Baltic Sea Region stakeholders met in Hamburg

Over 300 people representing various organizations, including public authorities, policymakers, academia, and professionals met at the Interreg Baltic Sea Region (BSR) Programme Conference in Hamburg in October 2022 (Interreg Baltic Sea Region 2022a). The event attracted existing Interreg BSR project partners and anyone enthusiastic about new funding opportunities.

An outdoor photo of an old building serving as a city hall. It has a tower in the middle and a green roof. The building is located on a square, where people are walking in many directions.
Picture 1. The conference was co-organised with the Senate Chancellery of the City of Hamburg in the magnificent city hall of Hamburg. (Photo: Katerina Medkova)

On this occasion, the 2nd call for proposals for the Interreg BSR Programme was officially opened. The project applications can enable the BSR green transition and jointly shape the region to become innovative, water-smart, and climate-neutral. The project ideas need to be in line with one of four thematic priorities: Innovative societies (Priority 1), Water-smart societies (Priority 2), Climate-neutral societies (Priority 3) or Cooperation governance (Priority 4) (Interreg Baltic Sea Region 2022b). The total funding of Interreg BSR for the programming period of 2021-2027 is 250 million euros (Interreg Baltic Sea Region 2021).

The Interreg BSR Programme belongs to the Interreg family of key EU project funding supporting cooperation across borders. More specifically, it belongs to the transnational cooperation programmes type, which brings together actors from geographically and culturally similar areas forming a bigger area to jointly find applied solutions to common complex challenges (Interreg 2018, 3). Deepening synergies between various actors is also the aim of the Green Connect project led by the LAB University of Applied Sciences. Participating in networking events, such as the one of Interreg BSR in Hamburg, is a means for finding new international partnerships and developing new innovative solutions for reaching green transition and carbon neutrality in two participating regions in Päijät-Häme and South Karelia. (LAB 2022.)

Previous projects Highlights

It is not a better inspiration for future applicants than to hear success stories and concrete achievements from previously funded projects. One of them was IWAMA – Interactive Water Management project, which was the flagship project of the European Union Strategy for BSR in the 2014-2020 programming period. Agnieszka Ilola, Union of the Baltic Cities Sustainable Cities Commission, emphasized the birth of IWAMA as a continuation of the Interreg BSR Programme for 2007-2013 funded projects: PURE – Project on Urban Reduction of Eutrophication and PRESTO – Project on Reduction of the Eutrophication of the Baltic Sea Today. IWAMA focused on the capacity development of wastewater treatment operators, increasing energy efficiency, and advancing sludge handling. (Ilola 2022.) LAB University of Applied Sciences (former Lahti UAS) was one of the partners, responsible for capacity development. Link to IWAMA project

A photo taken indoors with a decorative interior and a big painting in the background. There is a colourful logo consisting of vertical lines projected on the painting. Under the painting, there is a stage, on which five people are standing. On the right side, there is a big screen with a list of speakers’ names. In the front, the audience is sitting on dark chairs facing the stage.
Picture 2. Listening to the IWAMA story was inspirational, and especially interesting for LAB, as one of the project partners. (Photo: Katerina Medkova)

As Ilola noted, throughout IWAMA, it was recognized that involving a wider pool of water sector actors, not only wastewater, is needed for reinforcing knowledge exchange, showcasing good practices exchange, and supporting lifelong learning of water experts. As a result, the Baltic Smart Water Hub was launched in the IWAMA project. The hub is an online platform that connects the international water community for smart water management in BSR. Ilola invited everyone to explore the hub and contribute by sharing new good practices. (Ilola 2022). Link to Baltic Smart Water Hub


Katerina Medkova works as an RDI specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences. She was working in the IWAMA – Interactive Water Management project and currently, she is also involved in the Green Connect project. Green Connect receives funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, granted by the regional councils of Päijät-Häme and South Karelia. The project also receives co-funding from the cities of Lahti and Lappeenranta.


Ilola, A. 2022. Interreg Travel Journal: project achievement – case IWAMA. Speech given at the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme Conference in Hamburg on 20. October 2022.

Interreg. 2018. 10 Things to Know About Transnational Cooperation. Cited 28 Oct 2022. Available at

Interreg Baltic Sea Region. 2021. Interreg Baltic Sea Region 2021-2027 kicks off!. Cited 28 Oct 2022. Available at,how%20to%20shape%20the%20region.

Interreg Baltic Sea Region. 2022a. Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme Conference 2022. Cited 28 Oct 2022. Available at

Interreg Baltic Sea Region. 2022b. Priorities 2021 – 2027. Cited 28 Oct 2022. Available at

LAB. 2022. Green Connect – Etelä-Karjalan ja Päijät-Hämeen EU-yhteistyön vahvistaminen. Cited 03.11.2022. Available at


Link 1. IWAMA. 2022. Welcome to the IWAMA project. Cited 28.10.2022. Available at

Link 2. Baltic Water Hub. 2022. Baltic Smart Water Hub. Cited 28.10.2022. Available at