social enterprises, where value is created not by producing more and more material goods, but by satisfying people’s needs.


References 1. Assadourian, E. (2010). The rise and fall of consumer societies. In L. Starke, & L. Mastny (Eds.), State of the world 2010 (pp. 3-20). London: Earthscan. 2. Daly, H. E. (2008). A steady-state economy, sustainable development commission seminar material. Retrieved June 10, 2010, from 3. ESDN (2010). From green growth towards a Sustainable Economy? Workshop Background and Discussion Paper. European Sustainable Development Network . 4. Fuchs, D., & Lorek, S. (2005). Sustainable consumption governance: A history of promises and failures. Journal of Consumer Policy, 28(3), 261-288. 5. Fulai S. (2010). A Green Economy: conceptual issues. Available online at: GE-Conceptual-Issues.pdf 6. Greening, L. A., Green, D. L., & Difiglio, C. (2000). Energy efficiency and consumption—The rebound effect—A survey. Energy Policy, 28, 389-401. 7. Jackson, T. (2009). Prosperity without growth: Economics for a finite planet. London: Earthscan. 8. Larson, M. (1996). On the law on environmental damage. Liability and Reparation. Acidimetric AB, Delbruck. 9. OECD (2010). Investment for green growth. Accessed online at:,3343,en_2649_34893_43783465_ 1_1_1_1,00.html. 10. Rockström, J., et al. (2009). Planetary boundaries: Exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society, 14(2), 32. 11. Rubik, F., Scholl, G., Biedenkopf, K., Kalimo, H., Mohaupt, F., Söebech, Ó., Stø, E., Strandbakken, P., & Turnheim, B. (2009). Innovative Approaches in European Sustainable Consumption Policies, IÖW, Berlin. UNEP (2010). Background paper - Green Economy. UNEP/LAC‑ IG.XVII/4 12. Wigand, B., Wils, A., Christiansen, S.K., Wiking, M. (Eds.) (2011). Less Energy — More Growth. Lean Energy Cluster: Copenhagen.

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From guidelines to meeting points for industrial cooperation Successful, integrated regional cooperation within creative, innovative and other industry sectors for the sake of a region’s competitiveness requires initiatives connecting regional industry players and enterprises.    A new priority area emerging from the ongoing dialogue on the 5th issue of guidelines for the Nordic Council of Ministers’ cooperation with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for 2014 and onwards concerns economic and industrial cooperation, also within creative and innovative industries. There is a lot to be achieved which could benefit the competitiveness of the entire NB8 region globally.    Limiting the contribution to conferences and seminars is not enough. Neither does it suffice to serve as passive administrators of regional cooperation programmes.    What is still needed is to proactively bring together players from specific industry sectors within, for example, creative industries as well as to encourage key players and enterprises to meet in order to discuss and establish concrete and practical win-win economic cooperation with a regional scope. What this actually implies is the need to establish specific platforms and networks for various industry sectors providing relevant information about potential partners and providing an opportunity to initiate and develop cooperation. This concept is nothing new, but it is all too rarely applied in practice.    A good example of positive experience is the Riga Meetings project which has been implemented with the support of the Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Business and Industry and other sources. The organisers invited national Nordic and Baltic film institutes and commercial stakeholders to meet in Riga to discuss ways of cooperating and pooling their resources and competence with the aim of developing a high quality, competitively priced product which could attract international film-making projects that would otherwise be implemented elsewhere.    Another aspect of the success of the Riga Meetings project is the joint venture FirstMotion which has been granted millions of euros from EU funds for new ideas and projects in the Baltic Sea Region.    Riga Meetings has subsequently been used as a model in the transmedia and computer industries in the region as well as in the fashion and textile industry, where networking opportunities have been arranged gathering relevant players and enterprises, matchmaking carried out among the enterprises and initiatives implemented, encouraging an overhaul from traditional textile manufacturing to sustainable production.    These are the experiences which to my mind we should develop further. These initiatives could yield much in return by boosting the region’s competitiveness internationally. Imants Gross Director of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia 15

Future of the creative industries: green niche, creative partnerships or language weed? Dace Melbarde Centre for Arts Education and Intangible Heritage, Latvia

When thinking about the future of creative industries in the Nordic-Baltic region, one of the most controversial questions which is often raised in various circles is: Hasn’t the very concept of creative industries been exhausted? How relevant is the notion of creative industries in the so-called “age of creativity”, when being creative and innovative is required of virtually any enterprise, be it manufacturing or the service industry? What are the possible scenarios for the future of creative industries?    Discourse in Europe renders at least three scenarios for the future development of creative industries. The first is based on the assumption that creative industries will retain their special position in the European economy and remain one of the most rapidly growing sectors and economy stabilizers1, as it transpires from the Study on the Economy of Culture in Europe2 conducted in 2006. This direction is most likely to occur in larger countries, such as the United Kingdom, where creative industries display obvious potential for competitiveness – taking into account the number of people employed (1.5 million in 2010), the relative share of creative industry companies among all enterprises (5.1% of all registered companies in 2011) as well as the exportability of their services (10.6% of the UK’s exports of services)3.

Creative industries will retain their special position in the European economy and remain one of the most rapidly growing sectors and economy stabilizers. The second scenario anticipates the bursting of the creative economy bubble and sees the creative community destined “to search for other jobs in low paid service industries, agriculture and traditional crafts and trades”. One such forecaster, Klaus Kunzmann, a professor from Dortmund Technical University, warns that “the export potential of creative industries in Europe is limited as India and China and Brazil have developed competitive industries and flood the European market. Only English speaking countries with powerful cultural industries (film, books, music) can compete.”4 Seeing


China’s attempts to radically change the strategic direction of its economic and culture policies from “made in China” to “created in China”, it is hardly questionable that in the foreseeable future creative industry players in Europe will have to face tough competition not only on the global market but also at home. This poses new challenges for accessing the markets as much as it opens up possibilities for new partnerships and wider horizons for activity.

Seeing China’s attempts to radically change the strategic direction of its economic and culture policies from “made in China” to “created in China”, it is hardly questionable that in the foreseeable future creative industry players in Europe will have to face tough competition not only on the global market but also at home. A brief summary of the third scenario would be “spill-over effects”. This appeared as one of the key expressions on the creative industry agenda when Tallinn served as the European Capital of Culture in 2011, and it has been developed further in the Policy Handbook on ‘How to strategically use the EU support programmes, including structural funds, to foster the potential of culture for local, regional and national development and the spill-over effects on the wider economy’ published in April 2012. The spillover scenario relies on a holistic view of the creative and cultural sector and its role in the overall future development of Europe. The spill-over effects aim to connect the creative and culture industries with the rest of the economy and society – for example, introducing creative designs in public transport, applying creative industry solutions in health care services and implementing innovative forms of education.5    Which of the above-mentioned forecasts is most viable in the Nordic-Baltic case? What are the region’s advantages and specialities that could promote and strengthen the competitiveness of the

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region’s creative industries in the global context? In order to discuss these and other issues I interviewed two of the region’s creative industry experts: Ragnar Siil, Undersecretary for Fine Arts at the Ministry of Culture in Estonia and chairman of the EU expert group on cultural and creative industries; and Olegs Nikitins, creative entrepreneur and head of the working group on the creative district “Tobacco Factory” in Riga.

Both Baltic experts are of the view that the buzz around creativity will eventually wear off and that creative industries will blend in with the rest of the economy. Technological development and globalization will make it more and more difficult for businesses to survive without innovation. Although generally speaking the discussion on creative industries in the Nordic and Baltic countries has become much livelier, the experts agree that there are incomparable differences in the Nordic countries and Baltic States as to the very understanding of creative industries and attitudes towards them. Ragnar Siil refers to the positive developments in his country: “In Estonia, creative industries have gained strong political recognition, as they were part of the election agendas for most parties. Creative industries were also included in the government coalition agreement in 2011. Since 2007 Estonia has implemented concrete support measures with the help of the EU’s structural funds, which has led to several success stories. This means that the [creative industry] discussion in Estonia has not been theoretical; rather it has been based on actual cases and success stories.”    Olegs Nikitins is much more sceptical about the importance of creative industries in Latvia: “In the case of Latvia, I doubt that creative industries are or will be as important to the development of the economy as in the case of the UK, the Netherlands or Scandinavia, unless creative industry policy development and business education for creative enterprises reaches a different level.” He also comments on the relevance of creative industries as a term in the present age of creativity: “I am convinced that the term ‘creative industries’ is applicable on a macro level, since business models and the subsequent relationships that are established are significantly different from those in traditional industries – there is a shift from ‘enterprises’ to ‘projects’, from nine-to-five to freelance, from linear careers to portfolio careers, etc. And there is much more room for failure, in a good sense. Some undertakings appear to be successful while others are not, with considerably less pressure from the stakeholders.”    The last five years of Nordic progress in the field of creative industries leaves little doubt that our well advanced neighbouring countries are on a steady course towards fulfilling the ambitions defined in the ‘Creative Economy Green Paper for the Nordic Region’ in 2007 –


“to become a creative cluster of global significance” and “to be a connector between different parts of Europe and the world, and to be a connector between the creative industries and the wider economy”6. The KreaNord7 report ‘Growth, Creativity and Innovation in the Nordic Countries. 18 Nordic cases on the creation of values through competences within creativity and business understanding’8 published in 2012 testify to the strong potential of the Nordic countries to generate good synergies between culture and creative competences and various businesses. The focus on offering new, culture-bound experiences and design thinking stand out as the necessary prerequisites for creative businesses to succeed.    Both Baltic experts are of the view that the buzz around creativity will eventually wear off and that creative industries will blend in with the rest of the economy. Technological development and globalization will make it more and more difficult for businesses to survive without innovation. Thus, traditional businesses will either have to adopt creative thinking or face losing competitiveness.    The possibility of spill-over effects mentioned in the third scenario does not mean, however, that the Nordic-Baltic region could not put its claim on particular sectors within the global field of creative industries. I asked the two Baltic experts about the advantages and strengths of the region’s creative industries that could serve as a good foundation for future growth and cooperation.

