ODF Sweden Webinar Series – Governmental Strategies

– Governmental Strategies for a Sustainable Development

On March 16th, ODF Sweden hosted the 2021 March Webinar series with speakers Jessica Hjerpe Olausson (maritime expert from Region Västra Götaland) and Magnus Engelbrektsson (executive secretary of the CPMR North Sea Commission). Both speakers discussed development strategies from a governmental perspective, with a regional and international focus respectively.

Jessica introduced Region Västra Götaland’s strategies for competitive growth and sustainable development for 2030. Region Västra Götaland’s focus on the maritime is highly unique, as they are the only region in Sweden that has regional strategies for future innovation and long-term growth within the maritime sector. This is partly due to Västra Götaland’s interest in the fishing industry which makes up a large share of Sweden’s fishing industry and its geographical location that has been crucial for transportation and communication.

The strategies have been developed together with stakeholders in Västra Götaland and consist of four areas that they believe are of great interest for the future. 

  • Innovation – become a forerunner and strive for a competitive industry
  • Building competence – supply skills for a long-run learning
  • An inclusive society – for trust and unity
  • Connecting the Västra Götaland region

(Credit: Jessica Hjerpe Olausson)

They have identified 5 areas of particular importance for economy and employment, which they believe would strengthen their innovation capacity and lead to a society in transition:

  • A circular and sustainable industry 
  • Food, biobased material, and renewable energy
  • Mobility of the future
  • Health and life science
  • Tourism and creative enterprises

For successful strategy implementation, Jessica stated that it requires a joint effort from different sectors of the society. However, they try to keep an umbrella perspective rather than identifying the specific sectors. These five areas will continue to be the foci of the region’s innovation effort for the coming years. 

For more information on Västra Götaland’s development strategies, see: https://www.vgregion.se/regional-utveckling/regional-utvecklingsstrategi-for-vastra-gotaland-2021-2030/

And for more information on the maritime sector in Västra Götaland: Maritima klustret i Västsverige | Grupper | LinkedIn

The second part of the webinar was delivered by Magnus Engelbrektsson, executive secretary of the CPMR North Sea Commission. Magnus, a self-proclaimed “generalist”, started his international career long before he became the executive secretary of CPMR North Sea Commission. CPMR stands for Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, and is a think tank and lobbying organisation for more than 150 regions from 24 states from the EU and beyond, representing about 200 million people. It comprises 6 geographical commissions corresponding to Europe’s main sea basins and islands. With their joint voice, they want to campaign for their common challenges regarding territorial cohesion, maritime governance, transport and energy/climate policies. Despite having “peripheral” in its name, its mission is by no means unimportant. 

The CPMR North Sea commission is a cooperation platform for regions around the North Sea, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and a few members in the United Kingdom. Their main work focuses on developing and lobbying for policies, fostering transnational initiatives, and encouraging knowledge exchange in the North Sea region. 

According to Magnus, there were no EU development strategies for the North Sea, as opposed to the Baltic or the Mediterranean. In November 2020, the CPMR North Sea Commission adopted the North Sea Region 2030 strategy to work towards a more productive and sustainable, climate neutral, connected and smart North Sea Region.

To achieve the goals, the North Sea Commission worked out specific key areas they will focus their effort on. Magnus pointed out that there is currently a lack of coordinated maritime spatial planning across borders and administrative levels in the North Sea Region. Fisheries and aquaculture is a crucial sector for the countries in this region, but a sustainable blue economy is what the North Sea Region is aspiring for. Moreover, for the highly industrialised countries around the North Sea, energy efficiency, sustainable renewable energy production, carbon capture and storage are aspects that should not be overlooked. Most importantly, climate change does not affect countries in the North Sea region the same way, and the North Sea Commission’s goal is to make the entire region more ready, adaptable and resilient to climate change. Last but not least, Magnus emphasised that the scope of the North Sea goes far beyond its maritime space – it encompasses the land and region home to new and innovative industries and highly skilled workforce that would take actions towards a smarter North Sea Region.

(Credit: Magnus Engelbrektsson)

For more information on CPMR North Sea Commission and the development strategies, see: presentation slides from Magnus

The two speakers touched upon different priorities and strategies and highlighted the goals Region Västra Götaland and CPMR North Sea Commission want to achieve in 2030. Common recurring themes revolve around cooperation among sectors and different levels of government, cohesion, innovation, capacity building and skill sharing and a blue economy that is circular and sustainable.


(written by: Felicia Ridderbjelke and Yiqi Lin)

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