Since the late 1980s and the end of the East-West conflict the division of the Baltic Sea Region has become a thing of the past and new structures of regional co-operation have developed. For example, the states and the regions, cities, ports, chambers of commerce and economic enterprises are co-operating.
Beyond the spheres of public politics and administration and private economy on th other there is civil society, the space where ordinary citizens can get involved and make their voice heard, where they can make a personal contribution to Baltic Sea co-operation, and where they can participate in shaping our common Baltic Sea region.
One way to do this is to get involved in co-operation between social movements, voluntary associations and initiatives that are Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in a wider sense.
They are independent from governments, they are Non-Profit Organisations (even though some of them make profits in order to finance their activities), they share and promote democratic values and they work towards common interests and the public good. In a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, we want to take stock of opportunities to participate and to influence.
NGOs can serve different important functions. They can act as pressure groups for broader societal interests, but they are not interest groups in the narrow sense of the word. They work towards different aims and interests, but they are united by a goal to develop a democratic society close to the people.
By cooperating and exchanging ideas and experiences, NGOs can inspire one another, disseminate ideas and solutions and spread information.
Since 2001, NGOs throughout the Baltic Sea Region have worked together in the framework of the annual Baltic Sea NGO Forum. In 2003, the Baltic Sea NGO Network was formed in order to organize inter-forum co-ordination.
The Baltic Sea NGO Network does not strive to represent all sectors and actors of civil society in the region, but our membership is open to every organisation to join us that shares our interest in developing and strengthening civil society in the Baltic Sea area, in order to build up the civil society of a truly united Baltic Sea region.
If your organisation is interested in Baltic Sea co-operation or you just think it could be, please feel free to contact the focal point of your country’s Baltic Sea NGO platform to learn more.