On 14 - 15 September 2023, the joint meeting of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee and the Economics, Energy and Innovation Committee of the Baltic Assembly took place in Riga, Latvia.
During the first two sessions of the meeting, parliamentarians, government representatives, international partners and experts discussed balancing environmental protection, economic growth and social well-being, as well as protecting biodiversity in the Baltic States.
Chair of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee Tiit Maran opened the meeting by highlighting the long-standing dedication of the Baltic Assembly to fostering a sustainable circular economy, achieving climate neutrality, and recognizing the pivotal role of forest management in the region. He emphasized the necessity of unity and collaboration of the Baltic States to realize green growth, particularly emphasizing the agriculture and forestry sectors as driving forces behind the green transformation, given their substantial contribution to the Baltic economy and society.
The government representatives from the Baltic States highlighted common challenges that are related to sustainable economic development and the protection of biodiversity in the region. Experts and parliamentarians highlighted that a serious challenge is changing the habits of societies. Tiit Maran highlighted the importance of leaving no one behind and noted that the challenge of engaging people is a complex issue that could be collectively addressed in the Baltic States.
During the meeting, Vice Chair of the Committee for a Sustainable Nordic Region of the Nordic Council Staffan Eklöf added that protecting marine and land biodiversity requires an approach on many fronts that combines conservation efforts, sustainable development practices and international collaboration. "There are many solutions and opportunities to preserve the unique ecosystems and natural heritage of the Baltic region."
The last session of the joint meeting of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee and the Economics, Energy and Innovation Committee continued with discussions about the Baltic long-term strategy for energy security and independence in the region.
Chair of the Economics, Energy and Innovation Committee Priit Lomp highlighted the ongoing efforts of the Baltic Assembly to enhance energy security and independence in the region. He added that significant progress has already been made, including the reduction of energy imports from Russia following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, focus on diversifying energy sources through new liquefied natural gas infrastructure, increased investments in renewables, and faster synchronization with continental Europe’s electricity grid. He pointed out that the region would significantly benefit from a collaborative strategy among the Baltic States for long-term planning and policy-making.
President of the Benelux Parliament Pim Van Ballekom highlighted the urgency of an independent energy system due to Russia's war in Ukraine. He added that previous discussions regarding energy security consistently emphasized the importance of unity and solidarity, both within populations and among countries, therefore, he agrees that it is delightful to see that the Baltic Assembly made cooperation through unity, solidarity, and support as one of the priorities for 2023. "I am proud of the strong bond and excellent cooperation between our Assemblies. They are an example of cooperation throughout the EU and help us stand united against the aggression from Russia.’’
CEO of the Nordic Energy Research Klaus Skytte presented the Baltic-Nordic Roadmap for Co-operation on Clean Energy Technologies that highlights key areas and actions for joint energy research and innovation. Key areas mentioned in the roadmap for Baltic-Nordic collaboration include the development of the power system, the role of hydrogen, development of sustainable urban areas, decarbonisation of industry, advanced utilization of biomass, integration of carbon capture and storage, and the electrification of transport.
© Ieva Ābele, Latvijas Republikas Saeima & Secretariat of the Baltic Assembly