Tuesday, 15 September 2020 12:01

Coming soon: EUSBSR Annual Forum 2020 - What to expect?

Written by  Let's communicate!

It is not far from now when the Baltic Sea Region family will meet again at the EUSBSR Annual Forum. On 20 October 2020, first ever online EUSBSR Forum will take place. Let’s Communicate project team took the opportunity to meet the organisers to find out what to await from this event.

Cover photo: Ardo Kaljuvee

One is sure – organisers are doing their best to make the participation at the online event as equal as at the event in-person. We met with the organisers from the City of Turku – Irene Pendolin, Ronja Koistinen, Päiviliisa Suonpää and Agnieszka Ilola and here is what they shared with us.

 

Despite the fact that this Forum will be held online, what will happen differently this year than before? What are the advantages of organising the Annual Forum online?

Actually, it is a huge fact that we are organising Annual Forum online because it has never been done before. It is a very first online Annual Forum, even though some of the previous events have been streamed online. To organise an online event is quite unusual, we feel that this will be a different kind of experience for participants, although, there will be all the same possibilities as in a regular event just we will miss the face-to-face part.

"We are trying to create as much as participatory and interactive experience online, that is our goal and a challenge at the same time."

Online event format is challenging for organisation but it gives more opportunities to the participants to join. You don’t have to travel anywhere saving not only your time and financial resources, but making event more friendly to environment as well. Participants can be in more flexible schedules either participating in the workshops beforehand or participating in more concise main event that is on 20 October. Let’s hope that this time the event will attract many new stakeholders that have the will to be heard at the Forum and this will unite the EUSBSR stakeholders more closely.

 

 

Do participants have to get ready for the Forum somehow special this year?

Not really, one thing that will be organised differently is that the workshops will take place before the main event. They will start already in mid-September and participants have to register for workshops separately. All workshops and registration links are available on the official webpage www.annualforum2020.eu.

"We expect participants to come open-minded and be ready to participate with tools we have prepared for interaction."

The connection to the main event is made as easy as possible. After registration, a link to enter the virtual event will be sent to all participants. Furthermore, an access via mobile application will be available.

 

The main theme of the Annual Forum is ‘Towards a Decade of Innovation and Sustainability’. How this topic will be reflected in the agenda?

The programme is built on three sections, three topics. First section will look more closely on the cooperation for Innovation and Sustainability – how can we better use the experiences and structures of the EUSBSR we have at the moment, which models of cooperation are working well and bringing the benefits we are satisfied with. Also, how to improve this cooperation, rethink existing models and start afresh, what new constellations and new ways of working we could still find to better implement the revised EUSBSR Action Plan and the Strategy. We will also look at the lessons learnt from Corona crisis and our responses to it.

"The second part of the programme will be focused more on the concrete examples of the cooperation within the EUSBSR."

It will bring the lessons learnt from the workshops and new emerging areas of joint actions, recommendations with improvements for better working together, for merging the expertise across the sectors.

The third part will be based more on the future, on how our cooperation will look like in the next 10 years. We will focus here on the revised EUSBSR Action Plan and discuss what new it offers to regional actors. We will bring to the discussion the European and global perspective, asking how the strategy will contribute to the implementation of the SDGs and EU Green Deal. Likewise, what new is coming in from the cooperation with the neighbouring countries like Russia and Norway.

 

How are workshops organised this year and how can participants join?

Workshops are integral part of the Forum, this year we have put more effort of making the cooperation between different policy areas more horizontally. At the very beginning we encouraged the workshop applicants to co-organise the workshops together with other colleagues from other sectors.

"Addressing the challenges in more comprehensive way and taking into account various approaches and sectors on board, will give more ideas on the table."

This co-creation of workshops will ensure interactive format of the workshops – bringing different content from practitioners, academia and decision-makers bringing the essence of what is going on now and for what issues we want to find solutions as well as welcoming participants to share their ideas.

 

 

What are some of the highlights of the Forum that you can already reveal?

Input for the programme was very much stakeholder driven, we have had much input from National Coordinators, Policy Area and Horizontal Action Coordinators. The audience and the ones who joined the workshops will have a chance to give an input to the programme during the event on 20 October.

"We hope to have an environment around the Forum encouraging the discussions among the invited speakers and receiving much input from the audience as well."

There will be many possibilities to interact and share your ideas during the event. We expect to have participants not only as listeners, but also the ones who contribute around the different topics highlighted at the main ‘stage’.

If we talk about speakers, there will be around 20 speakers at the main event, we have invited high policy-level and European Commission representatives and other very important stakeholders that will be revealed in the upcoming weeks.

 

Is the number of participants limited?

Another advantage of an online event is the unlimited number of participants. We hope to attract at least 800 participants, that is the number of participants that joined the previous Fora, but since it is an online event only sky is the limit. We positively look at the fact that the online format could expand the audience a bit wider this time, everyone is very much welcome. Registration will be open soon.

"For those who did not manage to join on 20 October, can watch the event afterwards."

Sessions will be recorded and videos will be available after the event.

 

 

Networking has always been an important part of the Annual Forum. Will there be a networking village? How participants will be able to join networking part and what to await?

At the Annual Forum we will provide 3 simple ways how to network and participants can choose between these options. Before the event each participant will have a chance to create a profile with their background and interests. Also, those who don’t want to share their profile, can stay anonymous.

  1. First option how to interact with others will be at the main chat room during the event. Participants will have a chance to ask questions and reflect to presentations. Polls and questions will be asked to the audience to have a look at what’s the overall feeling about certain topic.
  2. Second option is ‘Chat and Meet’ virtual version – a private chat that can be started with anybody who created a profile and are visible in the networking chat list. All participants can have a look at the whole list of the people and browse to find people with common interests or expertise to start chat and share their views and thoughts. There is an option for a one-on-one video call to discuss the topics more closely.
  3. Third way will be a virtual networking village. Forum will host more than 20 virtual stands presenting HAC’s/PAC’s work as well as organisations from the BSR. Participants can browse the list of stands and visit the ones they are interested. Virtual stand will consist of different content – videos, pictures, maps, documents etc. Participants can enter a stand and just explore the information as well as it is possible to interact via chat or video call with the virtual stand holder. Networking village materials will be available a little time after the Forum, therefore participants are not rushed to visit all stands during the event.

In the programme there will be networking breaks when it will be possible to visit stands or meet people virtually.

"In case participant gets lost at the virtual event, there will be easily found assistance available that will answer all unclear questions."

We understand that for some participants interaction at the online event might be a bit scary but we encourage to give it a go.

 

What are your expectations from the EUSBSR Annual Forum?

We expect to see the online event bringing equal experience as an event in-person. Despite the fact, that we will be sitting behind a screen, we can still have a feeling that we are part of the Forum and can interact with speakers and each other. We hope to see the people who have joined previous editions of the Forum saying that you can still connect online and be part of a high-level programme and develop the strategy forward.

We expect broad participation from all countries around the Baltic Sea and prepare for interesting discussions leading to new ideas and solutions on how we can build together stronger and more connected Baltic Sea Region even in challenging times of pandemic.

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