And so… the first ever UK Nordic Baltic Summit duly took place – without the intervention of Vikings and longboats, as my previous blogs predicted – on 20 January at the Whitechapel Gallery in East London. The Prime Ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland , Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania travelled to UK with delegations of around a dozen business leaders, civil society and government representatives to pool their best and brightest ideas under three policy themes: technology and innovation, jobs, family and gender equality, and the green economy/sustainable business.
The morning’s business at the Whitechapel Gallery consisted of 45 presentations grouped into three sessions, one on each policy theme, with five breakout groups running simultaneously each time. Each theme had a Chair and the Prime Ministers spread across the breakout groups and joined the other participants in listening to the presenters and joining in lively discussions afterwards. After lunch the Plenary session was opened to around 100 media representatives from across the region and David Cameron asked each Chair in turn to report back on the morning sessions and to moderate comments from presenters and PMs.
And this did indeed prove to be an exercise in Asummitry, innovative, sparky and thought-provoking. The concept of wellbeing worked its way through the themes of the conference, as did ideas that focussed on how to build strong family and social structures and promote innovation and entrepreneurship. There was also a strong interest in the idea that the UK, Nordic and Baltic countries could become an avant-garde for delivering jobs and growth and the potential for the North and Baltic Sea countries to become the world’s leading green region.
Of course a good part of the value of this kind of event is in what it delivers by way of follow up, but the networks and energy created in London will be a great platform. Meantime, do have a look at the presentations to the Summit.