From 23 to 25 May, the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS) took part at the North Sea Region Conference which was held in the city of Bruges, Belgium. The conference has been the first and long-awaited face to face meeting after the pandemic struck and over 100 participants used the opportunity to meet each other again. For the PROWAD Link project, Cristina Nazzari and Harald Marencic of the Lead Partner CWSS attended the conference and took the opportunity to talk to the new project leader at the Joint Secretariat of the North Sea Programme, Katerina Kring (on the right of photo).
The event provided an occasion to meet stakeholders from the North Sea region and learn from the results and impacts of projects already completed, such as PARTRIDGE (enhanced biodiversity in farmlands), ProCirc (support circular economy in procurement), EMPOWER 2.0 (energy transition), or BEESPOKE (increase insect pollinators). In addition, participants were given useful tips on how projects can get in touch with the press and reach policy makers. On the last day, the new Interreg North Sea Region Programme 2021 - 2027 was presented to newcomers and experienced Interreg partners. The four new priorities are innovative economies, green transition, climate resilience and governance.
The main innovations included the small-scale projects and a new geographical scope of the programme. While the UK has decided to leave the programme, new areas in Flanders and the Netherlands and three northern French regions are now are now part of it. For the first time, the program also co-finances small-scale projects, which are shorter (up to 18 months) and have a smaller partnership size and budget compared to regular projects. Small scale projects can be good opportunity to test new ideas and partnerships.
"The conference was a great opportunity to exchange ideas on various topics with a large number of experienced project partners who share the common vision that collaboration and communication are the keys to successful solutions," concluded Nazzari and Marencic after the three-day intensive gathering.