Nikitins believes that the region has huge potential in the area of experience design, which along with the development of mobile technology is bound to reinvent marketing. Nikitins referred to the remarkable cultural heritage of the region – design, music, film, theatre and more. “The success of these areas builds upon the specific characteristics of our nations, which cannot be mixed up with any other region or nation. However, such authenticity is not necessarily a key aspect and does not require an endless quest for the definition of national identity – because we all have it and everything we do reflects it.” Nikitins believes that the region has huge potential in the area of experience design, which along with the development of mobile technology is bound to reinvent marketing. He also adds that the key to success is perseverance in the face of failure: “If I’m not mistaken, there were at least 30 unsuccessful games launched by the guys behind Angry Birds before their big hit.”    Siil is convinced that strength lies in cooperation itself. Separately the countries are rather small, but when they work closely together the region can have an impact on a global scale. He thinks that a strong asset is the region’s digital competence and infrastructure, because both the Nordic countries and Baltic States are leaders in broadband coverage and many world-class companies operate within its IT sector. “If we look at it from a global perspective, the best potential of the

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Nordic-Baltic region is in IT and the game industries – there are a growing number of companies producing games for different platforms, like Rovio with Angry Birds,” he says.    Another area in which the region is constantly improving and where it has the potential to be a renowned centre of excellence is the music industry. Siil says that Nordic music is a globally recognised trademark and that the Nordic countries have been doing a lot of strategic work by setting up music export agencies. In the last few years regional consolidation has been intensified further by creating NOMEX – the Nordic Music Export network. Steps have also been taken to integrate the Baltic States into this shared platform. The launch of Tallinn Music Week in 2009 marked a radical change on the Estonian music scene, boosting revenue from Estonian music exports by around three times in just 3-4 years.    The number of creative businesses set up across the region has been rapidly increasing, partly due to support measures targeting creative enterprises. One of the most successful support instruments in Estonia has been the launch of creative business incubators in Tallinn and Tartu, which have yielded excellent results in just 2.5 years of operations. Of all the new companies applying for ‘incubation’ in the Estonian capital, 60% come from creative sectors. Also, the rise in cultural and creative companies from 2009-2011 was 10%, which is more than in other sectors.

Viewed from the Latvian perspective, one of the constant pitfalls is the lack of an interdisciplinary approach in terms of both action policies and creative industry support mechanisms. There is one more distinctly Nordic aspect which has yet to be mentioned and which could benefit the Baltic States in many ways – joint Nordic commitment and increasingly visible activities towards strengthening values of sustainable growth. “The Nordic Region – leading in green growth” is a vision based on the joint utilisation of Nordic strengths in energy efficiency, promotion of sustainable energy, environmental awareness, investment in innovation and research and ambitious international targets for the environment and climate. Working together, the region will carry more weight, earn a bigger market share and make more of a political impact at the international level.9 This political agreement by the Nordic prime ministers is a great opportunity for Nordic-Baltic creative industries to firmly demarcate their niche on the global arena of creative economies, by positioning themselves as industries based on a green mindset and green growth, both in their communication and activities. A number of positive tendencies in the creative sector testify to this, as well as several concrete enterprises working with sustainable fashion, architecture and design which have already gained international recognition. For example, NICE – Nordic Initiative, Clean and Ethical – is a joint commitment

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by the Nordic fashion industry to take the lead in social and environmental issues.10 Moreover, in spring 2012 Riga hosted the first Nordic and Baltic Fashion and Textile Forum, entitled ‘Sustainability and New Markets’, aimed at strengthening the development of the fashion, design and textile industries in the Baltic Sea Region, establishing a common platform for cooperation among fashion businesses and promoting the sustainable development of the fashion industry.11

A powerful instrument where both Nordic and Baltic skills and experience could come into good use would be joint regional mapping of creative industries, which could ultimately contribute to a beneficial political framework. What could the future focal points of Nordic-Baltic cooperation in creative industries be? Viewed from the Latvian perspective, one of the constant pitfalls is the lack of an interdisciplinary approach in terms of both action policies and creative industry support mechanisms. Nikitins explained that responsibility for creative industries in Latvia lies with the Ministry of Culture alone. Consequently, the Latvian Ministry of Economics is not particularly interested in studying or supporting the sector; nor does it see any significant potential in it. Most of the state support programmes distributed by the Latvian Investment and Development Agency target large businesses, whereas EU structural funds are allocated to projects with a minimum budget of 400 thousand EUR, which is inapplicable to the creative sector with its mostly small and medium-sized enterprises.    Thus closer and continual cooperation among the Nordic countries and Baltic States for the sake of political commitment and purposeful, coordinated decisions with regard to various sectors of creative industries (culture, education, economy, territorial development and external relations) will play a major part in the coming years. In the case of Latvia the ability to mainstream creative industries into other fields of national development will, to a large extent, determine whether the country’s creative industries will succumb to the second scenario – the bursting bubble – or whether they will follow Nordic suit and combine the best features of the first and third scenarios.    A powerful instrument where both Nordic and Baltic skills and experience could come into good use would be joint regional mapping of creative industries, which could ultimately contribute to a beneficial political framework. Furthermore, such a joint venture should yield not only comparable statistical data but also provide evidence of the much lauded spill-over effects creative industries are supposed to have on a wider scale. Consequently, the mapping exercise could become a key tool in raising awareness and consolidating relevant terminology as well as serving as a basic reference point in policy discussions, territorial


planning and clustering initiatives. Authorities and the public alike should be well aware that a strong local basis and political commitment are prerequisites to accessing international markets.    Another staple feature of future cooperation between the Nordic countries and Baltic States is creative partnerships. With the risk of becoming a so-called ‘language weed’, especially since its inclusion on the EU agenda in the culture and creative sectors, the very idea of creative partnerships is potentially much more comprehensive and feasible than the concept of creative industries itself. The idea’s advantage is its basic principle which places the artist – the creator of cultural values – at the centre and which endows their creative competence, out-ofthe-ordinary world view and risk-taking with a new meaning. “Creative partnerships are about associating the world of art and artistic or cultural institutions with sectors that are traditionally unconnected, such as administration, businesses, industry, educational establishments, employees and management,”12 writes Philippe Kern, the founder and managing director of KEA. 13 “Creative partnerships may turn into successful partnerships. Success may be measurable in productivity gains and financial results, in improved social relations within an enterprise, in better communication of an organisation’s values, in product development and in innovation.”

Another proposal worth considering is Nordic-Baltic cooperation with the British Council and the UK-based organisation ‘Creativity, Culture and Education’, which has over a decade’s experience of running the creative partnership programme in British schools, thereby gathering international acclaim and compiling an extensive research base. Apart from the examples cited in the KreaNord report ‘Growth, Creativity and Innovation in the Nordic Countries’, one outstanding success story of the creative partnership initiative in the Nordic countries is TILLT, a Swedish organisation based in Gothenburg. A producer of artistic interventions in organizations, TILLT runs a variety of programmes placing artists in people’s workspaces. The results show that it is a win-win experience for both parties. The organisation’s work is focussed on two directions: the processes of human growth and organizational development utilizing artistic competence to stimulate creativity, innovation, human development and more; and striving to expand the field of artistic activities, where new art can be born and new artistic methods can be developed.14 In Latvia, for instance, such a partnership project would be an unusual and (quite possibly) popular innovation, shaking up a somewhat tired workforce worn down by the economic crisis


and subsequent structural reforms. It is therefore in Latvia’s interests to not only spread the word about the Swedish model of creative partnership to employers but also to organise ‘training for trainers’ so as to be able to localise and implement the initiative.

The Creativity Voucher could also aid Nordic and Baltic creative enterprises, which are still predominantly local in their scope, to access markets in Europe and beyond. Another proposal worth considering is Nordic-Baltic cooperation with the British Council and the UK-based organisation ‘Creativity, Culture and Education’, which has over a decade’s experience of running the creative partnership programme in British schools, thereby gathering international acclaim and compiling an extensive research base. Latvia and Lithuania have some experience of cooperating with the organisation’s chief executive Paul Collard over the last couple of years, when several pilot projects were implemented and training seminars held for teachers. On 7-8 June 2012 the Forum on Developing Creativity laid the systematic foundations for the launch of a creative partnership programme in Lithuania.15    Furthermore, Ragnar Siil refers to methods based on the philosophy of creative cooperation, such as the Creative Credit or Creativity Voucher, which could be implemented in Nordic-Baltic cooperation.    The Creative Credit scheme, already tested in Manchester in the UK, aims to help small businesses develop new ideas by teaming up with creative firms.16 Meanwhile, according to the Economic Clusters for Cultural Enterprises (ECCE) programme based in another UK city, Birmingham, the European Creativity Voucher is a brokerage tool that makes it easier for companies in different Member States to collaborate and work together. Within the framework of the ECCE programme, enterprises of various scales and profiles have been brought together to facilitate their access to the European market and to become an example of new methods in transnational collaboration by engaging or collaborating with well-established international businesses.17 The Creativity Voucher could also aid Nordic and Baltic creative enterprises, which are still predominantly local in their scope, to access markets in Europe and beyond.    As far as foreign markets are concerned, Siil suggests two things: firstly, that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania should be strategically included in Nordic creative partnerships; and secondly, that investing in the Northern Dimension Partnership for Culture is presumably crucial for promoting the region as one entity internationally. “Unity will grant us a bigger scope and turn the region into an equal partner on the global scene, also benefiting internal markets,” he says.    Closer inspection of creative industry discourse in the Nordic and Baltic region often reveals that the main focus of support strategies is on product creation,

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production and dissemination. However, there is another precondition for the sustainable growth of the creative economy which cannot be underestimated: informed and motivated consumers of cultural and creative products.    In the context of increasing globalisation and global competition, Nordic and Baltic authorities should devote more efforts to strengthening the unique identities of their local cultures and public awareness thereof. At the same time, it is important that people are open to diversity and that they are curious and knowledgeable about the history and culture of their neighbouring countries. This shared sense of belonging to the region, people’s self-respect, self-confidence and taste should ensure wide public demand for creative industry products in the future.

