Development of a Conversion Network in the Baltic .. (CONVERNET ..)
Development of a Conversion Network in the Baltic Sea Region
Start date: Apr 16, 2003,
End date: Mar 15, 2005
Conversion of former military sites is a pressing issue in the Baltic Sea Region. Not only municipalities and regions are still coping with the after-effects of around 3500 post-Cold War military base closures – several hundred facilities are currently being closed in restructuring processes of the respective national armed forces. These processes are set to continue and gain momentum in the future, given the changing security environment in the region.While the reduction of military sites is of course a welcome development, it does pose an immense challenge to the affected municipalities and regions. Currently, they are left more or less to their own devices in tackling this challenge. The difficult process of converting and redeveloping former military sites touches on social, economic, cultural and environmental issues, demanding a cross-sectoral approach to achieve the goals of sustainable regional development.The central objective was to create a strong transnational network of local, regional and national actors in the field of converting former military bases to civilian uses in the Baltic Sea Region. The network should: facilitate the flow of information and the exchange of know-how between the partners, define and document best practices, aid the partners in solving conversion-related problems and help the partners formulate a coherent conversion policy.The results and experiences of the network work were discussed and lead to the formulation of a Regional Conversion Action Plan, outlining policy goals and necessary support mechanisms, especially for the candidate countries.The aim of the CONVERNET-project is to create a transnational network for- organising thematic workshops and seminars,- collecting, sharing and disseminating information,- acting as a "conversion lobby" vis-à-vis third parties,- and helping the participating partners to develop innovative solutions by means of demonstration projects. Achievements: CONVERNET, having proved successful in creating a conversion network, draws more and more attention to conversion issues not only in the Baltic Sea Region.Through lobbying activities out of CONVERNET and at meetings on project or work package level, concrete results could be achieved:- Guidelines for conversion of the State of Mecklenburg – Western Pomerania have been influenced by CONVERNET activities- the CONVERNET-launched “Signal of Stavenhagen” (see 3rd Progress Report), lead to an inquiry to the European Commission by a member of the European Parliament, that was answered by Mr. Barrot. The answer encourages the conversion community to anchor conversion issues in the new generation of convergence programmes during the planning phase- bilateral contacts between CONVERNET partners lead to concrete steps for special partnerships- additional need of co-operation could be identified, leading to the development of a project application “Baltic Culture and Tourism Route Fortresses”, meanwhile approved by the INTERREG IIIB BSR Steering Committee and to close contacts to other actors in the BSR confronted with conversion issues (e.g. City of Hamburg, Latvian Housing Agency)- activation of ministries interested in conversion from Russia, BelarusOther project results put the conversion process a step forward in concrete cases:- the marketing of former military assets has been addressed several times at partner and WP meetings; respective documents on marketing as support for CONVERNET partners have been worked out- the question of social and economic consequences of base closures has been discussed based upon a working paper- technical studies, feasibility studies, development visions and concepts have been elaborated by different partners supported by CONVERNET and forming an input for the various discussions.Approximately 90.000 EUR have been spent as small scale investments into infrastructural measures (e.g. Information boards and hiking path at the Oder island, refurbishment measures at Fort Gorgast, an information center at Farösund as well as refurbishment of destroyed parts of barracks buildings in Vaasa / Finland). This grades up facilities at former military sites and is important especially in initiating the development of those sites, providing infrastructure necessary for the better accessibility for visitors and investors.
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