The City of Turku will be hosting the Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, even though circumstances have forced the event to go virtual. In terms of all technical and other arrangements, Logomo, which has navigated the stormy waters of the coronavirus outbreak skilfully, will remain the central venue.
The project manager’s spontaneous but confident response has lived on as a guideline for the virtual implementation, which was considered plan C to start with. The event for some thousand participants had already been postponed from June to October due to the coronavirus pandemic.
EUSBSR (The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region) is an agreement between the EU Member States and the Commission on strengthening cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. Turku was adamant not to lose the chance to host the EUSBSR Annual Forum 2020, which is applied for with considerable effort since Denmark waived the opportunity 18 months ago. Last year’s Forum was held in Gdansk, Poland.
“Turku has a long history in working to advance cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, especially in the fields of environmental protection and sustainability. We are honoured to host the EUSBSR Annual Forum for the second time – especially in these exceptional circumstances when the Forum this year will be held online from Turku, for the first time. For us this is a sign of trust and appreciation for the persevering work done by Turku,” says Mayor of Turku Minna Arve.
As the host of the EUSBSR Annual Forum, Turku has the opportunity to influence the event content and its preparations. Alongside the City of Turku, the main organisers are the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
“As the host city, we can add a local angle to the content and impress upon the decision-makers what issues related to the sea mean here in Turku. All conferences are important platforms for communications, branding and protecting one’s interests. There is always a content-related objective in addition to the goal of gaining income for the travel sector,” Akkanen says.
Virtuality is here to stay
The Annual Forum and its preparations present a valuable lesson for the City of Turku, which intends to share information generously with future hosts. The event model for the future will most likely be a hybrid where some participate physically and others virtually.
“People want personal contact, too, but virtual arrangements are certainly not going anywhere. It is not necessary to fly halfway across the world for every conference. Logomo is an excellent venue for a hybrid event,” Heikkilä says.
Mika Akkanen intends to be on location at Logomo when the Annual Forum begins, even though most of his work will take place before the event. The various phases of the organisation process have been too thrilling to miss the grand finale.
“I do not want to miss one second. I am very much interested in the virtual implementation and want to see how the technology works and where all the cables go. I will obviously try to stay out of the way,” Akkanen says with a chuckle.
As zero hour creeps ever closer, he is increasingly satisfied that the City of Turku and its partners were brave enough to accept the challenge despite the circumstances and ensure high-quality implementation for the event. It is a message to each and every one of us: life goes on despite many things being different.