The 26th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference in Hamburg was a great success. With the unanimous adoption of the resolution on cooperation, democratic participation and digital age, on innovative science and research as well as sustainable tourism, the conference was successfully concluded. By adopting the resolution, the delegates pointed out that the Baltic Sea Region is a role model for innovative science and sustainable tourism as well as for parliamentarian cooperation in the region.
The conference appointed Jörgen Petttersson from the Åland Islands as the new BSPC President. Carola Veit from Hamburg was appointed the Vice President of the BSPC.
Tourism in the age of acceleration
The second day of the conference in Hamburg began with a discussion about new prospects and challenges for tourism in the Baltic Sea Region and worldwide. The topic suited perfecly the fact that the year 2017 had been anounced by the United Nations as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The Vice Chair of the BSPC Working Group on Sustainable Tourism, Sara Kemetter from the Åland Islands, presented the working group’s final report to the conference. The working group had developed eleven recommendations to the governments of the Baltic Sea Region, all of which were included in the 26th BSPC Conference Resolution. “We will use our work and the recommendations in order to make a contribution that will strengthen sustainable tourism in the whole Baltic Sea Region,“ Ms Kemetter pointed out. The contribution made by the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Youth Forum to the final recommendations on sustainable tourism were presented by two young delegates, Friederike Schick from Hamburg and Elias Lindström from the Åland Islands. Improving education standards and raising the job status in tourism, switching to eco- and agricultural tourism, strengthening sustainable transport and launching a Baltic Sea Summer Ticket, those are just a few of the many ideas discussed by young people with politicians during the meeting of the BSPC Working Group in Kiel. The final report of the Working Group on Sustainable Tourism has been published on the website and additionally distributed in a print version to the conference participants.
Mr Molstad, the journalist and advisor on sustainable tourism to international institutions, confronted the listeners with fundamental questions regarding the future of sustainable tourism in a world in which approx. 1.6 billion people travel abroad for touristic reasons every year, in which social media drive the travel industry and change the demand structure. Mr Molstad claimed that tourism needed to move to a low-carbon future by making the business case for meeting targets grounded in climate science. The speaker provided the participants with the example of Norway which had launched a cross-sectoral Green Competitive Initiative as a direct result of the Paris Climate Accord. The Initiative aims to create sustainable travel and sustainable tourism in Norway by 2030. More positive examples of tourism industry efforts towards sustainability came from Dr Monika Griefahn, Chief Sustainability Officer at AIDA Cruises, Alexander Sirchenko, Vice Director General on the Development on Internal Tourism, TUI Russia, and Michael Otremba, Managing Director of Hamburg Tourismus GmbH.
More solidarity and more collaboration – the only solution to cope with the migration challenge. With a view to the next working group of the BSPC which has been established by the 26th BSPC, the conference also dealt with migration and integration.
Pedro Roque, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, expressed his conviction that migration was not going away, that it was not something that could be stopped but could only be organized better. The population of Africa numbers some1 billion people today and will reach by 2150 2.3 billion. Every day in Africa, 33 thousand young people enter the saturated labour market. Only 40% of them will be lucky enough to get a job. In this situation, he said, the only way to cope with that was to cooperate closely on the regional, European and global level.
Isabel Santos, the Vice-President of OSCE PA and theVice-Chair of the OSCE PA ad hoc Committee on Migration, in her speech “For a Coherent, Shared and Responsible Governance of Migration and Refugee Flows” underlined the fact that some restrictive policies, sometimes hostile public and political attitudes, combined with continuing arrivals and growing protection needs, lead to the suffering of families who choose the fastest rather than the safest route, taking impossible risks. They resort to smugglers, facing exploitation and abuse. They also face violence and are exposed to sickness, hunger and lack of care. Politicians, she noted, needed to start having a dialogue on what type of migration policy can be developed together in Europe.
Ms Maira Mora, the Director General of the CBSS Secretariat, announced the establishment of a new ad hoc/expert Working Group on Labour and Employment as a result of the meeting of labour ministers and their high level representatives from the Baltic Sea in Berlin on 15 June 2017. The topics to be addressed by the working group include labour mobility, demographic challenges, youth employment and the integration of migrants.
In the following vivid debate, the parliamentarians emphasized that closer cooperation and more action are required from the governments and international organisations, allowing the newly established BSPC Working Group on Migration and Integration to serve as a great platform for cooperation with the CBSS on such an important topic.
The conference was concluded with the unanimous adoption of the resolution, along with any changes in the rules of procedure as well as the agreement for the Working Programme 2017-2018.
The new BSPC President Jörgen Pettersson invited the parliamentarians to the 27th BSPC conference at Mariehamn on 26-28 August 2018.