There is another precondition for the sustainable growth of the creative economy which cannot be underestimated: informed and motivated consumers of cultural and creative products. Thus, in the coming years cultural education should be one of the top priorities for the development of creative industries in the region. In this respect the region is far from lacking experience – there is the Cultural School Bag scheme, networks of music and art schools of various levels and more. Granted, these institutions are subject to a number of reforms in Latvia and the neighbouring countries, but a common platform of regular cooperation and networking for cultural education players could be a valuable asset.    Along with existing resources, one new regional cooperation initiative worth considering would be a network of Nordic cultural ambassadors. The main objectives of the scheme would be to spread knowledge of the rich cultural history of the Nordic countries and Baltic States and their contemporary cultures as well as to promote openness and respect in terms of diversity, especially in view of the active migration of third country citizens northwards.    The involvement of local communities in shaping their cultural milieu is becoming increasingly important. A relevant step in this direction would be establishing a regional creativity award. This would target municipalities which in their development planning and management exhibit a holistic approach towards culture and creativity and through cooperation with other sectors come up with innovative ways of engaging local communities and promoting welfare. At the current stage of the national development plans devised in the Nordic countries and Baltic States (and Europe in general), a crucial part will be played by the region’s population and policy makers alike. Their ability to grasp and appreciate the creative resources their cultures contain will be essential, as will their competence in implementing strategies facilitating successful interaction between culture, creativity and smart growth.


References 1 projects_creative_economy/creative_business_catalyst/assets/ features/uk_creative_industry_to_drive_significant_growth_i 2 3 4 Presentation “Territorial implications of the global economic crisis for the future of European space” at the conference on cohesion policy and territorial development: Make use of the territorial potential! 10-11 December 2009 in Kiruna, Sweden. polopoly_fs/1.27648!menu/standard/file/091211_ kunzmann_l%C3%A4tt.pdf 5 120505-cci-policy-handbook.pdf 6 7 KreaNord is a Nordic initiative designed to improve the growth prospects for the region’s cultural and creative industries. The work is conducted by the Nordic Council of Ministers and serves as a Nordic platform for exchange and development 8 final_eng.pdf 9 10 11 12 of-creative-partnership-presentation-given-in-warsaw-on-5122011. html#more 13 KEA is a Brussels-based strategic consultancy that has specialised in providing advice, support and research in relation to creative industries, cultural, entertainment, media and sport sectors since 1999 14 15 in-vilniuslitauen/ 16 projects_creative_economy/creative_credits 17 voucher-booklet.pdf

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Demographics – too complicated for us? Now let’s look ahead. Our common Nordic-Baltic vision should be that the entire region achieves the same level of welfare. This is not the case today. Income levels in the Baltic States are only a fraction of those in the Nordic countries. Social security, equality and education in the region have developed in the right direction but there is still much to achieve together. In the long term, the current situation is simply unsustainable. Demographic developments speak for themselves. Emigration from Latvia, which showed the gloomiest figures among the Baltic States, indicates that the population will decline by a quarter within 50 years (by 2060). More alarming is that those who emigrate are usually the best educated young people who are needed to develop the community and support the economy. Emigration can easily become a vicious circle that can lead to an acceleration in emigration and impoverish the ‘machinery of society’.    But the question of emigration is sensitive. If emigration is felt nationally in the Baltic States to be a political failure, it could easily happen that this debate is not at the top of the list of decision-makers. Meanwhile, emigration for one country is immigration for another, which is rarely the neighbouring country. And migration within the region can be seen as welcome, considering the balance of supply in the future. It goes without saying that this mindset is short-sighted and completely unsustainable.    Instead of looking at short-term national interests, we should have a reason to ask ourselves how we are going to solve these demographic challenges so that it strengthens the whole region around the Baltic Sea. It is a common Nordic and Nordic-Baltic interest to ensure that we do not create a vacuum in population policy that may eventually turn into sore spots in our neighbourhood. Let’s face the truth. The problem is there – now it’s time to find solutions for the future. There is certainly room for new ways of thinking.    We must ask ourselves what we can do together to find solutions and create the tools we need. A Nordic-Baltic think tank focusing on demographics could be a first step. At the same time, we should look at the sectors of the economy where there is innovation and leading knowledge in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. IT is one sector where there is room for cross-border activities. There are already good examples of success. Skype, where Estonia has been involved in from the beginning, is often highlighted as such an example. This suggests that there is potential for further success. Let’s try to find the key factors needed to boost knowledge and innovation across the region. If we succeed in this, it will strengthen our common competitiveness – and that is certainly something that is needed, right now when the economic outlook for Europe is one big question mark. Berth Sundström Director of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia 23

Nordic-Baltic strategy on human development By Peep Mühls Estonian Cooperation Assembly, Estonia

If the Eurostat population forecast published in June 2011 comes to pass, Estonia’s population will decrease over the next 50 years (i.e. by 2060) by 12.5% to 1.17 million. Roughly the same number of people lived in Estonia prior to World War II (see Figure 1). The decline will be even steeper in Latvia, where the population is expected to fall by 25.6% to 1.67 million – fewer people than lived in the country before the war. The situation is somewhat ‘better’ in Lithuania, where the decrease is expected to be 19.6%, with the population falling to 2.67 million: slightly more people than prior to World War II, but given the historical and geopolitical changes that have taken place since then – in particular the large numbers of Lithuanians who have emigrated since the country joined the European Union – it is just as worrying as the situation in Estonia and Latvia in terms of social sustainability.

It is clear that if we do not set ourselves ambitious targets for economic growth and for our GDP to at least reach the EU average, doing so will take years – particularly with an aging population. In the years since independence was restored in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the three countries have posted (and are likely to continue posting) some of the highest population loss figures in Europe. Depopulation in this context does not only mean a negative ratio of births to deaths, but also a negative balance in migration, for which the recent recession provided additional impetus. This in turn amplifies aging in society (e.g. with the mean age exceeding 40) – in which the Baltic States, led by Latvia, are setting not just new European, but world records – since those emigrating are primarily young people of working age. The main countries they are relocating to besides the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany are those in Scandinavia, especially in Estonia’s case.    With the next generation we are reaching a situation where our neighbouring Nordic countries are sustainable and indeed growing in human assets, while the countries on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea are declining in population and sustainability – and not just


Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but also two of Europe’s biggest nations, Germany and Poland. According to the Eurostat forecast, in 2060 the Baltic States as a whole will be home to the same number of people as Finland: 5.5 million (see Figure 2).    Estonia’s GDP, on the basis of its PPS (Purchasing Power Standard), is close to two-thirds of the European Union average. And although this is slightly higher than in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, it is still half that of Denmark and Sweden, and almost a third that of Norway. It is clear that if we do not set ourselves ambitious targets for economic growth and for our GDP to at least reach the EU average, doing so will take years – particularly with an aging population.    This is why the Estonian Cooperation Assembly has raised the issue of quality of life as one of the main indicators by which to assess development in an international comparison. It can also be evaluated through the human development index, which assesses countries on the basis of their levels of education, average life expectancy and health indicators in addition to GDP. Assessing development on the basis of quality of life would require a paradigm shift in society, but it would also bring the Baltic States closer, in the longer term, to the Nordic countries, which are some of the highest ranked in the world (see Table 1).

“Considering our rapid population decline and aging, we should, in the current decade, focus on the sustainable development of Estonian people and society, increasing the quality of life and our human assets.” Prof. Marju Lauristin, University of Tartu, Editor-in-Chief of the Estonian Human Development Report 2008–2011

Estonia today is one of the most integrated countries in the Baltic Sea region in its membership of international organisations (the EU, NATO, the Eurozone, the WTO, the OECD et al.) and in the contribution it makes to them. Despite the issues and complications that have reared their heads from time to time, this integration has been supported by a social agreement based on historical experience but looking to the future – ‘never again alone’.

Demographic changes

TABLE 1 Human Development Index Source : UNDP, Human Development Report 2011


Norway Germany Sweden Denmark Finland Estonia Poland Lithuania Latvia Russia

1 9 10 16 22 34 39 40 43 66

FIGURE 1 Population projections, millions Source: Eurostat, Tacitus Historical Atlas

1939 2010 2060




FIGURE 2 Population projections, millions Source: Eurostat, Tacitus Historical Atlas

1940 2010 2060

Baltic States

Demographic changes






The time has come to remodel Nordic support schemes as partnerships which take not only the strategic interests of the individual countries into account, but those of the Baltic Sea region as a whole. To date Estonia has managed quite effectively to strike a balance between a conservative fiscal policy and a viable social policy. But given our fundamental population indicators, that balance is clearly unsustainable from the point of view of the next generation. If, within the next ten years, Estonia as well as the other Baltic countries do not wish to become a founding member of a new international club – of countries with the most rapidly decreasing populations in the world – something needs to be done now. And why shouldn’t that involve our partners from the Nordic countries, as the demographic situation on the other shore of the Baltic Sea affects the competitiveness and sustainability of the entire region?

