On 4-5 October this year, the 14th EUSBSR Annual Forum gathers close to 500 experts in Riga to celebrate and reinforce multilevel cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. The forum is designed to communicate the work of the Strategy, its objectives, and achievements, and to stimulate policy discussions. The event is a unique meeting spot and networking opportunity for stakeholders of the Strategy, accompanied by a high-level stage programme and a selection of policy area-specific workshops

This year, the stage programme focuses on three themes: energy, climate, and the youth. The programme is curated by Andra Kuzmina from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, and Marta Bensi, Advisor to the Mayor on Foreign Affairs at Riga City Council. 

The Baltic Sea Strategy Point peeked behind the scenes and asked Andra and Marta about the process leading to the final programme. Read below to learn what to expect in October!


Energy, climate, and the youthA.Kuzmina M.Bensi

The main themes are classics, so to say. They have been topical for a long time and will continue to be so in the future. 

Climate change's impact on the Baltic Sea is a huge challenge and sustainable energy is critical for economic growth and development everywhere. The opening session of the forum Building Prosperous, Sustainable and Connected Baltic Sea Region in the New Geopolitical Reality is dedicated to these common challenges in the region and beyond and aims to address issues like guaranteeing stable energy supplies in times of both climate and geopolitical uncertainties and stimulating innovation and sustainable economic growth.

The organisers believe that by sharing knowledge, forming synergies between various policy areas, and implementing joint initiatives, the region can achieve greater results. In addition to the three main themes, they also see the importance of highlighting the support to Ukraine.

Young people are the ones who are going to live with the decisions we take now. Having youth as one of the three main topics for the forum continues the work done in the European Year of the Youth in 2022. Riga City Council has an active youth department, which has greatly contributed to the programme planning process. There will also be a designated youth panel Youth Empowerment 2.0 in the 21st Century - Trends and Policy Solutions, organised together with the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC).


A creative process with no ready-made solutions

Building a forum programme is a joint creative process. Starting from the autumn of last year, Andra and Marta have had multiple informal consultations with other ministries, the Strategy’s Policy Area Coordinators, and partner organisations, such as VASAB and the UBC.

Anyone who has read the EUSBSR Action Plan knows how wide a spectrum of topics the Strategy covers. Figuring out and deciding what are the most topical issues to highlight in 2023 has been a challenging and inspiring journey.

For the organisers, it is crucial to build a program that generates synergies among the experts and the political level represented in the Forum. When booking speakers, they have sought geographical, age, and gender balance in all programme slots.

The work with the stage programme has also been an informal test for cooperation in the region on a very practical level: Andra and Marta have been surprised and happy to note how keen and supportive people and organisations are to share knowledge and contribute to the programme.


Annual Forum do's and don’ts

Riga is easily accessible from all over central Europe. If you believe that you or your organisation have something to offer for regional cooperation, and you are looking to expand your networks in the Baltic Sea Region, don't hesitate to register for the event.

Finally, a tip for participants from the organisers: Invest time and energy for the follow-up. Attending an event in Riga’s historic center (a UNESCO World Heritage site!) is a picnic - the real work starts when you get home and follow up with the contacts and ideas you have gained during the forum.




The event is organised jointly by the Riga City Council, Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC), and VASAB, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia and the Baltic Sea Strategy Point, and financial support from Interreg Baltic Sea Region.