It was the first in-person meeting where all partners attended since the start of the pandemic for the partners of the Interreg project PROWAD Link. Around 30 representatives of the 15 partner organisations met on 4-6 May 2022 in Geiranger, Norway, upon invitation of Geirangerfjord World Heritage Foundation and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
With the project running until the end of 2022, most deliverables are done or ongoing. At the meeting, the project partners also took a moment to look back at the beginning of the project and at their intervention logic, remembering the goals they set out to achieve and comparing them to the actual achievements made since. “PROWAD Link has helped us take further steps towards sustainable development and to engage more stakeholders in knowledge partnerships and co-creation”, says Harald Marencic, project manager at the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat. “But we also discuss what we still have in front of us and how we can achieve these goals together – maybe in the framework of a new project.”
Going through the work packages and their statuses, the new video introducing the Wadden Sea World Heritage’s brand box premiered as part of the brand activation strategy promoting the use of the branding toolkit for small and medium-sized businesses.
In the work package on partnership schemes, the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat presented current projects of the trilateral Partnership Hub. New to the group, Karina Pool of Visit Wadden introduced the draft concept of a partner programme for the Dutch part of the Wadden Sea and how strategic partners have been approached so far.
On the topic of sustainable entrepreneurship, the recent winners of the North Sea Sustainable Innovation Challenge were shown and discussed how the partner could support them. Other topics included a resource website on sustainable entrepreneurship and the status on releasing the results of the transnational visitor survey held in the Wadden Sea region in 2020/2021.
In the framework of the co-creation work package, Marencic gave a status update on an exchange platform for stakeholders of the Wadden Sea World Heritage site and internationally. The platform is due to launch its beta phase this summer and will be an important tool for stakeholder interaction in the Partnership Hub.
Alex Larter of the University of East Anglia held a keynote on food innovation in the East of England, where a Food Innovation Cluster is being built including developing new products and businesses and promoting a region through food and drink.
Meeting in Geiranger, one of the three pilot regions of PROWAD Link, the partners also took the time to learn more about the fjord and talk to small and medium-sized businesses on sustainable entrepreneurship. The group visited Westerås Farm, where taking responsibility for the care of cultural landscape against the pressure of limits of available land were discussed among other topics. The family-owned Union Hotel talked about social responsibility supporting the local community and how that is deeply intertwined with using resources sustainably. The owner of Geiranger Brewery introduced the group to telling the story of Geiranger on bottles. Finally, the partners learnt more about the fjord and its Outstanding Universal Value on a boat trip guided by a Geiranger World Heritage fjord ranger and visiting the Geiranger World Heritage Centre.
“In the current situation we feel extremely lucky to once again meet in person”, says Katrin Blomvik Bakken of the Geirangerfjord World Heritage Foundation. “We have made it work with online meetings in the past two years. But nothing compares to the atmosphere and productivity of a live meeting. In just a few days, our guests have learnt more about our fjord and community than in the sum of the numerous virtual meetings before.”
The next and final partner meeting is scheduled on 1-3 November on the Island of Sylt, Germany.