REFERENCES 1. Estonian Human Development Report 2010–2011. Baltic Way(s) of Human Development: Twenty Years On ( 2. Eurostat ( 3. Berzins, Atis and Zvidrins, Peteris, 2011. Depopulation in the Baltic States. In: Lithuanian Journal of Statistics 2011, Vol 50 No 1 ( view/57/pdf) 4. Tacitus Historical Atlas ( population/)

If, within the next ten years, Estonia as well as the other Baltic countries do not wish to become a founding member of a new international club – of countries with the most rapidly decreasing populations in the world – something needs to be done now. Irrespective of the growth of their populations, the sustainability of their social models is also an issue in the Nordic countries. It is a subject being spoken of by more and more academics, politicians and public figures. And at a conference organised by the Estonian Cooperation Assembly in November 2011, internationally recognised scholars and politicians from the three Baltic States asked themselves how the gaps in the Baltic Sea region could be closed.    In light of the thoughts expressed at the conference, of the forecast for human assets in the Nordic countries and the Baltic Sea region and of the risks and opportunities arising from it, there is a need to create a centre focussing on human development in the region – a think-tank that would unite regional and international expertise and present considered proposals to the governments, decision-makers and general public of the Baltic Sea region. Sufficient data and information is being collected at both the EU and international levels, but it needs to be dealt with systematically and properly interpreted. There are dozens of lessons to be learned from the experience of Nordic countries in terms of life-long learning and prolonging the working age, integration and social cohesion, and above all, sustainable development. Based on the strategic interests of our countries this think-tank would be a partnership project between the Nordic countries and Estonia also involving other Baltic Sea states. First and foremost, it should take into account the shared history of the peoples of the Baltic Sea and their shared future in Europe.


Demographic changes

Magnus Frรถderberg/

Demographic changes


Solutions: raising the retirement age and enhancing support for the elderly By Anders Bjerre and Carsten Beck Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, Denmark

Fertility rates in the Baltic region have long been insufficient to attain constant population levels. At the same time, average life expectancy has grown. In many countries, the population level is projected to decline, while the share of older people will rise, and the Old Age Dependency Ratio (OADR, defined by Eurostat as population above 65 years as a share of population of 15-65 years) will rise strongly (see Table 1).    A rising OADR poses a number of challenges. There are practical challenges of helping aged people with their needs, their (increasingly costly) medical needs and others. Paying for the material consumption and services for a high population of elderly may become very costly for the working-age population, whether this is paid through higher taxes or by individuals supporting their parents and other old members of their family. Hence, a high OADR can be seen as a burden on society.    Projected OADR levels for 2060 in the Nordic countries are considerably below those of the other countries in the region, as the Nordic countries have relatively high fertility rates, inter alia due to public support schemes (e.g. high availability of kindergartens) and high levels of immigration.    These methods do not necessarily offer an easy way out for the other countries, however.    Higher fertility rates may offer a solution in the long term, but the children born next year will only enter the labour market 20-25 years from now; as skills needs rise, so does the period of education. And the policies to raise fertility rates may be costly for taxpayers.    Immigration of young people lowers the OADR, but immigrants are not always young. Also, for a number of reasons, there may be barriers to immigration or to the successful integration of immigrants. Whatever the reasons, if immigrants are not well integrated into the labour market, the outcome may lower the OADR as defined without actually lowering the costs to the working population. Hence, immigration can only be a solution if a number of circumstances are suitable. Also,


seems to reflect increasingly healthy lifestyles. Fewer people use tobacco, more have a sufficient intake of vegetables and more do regular exercise. These lifestyle trends are widespread, at least for people below 90 years of age. There is a considerable gap between the lifestyles of different social groups, however, and certain social groups pose special challenges.    At the same time, support for the elderly (as for other groups) is increasingly directed towards ‘help for self-help’. ‘Lifelong learning’ is increasingly taken at face value: whatever your age and your disability (excepting some mental disorders), help focused on e.g. learning to use new tools, regaining physical abilities, mental training and developing coping strategies which make you ‘self-helped’. Based on the latest indications, there is considerable potential to enhance the quality of life for the elderly by enabling increased autonomy, while reducing public costs in the process. In other words, policies are directed towards reaching Scenario A and avoiding the less fortunate scenario.    To sum up, based on Danish experience, the challenge of rising OADRs in the Baltic region may be met, at least partly, by raising the typical retirement age through a number of measures and enhancing support and training measures for the elderly. These measures are not a panacea, as there remain alternative scenarios with different outcomes. But they appear to be a good start.

one country’s gain may be another country’s loss. Labour migration may, however, aid in the transfer of skills and – by increasing mutual contact and knowledge – be beneficial, e.g. for joint development of training programmes.    The real challenge, however, is in reducing the cost and increasing the benefits of having this large and rising group of elderly people, not reducing the OADR as defined by Eurostat.    While the OADR represents a statistical view of the fiscal burden of elderly people, the reality is more complex, as average life expectancy grows.    A major issue is the health and fitness of future generations of elderly. To what extent do they need help – either medical help, which can be extremely costly, or practical help with their daily chores, which can be very labour-intensive?    It is possible to paint two very different scenarios of the future situation. Scenario A could be that people typically remain healthy and fit up to a high age and then die after a limited period of illness. Scenario B, conversely, is that people typically become increasingly unfit and need a lot of support and medical attention for long periods until they finally die at an old age. Both the quality of life and the state of public finance will be much better in Scenario A than in Scenario B.    According to a number of current indications, we are moving in the direction of Scenario A. The higher life expectancy now compared to a few decades ago

TABLE 1 Eurostat population projections and Old Age Dependency Ratio, 2010–2060 Source: Eurostat, 12 May 2012 Population, million






Estonia Latvia Lithuania Norway Finland Denmark Sweden Poland Germany

1.34 2.25 3.33 4.86 5.35 5.53 9.34 38.17 81.74

1.17 1.67 2.68 6.59 5.74 6.08 11.53 32.71 66.36

25.2 25.2 23.3 22.5 25.6 24.9 27.7 19.0 31.3

55.5 68.0 56.7 43.0 47.4 43.5 46.2 64.6 59.9

Demographic changes

Exciting challenges ahead of us The Baltic States have, in recent years, developed a strong commitment to broadening and deepening their relationship with the Nordic countries. A number of interesting initiatives and ideas have been proposed. In Lithuania, political interest has been particularly intense prior to and during 2012, the year in which it is coordinating NB8 cooperation. It is worth noting in the discussion that exciting but complex issues of common history and identity are often included. For ‘northerners’, this may be surprising and perhaps not all that easy to relate to. Regardless, it must be seen as something positive that Nordic society models and proposed solutions to some of today’s major issues are seen as inspiring in the Baltic States. Through better understanding and closer contact, we are laying together the foundations for a region in which national borders no longer constitute an obstacle to solving common problems.    Among potential priorities, there is a lot to gain if we continue our successful work on cross-border collaboration projects in the region. With the work carried out as part of the Baltic Euroregional Network (BEN) and on similar projects administered by the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM), new and perhaps unexpected prospects and opportunities are also being created to the benefit of the Nordic countries. In addition to them and the Baltic States, north-western Russia, Poland and Belarus have also participated in the cooperation structures of BEN and its successors. This has turned into something of a unique format for collaboration between local stakeholders.    This is also the relevant context in which to mention the important role Nordic-Baltic cooperation has played in recent years in supporting Belarusian society on different levels. The support to the European Humanities University – a Belarusian university in forced exile – is one such example. Indeed, the NCM guidelines for cooperation with Belarusian society adopted in 2010 have not yet been possible to implement in full due to the situation within Belarus. However, the NCM has assigned its representation in Lithuania the important task of coordinating one of the EU’s programmes in support of civil society in Belarus: Civil Society Stability for Belarus (CSSB). It is expected that this cooperation will continue.    Besides what has been mentioned above, there are other important sectors in which it is necessary to develop strengthened Nordic-Baltic cooperation. Issues like migration in the Baltic Sea region, networks for business and research and development cooperation are examples. With the publication of this book, there is reason to believe that more people in our region will feel inspired to contribute to Nordic-Baltic cooperation. Bo Harald Tillberg Director of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Lithuania


A common goal: balanced society with awareness of the impact of climate change By Margarita Jankauskaite Centre for Equality Advancement, Lithuania

In the Baltic States, two decades of regained independence have brought changes in the field of gender equality, which have materialised in the form of laws that establish provisions on equality between men and women, designed gender equality assurance mechanisms and increased public awareness and intolerance towards manifestations of gender inequality. However, challenges that persist in all areas – be they economic, political, scientific, educational, communicative or familial – must be urgently resolved.    Democracy is not something that can be inherited; thus each generation must overcome its own challenges to incarnate equal assurance of needs, opportunities and success prospects for men and women as well as girls and boys. Consequently, on the one hand it is important to remain consistent in the implementation of already initiated activities and ensure the sustainability of the results achieved; on the other hand, however, new methods need to be identified to resolve issues that arise in the global context. Moreover, attention should be turned to novel strategies based on a transformational attitude which suggests systematic solutions for the assurance of gender equality.    Collaboration with the Nordic countries has facilitated the launch of countless initiatives in the Baltic region that have stimulated positive changes in society. These processes have resulted in the designing of gender equality mechanisms as well as improvements in political representation and promotion of entrepreneurship among women and the strengthening of the civic society sector and even efforts to stamp out violence against women.    The Office of the Ombudsperson for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men can be named as one of the most visible examples of successfully applied experience in the Nordic countries. The increased participation of women in politics is yet another significant result of the aforementioned collaboration.    The experience of the Nordic countries was and continues to be of the utmost importance for gender mainstreaming at the level of self-government. The 3R method, which was developed for and applied in municipalities by Swedish experts, received a lot of interest and helped shape the understanding that the sustainable development of society cannot be achieved without the assurance of equal participation of men and women in decision-making and equal distribution


of resources. The Nordic countries have been used as an example to encourage the more active economic participation of women, which reveals the effective contribution of gender equality to the economic growth and future well-being of society. It also promotes the contemporary family model consisting of two partners equally sharing the burden of bread-winning as well as the functions attributed to the unpaid care economy sector. The example set by the Nordic countries encouraged Lithuanian society to initiate changes in archaic norms of patriarchal masculinity that no longer correspond to the needs of contemporary society and introduce the idea of paternity leave. In comparison to the Nordic countries – and especially Iceland – achievements in the Baltic States may seem modest, but the situation is gradually improving.

