As a part of the Baltic Sea City Accelerator Programme, Race For The Baltic convened cities, experts, solution providers, science and research for the second Innovation Lab (November 7-8, 2016) to dive into specific challenges that municipalities are facing when it comes to water quality and to innovative new solutions.
The Innovation Lab, a 2 day event which coincided with the EUSBSR Annual Forum, provided an innovative arena for cooperation across countries, sectors, and stakeholders.
Goal of Innovation Lab:
The overall objective of the Lab was to continue to re-dine, identify, innovate and develop specific actions and projects needed in each city. By discussing specific challenges and sharing knowledge, cities and partners learned from each other and identified potential opportunities.
Visiting municipalities from Słupsk, Poland and Panevėžys, Lithuania shared challenges and best practices with Swedish municipalities of Värmdö, Vaxholm, Västervik and the Kalmar Region.
See the full two days program here.
After an inspiring introduction from Barbara Jackson Director of Race For The Baltic, Futerra, a sustainable communications agency, presented the importance and the opportunity presented with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as how communication and storytelling can be used as a vehicle to engage new stakeholders.
Four key challenges that municipalities face around the Baltic Sea were addressed during the Lab, with key presentations from cities and solution providers, as well as through roundtables.
The morning sessions focused on cost-effective solutions for individual sewers with a presentation by Ecoloop on innovative methods for sewage, followed by a case presentation from the municipality of Värmdö. From the roundtable discussions, participants exchanged ideas, shared their own experience, and explored new opportunities and partnerships. Värmdö has the potential to be a leading example for other municipalities with the similar challenges.
The afternoon session focused on the opportunities for turning sludge into resource. It allowed participants to explore the possibilities for using sludge for water, fertilisers and biogas, and to discuss the challenges municipalities currently face. Companies offering solutions like Ecofiltration discussed the topic with cities that are trying to work with sludge recycling like Mariehamn. Some of the main challenges that came out of the discussions highlighted the need to explore the demand for sludge products in local settings, but also to get an overview of the existing technologies in terms of sludge use.
Data cooperation and transparency in the Baltic Sea Region was discussed as the third topic of the day. Presentations from Quantified Planet, the Baltic Health Index from Stockholm Resilience Center and Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) presented how data could be used to improve knowledge and cooperation in Baltic Sea region. In terms of data, challenges include data collection and cohesive data sets, but also effectively communicating the findings with different audiences.
Day 2 emphasized on how initiatives could be financed and city-to-city collaboration across similar initiatives. Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) presented how to finance initiatives, followed by roundtable discussions focusing on project development. From the presentation, one of the main conclusions was the importance of stimulating cross-border projects in the region in order to make a sustainable and prosperous Nordic region. There is also a great need for new and innovative project financing models for Baltic Sea projects.
This Innovation Lab generated new opportunities, ideas and continued dialogue to accelerate efforts and initiatives for a sustainable and attractive Baltic Sea region.