Tuesday, March 04, 2014

PRESTO Final Conference - the last full scope project’s event, but the first opportunity for partners to learn about waste water management in Finland

As reported before, central event of PRESTO Final Conference – Helsinki Public Forum “Save the Sea – Investing in Waste Water Management in Belarus” has marked project’s ending. However, PRESTO partners’ programme included several other meetings and excursions, taking place during 11-13th of February.

At Kakkola WTTP. Photo: Nicholas Petroff
In the morning before the Public Forum, partners visited Viikinmaki wastewatertreatment plant and Aalto University’s Water Laboratory. The first group went to the largest WWTP in Finland, the Viikinmäki plant, treating the domestic and industrial wastewater of the capital city and five neighbouring municipalities. The second group had the opportunity to gain an insight into the work of Water Laboratory at Aalto University’s School of Engineering, which is an excellent example of the water sector education in Finland.

Forum Marinum collection. Photo: Paulius Vaitelis
The next day, project consortium headed to Turku, where were scheduled two more excursions and a ferry cruise to Stockholm. Site visit to Kakkola WTTP enabled participants to compare the plant with the one previously visited in Helsinki, and therefore to have a more general idea of the modern waste water treatment in major Finnish cities. Also, project partners have visited Forum Marinum Maritime Centre and learned about seafaring and ship-building history of Turku and other ports in Finland.

The ultimate exploration took place on the Viking Grace ferry cruiser to Stockholm. The ship, completed in Turku shipyard in 2013, represents the new generation of environment-friendly large scale passenger ferry powered by liquified natural gas. 

During the cruise the final Partners seminar was organized to summarize project activities and achieved results, and finally to get to know the Baltic Sea from the personal encounter.

“One thing is to talk about saving the sea that you have never seen with your own eyes, and a completely different - to commit yourself for improving something that you have personally experienced” – commented one of the Belarussian partners.

Baltic Sea. Photo: Nicholas Petroff.

 Text: Olena Zinchuk

Monday, February 17, 2014

Saving the Baltic Sea by Investing in the Waste Water Management in Belarus

Public Forum of PRESTO Final Conference entitled “Save the Sea – Investing in Waste Water Management in Belarus” took place in Helsinki on 11th of February 2014. The event has gathered around 90 participants representing waste water treatment utilities, universities and research institutes, engineering and technology consultancy companies, as well as local, national and EU officials and representatives of the international organizations (UBC, HELCOM), water associations (European - EWA, German - DWA, Belarussian - Aqua-Bel and Finnish Water Forum) and financial institutions (NIB, NDEP/EBRD, NEFCO).

Topics discussed during the conference concentrated on the benefits and challenges of implementing the transnational investments in Belarus, presented practical examples of cooperation aiming at reducing the nutrient load in the Baltic Sea Region, and tried to look into the future of European water management sector.

Björn Grönholm, Head of the Sectretariat UBC EnvCom, explaining “How did we do it?” in PRESTO project

The overall objective of the event was to summarize the achievements of the project, disseminate its outcomes and share the knowledge developed throughout over the two years of its duration. PRESTO kicked off in November 2011, and since then the project activities have resulted in the phosphorous removal investments at three Belorussian WTTPs in Grodno, Molodechno and Vitebsk; laboratory, measurement and other analyzing equipment at the Baltic WTTPs Daugavpils and Kaunas; and capacity building cooperation between the Technical University of Berlin and three universities that prepare water management specialists in Belarus. 

Text and photos: Olena Zinchuk


Friday, January 24, 2014

Cities and Towns in the Baltic Sea Region Want To Be Smarter

BSR Programme SEED Money Facility-funded project “Baltic Sea Region Urban Forum for Smart Cities (BUF)” held its concept development workshop on 19-20 January 2014 in Tartu, Estonia. Event gathered around 40 participants representing regional cooperation organizations, municipalities, businesses and research institutions from Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Denmark and Sweden - all united in their interest of pan-Baltic cooperation and determination to develop a platform for exchanging city-oriented smart solutions.

Andres Jaadla from Rakvere presenting Smart House initiative 

First half of the workshop presented case studies of smart technologies from which Turku, Estonia and Öresund region have benefited.
City of Turku began its cooperation with Siemens in 2012, focusing on mobility and building and energy effective solutions. Projects of this strategic partnership include the evaluation report for the light rail network planned for Turku, analysis for sustainable city districts, and developing future business models enabled by the municipality.
 Tartu based company Positium uses mobile positioning to conduct studies about movement patterns in Estonia, including commuting and domestic tourism. Outcomes of the studies can influence, for example, future solutions for administrative division and revision of transport connection routes.
Öresund Smart City Hub manages cooperation between the Swedish province of Scania (Skåne) and Denmark’s major island Zealand in several areas, most prominently climate issues, accessibility and mobility and development and innovation.

After a taste of tangible achievements of their colleagues, participants of the workshop were invited to the joint discussion about concepts behind the Baltic Urban Forum and format which it would assume in the future. Most popular areas in need of “smart” solutions appeared to be energy efficiency, mobility and health and social issues. Also, participants agreed that carrying out an annual event is solely not enough – it could be supplemented with, for instance, complex surveying of municipal needs and an established mentoring system.

Agreeing on the results of joint discussion
BUF project consortium agreed on the next steps in development and elaboration of the Baltic Sea Region Urban Forum. These would be a supplementary working group meeting in Copenhagen (March), followed up by the two workshops in connection to the Energy Cities' Annual Rendezvous in Riga (April) and to the Seminar of the UBC Commissions in Örebro (May). The concept of the Baltic Sea Region Urban Forum for Smart Cities will be ready and presented in the Baltic Development Forum Summit in June 2014 in Turku, Finland.

BUF is a project initiative taken jointly by the UBC Board, Baltic Development Forum and the City of Turku, in order to prepare a concept for a “Baltic Sea Region Urban Forum for Smart Cities”.

Text and photos: Olena Zinchuk