Attention should be turned to novel strategies based on a transformational attitude which suggests systematic solutions for the assurance of gender equality. Still, the results that have been achieved are insufficient to ensure consistent progress and prevention of rising trends of radicalism. Despite the progress, some disturbing indications have been observed: • • •

In 2011, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were respectively ranked 19 th, 37th and 52nd on the Global Gender Gap Index, which is indicative of a worsening situation compared to previous years1. Extensive horizontal and vertical segregation of the labour market is typical of the Baltic States, which is one of the reasons for the pay gap between genders. The gap is smaller in the Nordic countries, yet the issue remains relevant to the entire region. The extent of violence against women in the Baltic States is one of the highest in the European Union. Surveys reveal that 48% of Lithuanian residents know at least one victim of domestic violence in their extended family or circle of friends, while this figure is 39% in both Latvia and Estonia2. Indicators

Gender equality

Karin Beate Nøsterud/

Gender equality


of the Nordic countries are higher than the average of the European Union as well; thus it is important to act together to resolve such joint challenges as the prevention of prostitution and human trafficking. The experience of the Nordic countries in passing progressive legislation and its implementation is important to the Baltic States, which are forced to address issues as countries of origin, target and transit.

Changes in the global setting produce new challenges for gender equality politics, which are inseparable from other aspects of discrimination: ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and state of health. In the midst of the global financial crisis, the Nordic countries proved that societies with a consistent focus on equality and respect for diversity are much more sustainable in situations of economic downturn. Thus, it is crucial for the Baltic neighbours to take this experience on board and jointly work on issues that would facilitate stability in the region.    The success of society depends on the contribution of each and every member. It is therefore important to shape a social environment that would provide equal conditions and opportunities for the self-actualisation of men and women as well as girls and boys. In the area of employment, this issue is closely related to balancing work and family commitments. In comparison to other EU Member States, the participation or non-participation of women on the labour market in the Nordic countries is least impacted by childcare3. In comparison to other Member States, Swedish, Finish and Danish fathers spent the greatest number of days on parental leave4; however, this is hardly the time to talk about absolute parity between men and women. On the other hand, the experience of the Nordic countries demonstrates that it is hardly constructive to narrow gender inequality issues down to discrimination against women. Sustainable results that ensure social and economic coherence are directly related to general attitudes towards gender equality. Thus, while forming a holistic attitude towards a policy of equal opportunities as well as engaging men in the implementation of the policy and changing the outdated perception of masculinity norms, it is important to bring together the efforts of the Nordic countries and Baltic States as well as to utilise the potential of NGOs and the academic sector.    These processes could be facilitated by the media, as it has an immense impact on human attitudes regarding the cultural roles of men and women as well as on the importance of gender equality politics implemented. Moreover, it has the ability to either strengthen or weaken support in society. However, as contemporary media is greatly impacted by neoliberalism and consumerism, it tends to underscore the biological differences of gender, in this way naturalising or even justifying unequal relations between men and women. In order to change deep-rooted stereotypes and accelerate progress in society, it is important to ensure a more in-depth understanding of gender inequality issues and causes. Cooperation with the purpose of raising the awareness of media representatives in the area of gender equality


would create opportunities for the development of public discourse that supports the values of a mature democracy. Also, it is just as important to consolidate efforts in combating gender stereotypes that thrive in areas of education and professional counselling as well as the labour market. However, gender equality, like democracy, is not something that can be inherited, and each generation must do its own homework. The global world is full of new challenges as well as innovative solutions. Thus, joint efforts, experience and varying practices would facilitate the journey to the desired destination; for example, aiming to ensure parity in representation of men and women in all areas of decision-making (politics, economics and science) or establishing high-quality gender mainstreaming in self-government to its full extent.    Municipalities play a particularly important role in the practical assurance of gender equality. They are the largest employers and providers of social services that ensure quality of life. Practical results of equal opportunities politics depend on the way employees understand the reasons for and methods of gender mainstreaming in the operations of municipal institutions. Cooperation with the Nordic countries and learning from their experience would result in a valuable stimulus for the development of constructive programmes that correspond to the needs of men and women as well as girls and boys; it would also consolidate the sustainable progress of gender equality in the region.    Sustainable development of society is impossible without the preservation of nature. The Baltic States are only beginning to act in the area of ecology and climate change. Consequently, discussions on the topic of gender impact on climate change have yet to gain the adequate interest of the public or specialists. Undoubtedly, cooperation in this area could lead to the required breakthrough. This cooperation is of the utmost importance, as the future of the region depends on the joint efforts of all countries as well as the use of available experience and support for a joint strategic decision in the global context. The Baltic States and Nordic countries working together is the only possible solution for the development of an economically, socially and ecologically safe environment for people – men and women alike.

REFERENCES 1 The Global Gender Gap Report 2011: Rankings and Scores. 2 Domestic Violence against Women. Report. Fieldwork: February – March 2010. Publication: September 2010 3 Report: Review of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the area F: Women and the Economy. sites/default/files/Review-of-the-Implementation-of-the-Beijing Platform-for-Action-in-the-area-F-Women-and-the-Economy_0.pdf 4 As before.

Gender equality

Johannes Jansson/

Gender equality


Carita Peltonen: It’s essential to include men Interview by Augustas Čičelis Centre for Equality Advancement, Lithuania

How would you evaluate NordicBaltic cooperation up till now? How significant has it been? At the outset, the Nordic countries simply aimed to introduce good practice related to gender equality policy, stressing the common goal that men and women should share responsibilities in all areas of society. The aim was to demonstrate how the policy had evolved in the Nordic countries; how they’d developed different tools to reach their goals. But the Baltic States also started sharing their views and experiences and started shaping cooperation in the region. For instance, they stressed the importance of men’s involvement in promoting gender equality, which has influenced the Nordic approach to gender equality as well. In your opinion, what form should future Nordic-Baltic cooperation in the field of gender equality take? I feel it’s really important to cooperate within the framework of the EU and UN. There’s a big difference in views on gender equality in the south of Europe and in the north. The Baltic States and Nordic countries have a similar political mind because of their historical and geographical background. That’s why we can support each other on a number of issues and cooperate in the field of gender equality, which has also been negatively affected by the economic crisis. It’s important to find ways to get men and women working together to deal with the aftermath of the crisis, because both sexes have been affected by it.    One of the reasons why it’s so important for the Nordic countries and Baltic States to cooperate is that we face similar problems. Traditional values and traditional roles for men and women have been the focus of public debate. The arguments are that women should stay at home and take care of their children, and that it’s not a good idea to enrol kids in kindergartens. I think these tendencies are the result of the economic crisis that all of the countries have been through. So it’s crucial for the public


gender equality debate to develop strong arguments based on valid research and facts.   Violence is another topic which is still very relevant today. Violence against women was a new issue discussed at the conference in Valmiera in 1997. The Norwegian organisation Alternativ til Vold (Alternative to Violence) showcased what they do to treat and work with violent men. The discussion focussed on men’s violence towards women and their violence towards other men. Men and women face violence in different places: women usually face it at home, while men face it on the streets. It’s very important that our societies discuss the topic of violence publicly, stating that nobody should experience it at home or anywhere else. It’s essential to work to include men in all fields of gender equality. Only when men and women both form a natural part of the decision-making processes in society will gender equality be possible. What links do you see between gender and other grounds of discrimination? It’s important to look at different forms of discrimination, of course, but men and women are everywhere – they’re part of all of the social groups that we label as minorities. People with disabilities, ethnic groups, old people, gay people – they’re all men and women. Gender equality today isn’t a reality in any country, so we have to look at it from the perspectives of men and women. Women with disabilities are treated differently to men with disabilities. For example, some disabled men receive less assistance at home because the authorities think their wives can help them, whereas disabled women might receive better support because the authorities don’t expect their husbands to help them much. Older women also encounter different problems to older men. As gender equality is an overarching issue, it should be included when we look at all of the reasons for discrimination. Men and women face different problems in our societies, regardless of the social groups they belong to.

  The Nordic countries and Baltic States share the same goals in their gender equality policies. At meetings, conferences and other events these goals can be discussed and experience exchanged in order to maintain a platform for joint actions. Legislation is a strong tool in changing the position of men and women in our societies. But as former Finnish president Tarja Halonen once said: “Legislation alone is not enough. Political will to improve gender equality in practice is also needed.”

