decided at NGO Copenhagen meeting, march 24th / 25th 2001
The aim of this initiative is to secure the civil society and Baltic Sea-based NGOs a stronger role in the development of the Baltic Sea Region generally, and in relation to CBSS specifically. It is a response to the concern of a broad range of Baltic Sea-based NGOs about the current development-path of the Region. The Copenhagen initiative seeks collaboration with, other NGOs, nation states and regional fora.
At an overall level the present forum of NGOs wishes to emphasise that a sustainable development of the Region presupposes stability, which can only be achieved if development is considered as a multi-dimensional and integrated phenomena. Thus taking into account security, social, environmental, cultural, gender and economic aspects. This should be achieved through the principles of transparency, participation, coherence and accountability. Furthermore on a general level it is argued that the regional institutional fora supposed to integrate the Region and set the track towards sustainable development are in crisis and have lost momentum. Generally speaking they produce documents and strategies which are rarely transformed into action.
The NGO community is urged to strengthen its internal communication, networking, sharing of information and prioritise co-operation. Further, the NGOs commit themselves to increase cross-sector co-operation at domestic level with the aim of improving their working conditions.
The NGOs urge Governments to consider civil society building a key issue for development, allowing for public participation and democratisation. The NGOs emphasise the fundamental importance of a well functioning civil society regarding this aspect as having a crucial role for all kinds of activities.
The NGOs call for a strong inter-governmental framework based on high demands of quality in order to promote a strong Baltic Sea-region market based on social, environmental, gender and ethic responsibility. This could provide regional companies with a very strong, competitive advantage and at the same time contribute to sustainable development. The NGOs are keen to establish a dialogue with organisations and initiatives within the corporate sector working within such a vision.
The NGOs support sub-regional exchange and development of intellectual capacity.
"The Northern Dimension" and other regional initiatives should be given a civil society dimension and NGOs should be considered as consulting partners in the implementation of the action plan.
We urge the CBSS to use a broad concept of security emphasising soft and civil security. All confidence building measures, e.g. creation of a nuclear-free zone, should be considered and promoted.
The NGOs in the CBSS area recommend as representatives of civil society that they become actively involved in crisis management actions such as post conflict peace building, involving civil society in prevention mechanisms, and have consultative status or as a minimum be informed about other security measures.
The NGOs urge the governments to commit themselves fully to sustainable development as described in the Brundtland Report. Despite some progress in increasing energy and resource efficiency in production, the total net output and thus pressure on the environment is still increasing, and a much more comprehensive effort is needed. Thus we emphasise the need to revitalise regional structures supposed to be leading forces for sustainable development, such as CBSS, Helcom, Baltic Agenda 21, and Vasab. The revitalisation should be achieved particularly by securing NGO participation in the processes of implementation of the tasks formulated by these structures.
We call for all the CBSS governments and stakeholders to implement the principles of the Aarhus Convention and to ensure that people do really have access to information, decision-making processes and justice. Furthermore the NGOs urge all Governments in the Region to take serious action, regarding the problem of nuclear waste.
The NGOs note that an important economic influx is likely to come into the Region and the CBSS structures in relation to EU accession process. These financial resources should support sustainable development of the weakest regions, promote agri-environmental activities, safeguard the natural values and be used solely to promote empowerment, employment and environment in accordance with the principles of the CBSS.
Within the field of cultural exchange, co-operation between public institutions and NGOs should be supported as a potentially strong force in the development of the democracies in the Baltic Sea Region.
Attention should be paid to exchange of culture in the shape of art, film and literature as a way of preventing the spreading of stereotypes about other people in the Region. An increase in the number of translations must be supported. The NGOs furthermore believe, that the establishment of an annual literary prize would be a great opportunity for increasing public knowledge of literature from neighbour countries in the region.
Generally the NGOs emphasise the importance of a Baltic Sea region where all parties respect and implement the United Nation declaration on Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments.
In relation to trafficking in women the NGOs call for co-operation between governments and NGOs in countries of origin, transit and destination to address, take measures to combat and prevent trafficking in women.
It is considered vital for the social stability, that policies and measures be developed for supporting the poorest communities.
Finally, the NGOs ask the CBSS governments to improve the domestic conditions for NGOs. Furthermore, each country should secure financial conditions supporting the development of the domestic NGOs.
Various bi- and multi-lateral funding mechanisms must incorporate substantial space for the issues of civil society building, democratisation and education in all kinds of project interventions. Specifically, there must be better funding possibilities for NGOs to meet across the borders, to inform and educate the public and create independent expertise. The funds should be open for a wide spectrum of organisations and co-operation activities.
It is crucial that all CBSS government see themselves as economically co-responsible for the development of the civil society in the Region. For this purpose we urge that a new democratic fund be established, which should support financially the venues and headed by the CBSS commissioner.
The Copenhagen initiative wishes to support the Lübeck NGO forum initiative and other similar initiatives and it urges that a permanent NGO forum is established. It is recommended that the country of CBSS chairman-ship hosts an annual meeting of the NGO forum preferably as a back-to-back session with the CBSS meeting. The NGOs urge close co-operation between the governments and the NGO forum.
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