On the 26-27 of April, forty participants were gathered for a study visit about cities and the environment. Organised by the Liaison offices of Norway, Estonia and Lithuania, together with RANNIS (Iceland) and the Latvian Council of Science, the visit was supported by the EEA and Norway Grants’ Funds for Bilateral Relations. Research administrators, project managers and EU advisors were among the participants from Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
The aim of the study visit was to increase the professional capacity of project managers by providing targeted information with added value from Brussels, raising awareness of the political context of European research- and innovation programmes and initiatives, in addition to building new networks. The training included presentations from different Directorate-Generals (DG), as well as interactive sessions where the participants shared their experience and best practices.
The first day was spent at the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the EU, with an introduction to learn more about the EEA and Norway grants and the underlying Baltic research programme and about R&I policies in the European Commission. Signe Ratso, Deputy Director-General for DG Research and Innovation, emphasized that the cities are at the core front in moving towards a more climate friendly world and essential in the work of synergies of Horizon Europe’s pillar two.
The last day took place at the Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU. With only one day away from the announcement of the EU Missions’ list of 100 climate-neutral and smart cities, the participants benefited from having both Matthew Baldwin, Deputy Director-General for DG Mobility and Transport and Johannes Klumper, Senior Expert for DG Climate present to discuss to what extent the cities will and can contribute to reduce climate change. Though the conversation was about the cities being in the best position to resolve global issues on a local level, Mr. Baldwin clearly stated that the elected list was not to be seen as a list of the 100 best cities. More importantly, he reminded the audience not to look at the upcoming process as a competition, but rather as seven years of hard work to deliver on the mission, and to collaborate with cities outside the list as well. NorCore congratulate the Norwegian cities Stavanger, Trondheim and Oslo for making it to the list. More about the EU Mission: Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities here.
Summing up the two days, final feedback from the attendants were – among others – that they had gained extended knowledge about collaboration between Nordic and Baltic countries, and a deeper understanding of the landscape and terminology within the EU, and that they were therefore going back home better equipped for their future work. It was unquestionable that being part of a physical event in Brussels, working interactively in groups and having the possibility to ask questions directly to the Commission, was highly appreciated.
By Theresa Aarhus, NorCore Trainee