Some disabled men receive less assistance at home because the authorities think their wives can help them, whereas disabled women might receive better support because the authorities don’t expect their husbands to help them much. Gender equality

Johannes Jansson/

Gender equality


Baltic and Nordic prospects in the 21st century: green growth, occupational tourism and new political groups By Gints Jegermanis Ambassador of Latvia to Denmark

The political map of the Baltic Sea region has undergone significant changes since the early 20 th century. During the past 22 years international and regional cooperation has passed through many twists and turns, and the voices propagating closer integration of Baltic neighbours into Nordic cooperation or even calling for a joint cooperation area are growing louder. As soon as such a possibility is discussed, however, a wall of objections is raised and arguments flaunted against a Baltic merger with the existing Nordic bloc. A number of surveys have been conducted on the essential differences among the Nordic countries. The Baltic States are not unanimous either on what the definition of Baltic unity is, whether it exists at all and what shape it could take in future.    In all likelihood, both Baltic and Nordic people can testify to the same feeling of kinship and familiarity experienced while interacting with neighbours from across the sea or while paying visits to their countries. Of course, the region abounds in variations as well, be it climate, landscape or geology. Nonetheless, all of these geographic, verbal or historic differences pale in comparison with one’s personal impressions formed instinctively. The Nordic countries and Baltic States display evident features of a common cultural area and a common platform of underlying attitudes and values.    Of course, the fifty-year separation spanning the Second World War and Soviet occupation has left its mark.

The Baltic States are not unanimous either on what the definition of Baltic unity is, whether it exists at all and what shape it could take in future. Since the early 1990s the economies of the Baltic States have been developing according to liberal or free market tenets, thus somewhat contradicting the Nordic precepts of the welfare state. Considerable disparity between the Nordics and Baltics in terms of household and entrepreneurial income, savings and market positioning remain the reality 21 years after the restoration of Baltic independence.    But the past couple of years have revealed an interesting tendency: the Nordic welfare model is facing


new challenges. Aging societies, lavish social benefits and Western countries losing their global influence are conditions that are bringing into question the sustained viability of the welfare model developed over the last 50-60 years. Although it is premature to say what the ongoing discussions on possible reforms in the Nordic welfare societies and economies will render, to me it is evident that the processes on both sides of the Baltic Sea will most likely lead to convergence of the economic models of all of the countries in question.

It is evident that the processes on both sides of the Baltic Sea will most likely lead to convergence of the economic models of all of the countries in question. Irrespective of how the future model of EU cooperation looks, an enlarged EU (the soon-to-be EU28) will inevitably require further elaboration on regional cooperation and solutions.    The 21st century will pose many questions – seemingly the same as those already dealt with a century ago. It is most probably common knowledge that the century is set to be one of resource shortage. The recent economic crisis and its aftermath in Europe has brought to light the expert and decisive actions taken by the Baltic States and Nordic countries, thereby outlining the region’s potential to serve as a centre of exemplary practice. Another obvious fact is that oftentimes Baltic entrepreneurs, researchers and other experts possess expertise and skills that are conducive to innovation.    Since the late 1990s the Baltic Development Forum has been promoting ‘On Top of Europe’ as a concept. Although geographically both sets of countries are located on the outskirts of the continent, in many respects the region is or could set the tone in various sectors of European economics, science and culture. A number of prerequisites are already in place: geographic proximity, shared global outlook and similarities in public administration and economic management.    One of the sectors to demonstrate this most clearly is economies based on green growth.

Regional cooperation

Nikolaj Bock/

Regional cooperation


Each of the countries in the region will have to decide which energy sources will ultimately aid their economic development beyond 2030. By coordinating efforts and exchanging best practice in the field, the Baltic States and Nordic countries have a better chance of establishing a market model which will benefit national economies in the global competition for resources.

One of the sectors to demonstrate this most clearly is economies based on green growth. Furthermore, Nordic-Baltic cooperation should not be confined to the economy alone. The exchange of expertise and skills in science, medicine, education and culture would be a veritable driving force for economic growth. Considering the size of the countries (with a total population of just 33 million) I think it is inevitable that a network of workshops will be established by professional associations or craft societies as occasional meeting points for specialists from various fields of expertise.    Cross-disciplinary knowledge is the stimulus for innovation, whereas progress derives from a successful combination of a variety of expertise and skills, which are often scattered and operate separately in the Baltic States and Nordic countries. The Øresund cooperation model is one direction which could be followed and also applied elsewhere in the region.    I think we have great possibilities to develop a new branch of tourism – occupational tourism. While it is common practice today to head to Europe (London, Paris, Berlin et al.) to acquire new skills or enhance existing ones, with a well-developed network of occupational workshops we could surely make our region an attractive destination for specialists coming from Europe and further afield.    For this idea to work, however, we also need to renew our framework of political cooperation. Although it is often claimed that NB8 cooperation is overabundant with cooperation formats, quite the opposite can also be true. For example, Baltic accession to the EU entailed a somewhat weaker political engagement on both sides of the Baltic Sea. While busy discussing Nordic-Baltic cooperation at various EU forums and striving to achieve democratic development in the EU’s neighbouring countries, we have neglected bilateral and regional contact around the Baltic Sea.

centre of the political scale, and the same is true of the right-wing block; political differences in party rhetoric are vanishing; national parliaments are increasingly populated by somewhat elitist politicians; and the estrangement felt by voters is on the rise.    By contrast, the post-Soviet political reality of the Baltic States allowed for political parties to emerge and grow regardless of political theory prescriptions, while changing electoral identities reflect social developments at large. As a result, the political parties in the region sometimes find it difficult to identify their counterparts in other Western democracies.    I think that within the next 10-20 years both sides of the Baltic Sea will see the emergence of brand new political groups which no longer correspond to the preconceived notions of the social democratic or conservative movements founded at the turn of the 19 th and 20 th centuries.    Political theory is lagging behind and failing to address present day realities, which probably means that the rise of a new political culture is imminent. It also means that tighter cooperation and personal contacts could bring Baltic and Nordic political groups considerably closer to one another and stimulate a quest to find common solutions to their electorates’ problems.    We might not be able to prove it yet in any measurable way but the future is pressing – NordicBaltic cooperation must turn the region into a standard of successful development, as far as Europe is concerned, and to a certain degree even the rest of the world.

I think we have great possibilities to develop a new branch of tourism – occupational tourism. It is worth noting that considerable changes are taking place in the European political arena. Scandinavian monarchies have upheld their parliamentary democracies for over 150 years, but there have been notable shifts in electoral preferences of late. Over the past few decades the traditionally left-wing parties have slid towards the


Regional cooperation

Karin Beate Nøsterud/

Regional cooperation


Per-Kristian Foss: Cross-border cooperation brings more jobs to the Baltic Sea Region The euro crisis is the biggest single threat to increased cross-border cooperation around the Baltic Sea. So says Member of the Storting and former finance minister Per-Kristian Foss (Conservative Party), who has a long-held interest in Nordic and Baltic affairs. Interview by Påhl Ruin freelance journalist, Sweden

Can’t cross-border cooperation around the Baltic Sea also contribute to growth and new jobs? Absolutely, and that’s what we, as politicians, must put forward as an argument. Many companies can contribute to sustainable growth by working across national borders. But part of cooperation around the Baltic Sea is also about economic sacrifice for the sake of the common environment. Not all countries are ready to make such efforts, given the tough economic times. The cold war paved the way for new cooperation around the Baltic Sea. As early as 1991 the Nordic Council of Ministers opened offices in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius. What have been their main achievements? The offices have contributed to increased contact between the Nordic countries and Baltic States, and to increased knowledge of the Nordic countries therein. They got to know quite early on how our welfare societies work, how minority rights are guaranteed and how the legislative process works. Since they became EU members in 2004 there has been talk of mutual exchange between the Baltic States and the Nordic countries – that we should learn from one another. What have we learned so far from the Baltics? The Baltic States have picked up impressively since the financial crisis. We can learn a lot from that. No one knows what the future holds – suddenly it’s us facing major economic problems. The Council of Ministers also has offices in Russia – in St. Petersburg since 1995 and in Kaliningrad since 2006. Should contact with Russia be further intensified? It’s good that we’re in Russia. But increased contact? No, it’s at a reasonable level right now. We shouldn’t take too big a bite. Now the focus is on deepening contact between EU and EEA countries.


But both the St. Petersburg region and Kaliningrad could benefit from more cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region? Sure, but experience has shown that many decisions still have to go through Moscow, making collaboration difficult. It’s a pity, but that’s how it is. How do you see increased contact with northern Germany and northern Poland? It’s important to constantly remind national politicians in Berlin and Warsaw that these large countries are also on the Baltic Sea. Sometimes they’re so preoccupied with other problems that they forget this affiliation. In the case of Germany, it’s fortunate that the states have as much independence as they do within their own budgets. This promotes Baltic Sea cooperation.

But part of cooperation around the Baltic Sea is also about economic sacrifice for the sake of the common environment. Not all countries are ready to make such efforts, given the tough economic times. Regional cooperation

Johannes Jansson/

Regional cooperation


21 years ago: five turbulent days Former Danish Ambassador to Estonia Uffe A. Balslev describes the events in the Baltic States 21 years ago when the offices of the Nordic Council of Ministers were opened in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Another version of this article was published in the Estonian newspaper Postimees on 20 January 2011.

20 January 1991 was a tense Sunday. As a young Danish diplomat posted to the Soviet Union I flew into Tallinn on the late afternoon plane from Moscow – somewhat anxious because my masters in the Danish government had given me what seemed an impossible task.    The situation around the barricaded Estonian parliament and elsewhere in the Baltics was worrying. It was only a week since the bloody events at the TV tower in Vilnius, and on that very day a similarly worrying confrontation in Riga culminated in the loss of seven more lives at the hands of armed units of the Soviet government. There was a real and general fear that new reactionary forces in the Kremlin were in the process of rolling back the democratic achievements I had witnessed in Moscow and in the Baltic republics in the previous years.    My difficult task was to assist a colleague from the Secretariat of the Nordic Council of Ministers in finding and renting premises for an information office – in all three Baltic capitals and in just five working days!    The need to do so had actually been triggered by the violence in Vilnius. That year Denmark held the rotating presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The decision to open offices had already been made in October, but after the events in Vilnius the President of the Council, the Danish Minister for Nordic Cooperation Thor Pedersen, urged that as a sign of Nordic solidarity in a tense situation it should take place during his forthcoming visit to the three Baltic capitals.    My original anxiety proved unfounded. Due to the fervent support from the new government, Foreign Minister Lennart Meri and the city authorities our mission to find both office space and an apartment for the new director was successful. At a reception in Tallinn the following week Minister Pedersen, accompanied by Secretary General Fridtjof Clemet, marked the opening of the new office in a wonderful medieval building on Tolli Street in the Old Town.    We were in Tallinn for less than two days. Our journey took us to Riga and Vilnius with the same task and the


same success. I remember staying at the Ridzene Hotel in Riga, stepping over piles of glass from mirrors and windows shattered when a black beret had fired his automatic weapon into the lobby. In Vilnius we met President Vytatutas Landsbergis in the Lithuanian parliament, as well as the brave young men with hunting rifles posted behind makeshift sandbag defence positions, ready to defend the building floor-byfloor.    The opening of the offices was an important political event – not only because of the Nordic solidarity with the Baltic struggle for liberation that it signified, but perhaps even more because it heralded the convergence of the policies of the five Nordic governments vis-à-vis the region. As the Baltic States got closer to their ultimate goal, helped by free elections and the events of January 1991, the nuances between Nordic policies in regard to Moscow and the Soviet annexation of the Baltics lost their importance. Now the Nordics were supporting the Baltic independence struggle jointly and, just as importantly, this support for the Baltic States helped strengthen internal cooperation between the five Nordic countries.    The offices of the Nordic Council of Ministers have since concentrated on the perhaps less spectacular but no less important work of running day-to-day projects aimed at integration, peopleto-people exchange and cultural, environmental and educational cooperation. The important twinning and exchange of civil servants and experts which came later has proven to be a great success. Over the past twenty years the NordicBaltic region has grown together at a stunning pace.   

Now the Nordics were supporting the Baltic independence struggle jointly and, just as importantly, this support for the Baltic States helped strengthen internal cooperation between the five Nordic countries. Regional cooperation

Then Danish Minister for Nordic Cooperation Thor Pedersen and Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Valdemaras Katkus opening the NCM information office in Vilnius in 1991. Photo:

Regional cooperation


New challenges for Baltic Sea cooperation – for the Nordic and Baltic countries The number of cross-border activities in the Baltic Sea region has increased greatly in recent years. What role should the Nordic Council of Ministers play in this new landscape? By Påhl Ruin freelance journalist, Sweden It’s not just the individual Nordic countries – bilaterally and through the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) – who aim to increase contact. There is also the European Union, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Council of Europe, the Arctic Council and the Nordic Council parliamentarians, not to mention all of the voluntary organizations, cities and regions, as well as a large number of other public parties. The situation was completely different when the NCM opened its offices in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1991 and in St. Petersburg in 1995.    Cooperation with the Baltic States entered a new era with their EU membership. Throughout the ’90s and into the ’00s, it was about helping them catch up, supporting them in building up everything from democratic institutions to sewage treatment facilities. For the last couple of years the focus has been on exchanging experience; learning from one another. The Nordic countries are involved, for example, in some of Estonia’s expertise in e-democracy and other IT issues. But, to be honest, this mutual exchange has not yet really taken off – partly because the Baltic States are still behind in many areas; partly because there remains a humanitarian approach on the Nordic side obstructing a vision for what the Baltic States can offer in exchange.    The prerequisites for contact over the Baltic Sea – and not just between the Nordic countries and Baltic States – have also changed so that there is currently a political programme that did not exist when the NCM formulated its current guidelines for cross-border cooperation in the region: the EU’s Baltic Sea Strategy. This strategy contains a framework within which everyone involved must act. Perhaps the strategy contributes to a little more order in the jumble of initiatives, projects and programmes for the region. Also, for purely economic reasons, all of the stakeholders are keen to stick to the strategy when new projects are being planned: if the project falls within the framework of the EU’s priorities, there is always a chance of getting EU funding.


   What should be prioritised in the region? The Baltic Sea Strategy is based on four pillars: improving the environment; increasing prosperity; making the region more accessible and attractive; and increasing safety and security. This of course embraces an ocean of initiatives and different priorities depending on the countries and parties involved in cooperation.    As we know, Russia is not formally linked to the Baltic Sea Strategy. The NCM has a clear focus on the inclusion of north-western Russia in its work. In 2006 it even opened an office in Kaliningrad. What this office and the office in St. Petersburg have achieved so far is beyond the scope of this article. But the presence in Kaliningrad has boosted opportunities of finding more Nordic-Baltic-Russian projects in the name of the NCM. For this Russian enclave that borders Lithuania and Poland, it can often seem more natural than for the St. Petersburg area to initiate partnerships with EU countries. The NCM office in Kaliningrad recently completed a successful project on energy efficiency in which both Lithuanian municipalities and the NCM office in Lithuania were involved. To reach young people an Internet game was developed with tips on how to save energy in various ways. One of the points was that the Lithuanian experience in this area could be of value to the Russians in Kaliningrad: they share, after all, the same Soviet past.    Nordic collaborative projects that include only the Baltic States differ from those including Russia – a difference that has grown since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania became EU members in 2004. Industrial policy cooperation with the Baltic States, as an example, is primarily about building clusters of companies and promoting creative industries, while contact with Russia often relates to regulatory issues and patents. And democracy is higher on the agenda in collaboration with Russia than with the Baltic States. But the differences should not be exaggerated. The subject areas are generally the same: education and research, energy

and the environment and economic relations.    One of the major projects in the 2000s that involved both Russia and the Baltic States was the Baltic Euroregional Network (BEN), which was driven from the NCM office in Lithuania. The aim was to create networks in the nine participating countries and to exchange experience on all levels: national, regional, local and between NGOs and international organisations. It ended in 2008 with the hope that the newly established networks would provide a ripple effect in the form of spontaneous cross-border collaboration. There has not been an abundance of such collaboration, which indicates that there is still a need for parties in the region whose task it is to launch new projects across national borders.    The NCM is unanimous that crossborder work requires, beyond good coordination, also a clear division of roles. All of the organisations involved have to provide support in terms of what they do best and make use of their resources. As for the NCM, we know that it has extensive experience of Nordic cooperation, but in addition there are well-established structures in the Baltic States and north-western Russia. During the last 20 years these have developed into a vast network. The task and challenge now is to make the most effective use of this potential for wider cooperation in the Baltic Sea region.

There has not been an abundance of such collaboration, which indicates that there is still a need for parties in the region whose task it is to launch new projects across national borders. Regional cooperation

Karin Beate Nøsterud/

Regional cooperation


Nordic-Baltic cooperation has a lot to offer. We share common values, we combine clear principles with sound pragmatism, and we often have a common agenda. This allows us to speak with one voice internationally and to combine our efforts in the international organizations of which we are all members. Our cooperation has grown and matured over the last 20 years and will continue to do so in the years ahead. Villy Søvndal Foreign Minister of Denmark

The most urgent issue facing the Nordic countries and Baltic States is the same one all of the countries in the world are facing: namely the challenge of sustainable development discussed at one of the most important United Nations conferences of the year, Rio+20. About 80 million people live around the Baltic Sea, which is one of the most polluted in the world. These problems are far too big for any one country to address on its own. Erkki Tuomioja Foreign Minister of Finland

The most important thing is for the Nordic countries and Baltic States to become a region that is as unified as possible in all areas of life. Essentially, differentiating between ‘Nordic’ and ‘Baltic’ should cease. Estonia, for example, is both a Nordic country and a Baltic State. So action needs to be taken in all areas that help increase this unity – this means developing physical and intellectual ties alike; new energy and transportation connections, such as Rail Baltic; the exchange and co-operation of school students, university students and researchers; a functioning internal market free of obstacles (plus a digital internal market); environmental protection; and much more. Our region must offer a feeling of security to its people, even during turbulent times. Urmas Paet Foreign Minister of Estonia

In the past 20 years Nordic-Baltic cooperation has evolved into a close political partnership with fruitful practical collaboration. Our countries share common values of human rights, democracy, rule of law and economic and human security. The leaders of the eight countries meet frequently to deliberate on issues of common interest. This work influences policy-making within key regional, international and European organisations. This work remains our most important task. Össur Skarphéðinsson Foreign Minister of Iceland


NB8 cooperation in the near future

I am convinced that Nordic-Baltic cooperation has great and sometimes unfulfilled potential. In order to become more competitive in the world and Europe we should think and act regionally. The issues of the common energy market, climate change, education, demography and labour migration, the joint digital market and security are just some of the areas that have potential for closer integration. Edgars Rinkēvičs Foreign Minister of Latvia

Social welfare in the Nordic and Baltic countries is being challenged on many fronts: demographic changes, increased mobility and an aging population are all important factors. There are pockets of high unemployment. People are leaving their home towns and villages. Large numbers are emigrating. In some areas skilled labour is becoming hard to find. All eight countries are facing rapidly increasing pension obligations and health care demands. In Norway’s view, we should make active use of Nordic-Baltic cooperation to address these challenges together, and our common focus should be on protecting and developing the welfare state, building strong people-topeople contacts, promoting cultural and educational cooperation and joining forces to combat crime. Espen Barth Eide Foreign Minister of Norway

The Nordic-Baltic eight has shown remarkable strength and principles in the face of the global financial crisis. I would say that working for a financially responsible, competitive and prosperous Europe is a major challenge – and will mean pressing ahead with a lot of individual and coordinated effort considering the European and global economic environment. This in turn means that we should continue with our Nordic-Baltic financial stability group in combination with smart growth, further integration of our economies and energy markets and moving forward with the single market. Audronius Ažubalis Foreign Minister of Lithuania

Ties between the Nordic countries and the three Baltic States are strong for historical reasons and are further strengthening thanks to increasingly close political, cultural and in particular economic contact in recent years. This includes, for example, continued work to tie the Nordic and Baltic electricity markets together, thus promoting increased trade and growth in the region. Of the world’s ten most competitive economies, four are located on the Baltic Sea and that is where growth within the European Union lies today.   Sweden is also keen to increase cooperation with its ‘eastern partners’ in order to support forces behind democratic and economic reforms in Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and to tie these countries more closely to Europe. Carl Bildt Foreign Minister of Sweden

NB8 cooperation in the near future


ABOUT THE AUTHORS Anders Bjerre is a senior fellow at the CIFS (Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, He has worked on a broad range of projects, with clients from Taipei to Trondheim. His fields include future work and organisation, future daily life, home and family, future construction and cities and future communication and identity. He regularly teaches scenario planning and other futures-related methods. Arko Olesk is the head of Science and Innovation Communication Centre at Tallinn University and a journalist working for the biggest Estonian newspaper Postimees where he covers science. Carita Peltonen has been working in the Baltic States since 1995, when she was asked to map ongoing activities between the Baltic States and Nordic countries. She served as the director of the Estonian office of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 1998; she has been involved in the Femina Baltica project; and she was the director of the Gender Equality and Future Conference – 2nd Baltic Sea Conference held in Helsinki in 2000. From 2000–2009 she worked as a senior adviser at the Secretariat of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen, coordinating Nordic-Baltic gender equality cooperation. Carsten Beck is the research director at the CIFS. His fields include the environment and ecology, books and media, scenarios and sector analysis. He has worked for a large number of clients all over the world. The CIFS is a research-based think tank that strives to create awareness of the future and highlight its importance to present-day decisions. The CIFS works for both private and public organisations around the world, creating tailor-made analyses, training seminars, keynote presentations and strategies for achieving new visions. Dace Melbarde is the Director of the Centre for Arts Education and Intangible Heritage in Latvia. During her professional carrier she has been a Country Manager of the British Council Latvia, Under-Secretary of State for culture policy at the Latvian Ministry of Culture and Secretary-General of the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO. Her greatest achievement is related to her authorship of the Latvian Cultural Policy Guidelines 2006–


2015 “Nation-State”. She graduated from the University of Latvia specialising in history. She also has Master’s degrees in arts and public management. She has been a guest lecturer at the Latvian Culture College, the Latvian Academy of Culture, the University College of Economics and Culture and Alberta College. She gives lectures and has many publications and presentations to her name on cultural policy, cultural governance, international cultural relations, creative industries and creative cities. Gints Jegermanis is a diplomat and is currently serving as the Ambassador of Latvia to Denmark. In 1990, after graduating from the University of Latvia, he started working at the Latvian daily newspaper Diena as a commentator, later becoming its deputy editor-in-chief and head of its commentary department. Since 1994 he has been working for the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1998 was appointed Ambassador of Latvia to Estonia; in 2001 he became the Permanent Representative of Latvia to the UN in New York; and since 2009 he has been the Ambassador of Latvia to Denmark. During his diplomatic service in Denmark, he has sought to bridge the gap between the two modes of public awareness regarding the green growth economy and its possibilities as well as to facilitate cooperation among countries in the Baltic Sea region. In view of the twists and turns taken by the European Union and Western countries in the 21st century, he believes that cooperation between the Baltic States and Nordic countries is one of the pivotal items on the manifold agenda of Latvian foreign policy. Jānis Brizga is the chairman of the NGO Green Liberty in Latvia and of the NGO network ANPED – The Northern Alliance for Sustainability. Previously he was the Environmental Policy Programme Director at WWF Latvia and the Executive Director at the Latvian office of the Clean Baltic Coalition. He obtained his Ph.D. in Geography and Environmental Science and his Master’s degree in Social Science and Public Administration at the University of Latvia. He is working on issues of sustainable development and sustainable consumption governance and environmentally friendly behaviour. He is a member of the European Society for Ecological Economics and of the ELEEP Network. Linnar Viik is a member of the board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and an associate professor of intellectual capital theory at the Estonian IT College. He is a former advisor to the prime minister of Estonia and to the United Nations Development Programme. He has served as a counsellor at the Stockholm Environment Institute and has been the founder and a member of the board of several mobile communications, broadband and software companies. He is widely heralded as Estonia’s “Mr. Internet” for his vision and success in integrating ICT into Estonian society and daily life.

Margarita Jankauskaite has built her professional experience in the field of gender equality policies, gender representation in mass culture and gender-based violence. As a project manager at the Centre for Equality Advancement she has developed and managed projects on gender mainstreaming at the local and central government levels, men in gender equality, gender equality in education and work/ life balance. As an external gender expert, she has often been called upon by the national government and international organizations to provide expert analysis, including in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Turkey. From 2009–2011 she worked as a UNDP gender expert and trainer in Ukraine. From 2004–2006 she was the elected Ambassador for Diversity against Discrimination in Lithuania. In 2011 the US embassy honoured her with the Women of Courage award, and in 2012 she was nominated and selected by EIGE as one of twelve women figures on the “Women Inspiring Europe” calendar. Påhl Ruin is a freelance journalist living in Vilnius. He specialises in the Baltic region but also has written extensively on the EU’s importance at the local and regional levels. Peep Mühls was the CEO of the Estonian Cooperation Assembly at the time of writing this article. The Estonian Cooperation Assembly (Eesti Koostöö Kogu, is a cooperation network and think-tank for organisations and nongovernmental institutions interested in Estonia’s long-term development. Currently the assembly focuses on four key areas: education; population; ethnic relations; and modernisation of public administration. Per-Kristian Foss is a member of the Norwegian delegation to the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council’s Presidium. He has been a Member of the Storting since 1981 and was Norway’s Minister of Finance from 2001–2005. Uffe A. Balslev was Denmark’s ambassador to Estonia from September 2009 to July 2012. He has worked for the Danish Foreign Service for 25 years, with previous postings in Moscow (1989– 1992, as mentioned in the article), NATO Headquarters in Brussels and the United Nations Security Council in New York. He has also served as Danish ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia, with residence in Kyiv.

About the authors

Berth Sundström has been the head of the NCM Office in Estonia since January 2011. Before that he worked as Director for Government Affairs for a multinational pharmaceutical company in Finland. In the past he worked with the NCM as the Head of Information at its secretariat in Copenhagen. On the national level he has worked for the Finnish government as well as for the national broadcasting company YLE, as a journalist on TV and on a managerial level for several years.

Nordic cooperation in the Baltics

Bo Harald Tillberg has been heading up the NCM Office in Lithuania since 2009. Previously he has utilised his Master of Laws and knowledge of Russian and Estonian in a number of positions in courts and government offices in Sweden. He has also worked as a lecturer at Tallinn University in Estonia, as well as the consul and head of the Migration Office at the Swedish Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Nordic Council of Minister’s Office in Latvia Marijas iela 13/3 (Berga Bazārs), Riga, LV 1666 Phone: +371 67820089; E-mail:

Imants Gross is the director of the NCM Office in Latvia. A lawyer with a Master’s degree in European law and international relations, he has 30 years’ experience of international affairs, business relations and development, diplomacy and politics in Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea Region, the EU and Africa. He has served in the Swedish and Latvian government offices and foreign services, and was Latvia’s first ambassador to Sweden and Norway after it regained independence. He is also a photographer with several personal exhibitions to his name.

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ offices in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius represent Nordic values and cooperation in the Baltic States. Nordic Council of Minister’s Office in Estonia Lai 29, 10133 Tallinn Phone: +372 627 31 00;
E-mail:     Põhjamaade Ministrite Nõukogu esindus Eestis

    Zmp Birojs Latvijā Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Lithuania Didzioji 5, LT-01128 Vilnius Phone: +370 5 212 22 11;
E-mail:     NORDIKAI

    Common Facebook profile in Scandinavian:     Nordiska Ministerrådet & Baltikum Nordic cooperation is one of the world’s most extensive forms of regional collaboration, involving Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and three autonomous areas: the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland. Nordic cooperation has firm traditions in politics, the economy and culture. It plays an important role in European and international collaboration, and aims to creating a strong Nordic community in a strong Europe. Nordic cooperation seeks to safeguard Nordic and regional interests and principles in the global community. Common Nordic values help the region solidify its position as one of the world’s most innovative and competitive. Webpage for the official cooperation in the Nordic region:

ISBN 978-9949-30-745-6

Profile for Nordic Council of Ministers' offices in the Baltics

MORE is better: Nordic-Baltic cooperation 1991–2031  

In this book we have given the floor to Baltic and Nordic specialists. We have asked them to focus on the challenges of the future, with the...

MORE is better: Nordic-Baltic cooperation 1991–2031  

In this book we have given the floor to Baltic and Nordic specialists. We have asked them to focus on the challenges of the future, with the...