Approach of the Baltic Sea region towards societal security to be discussed in Rīga
From a regional perspective, countries often face similar or even the same safety concerns and challenges, nevertheless a common societal security policy is an issue that has become a standing item on the agenda on the topic of regional security.
The novelty of such a perspective also means that currently the approaches of regional actors towards societal security are varied and contrasting because the strategies of national governments differ, along with differing interpretations of the notion of a “secure society” and of ways to promote it. The differences in national policies are determined not only by the historical culture of security and defence, but also by the interpretation of security threats, financial and military capacity, values and the political situation.
Societal security is not an obvious challenge in terms of international or transnational policies, yet it does not mean that these seemingly local problems should not and cannot be tackled at a regional level. Informing and educating the society of each individual country not only contributes towards social awareness, but also lays the foundation for the regional society to be able to cooperate in the shaping of a common security space at different societal levels – from the political elite through to municipal, NGO and other civil society groups.
As the concept of a “secure society” is relatively new for the Baltic countries, solving these issues at a regional level is still in the process of development, while public safety and civil society practices form an integral part of national and regional security and security policy in the Nordic countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. The five Nordic countries have been actively working on a regional cooperation platform for civil society and for the solving of societal security issues along with improving the situation. Although each country has its own specific approach to dealing with security concerns, cooperation has been achieved at a regional level in areas such as cybersecurity by establishing a common cooperation network CERT; in legislation, solving environmental, health and social affairs in the frame of Nordic Council and other formats; as well as transnational police training and a joint approach to ensuring security at high-level public events and establishing of a rescue service cooperation system NORDRED.
Furthermore, mutual regional co-dependence in the whole Baltic Sea region — not only in the separate group of Nordic countries — is inevitable due to global trends and brings negative as well as positive effects from an economic and military perspective, taking into account the changing and challenging security environment of the European continent where a country-centered approach to defence and security no longer meets all the modern challenges. Today, more than ever, the ability of society to resist and manage situations that expose people to safety risks or even endanger their lives has become not only a challenge for each individual country, but also requires broader research and a practical approach to educating the public on the theme of security.
On 27 November at 16 Dzirciema iela, Rīga the State Fire and Rescue Service, in cooperation with Rīga Stradiņš University, will host a conference devoted to the topic of security – “Societal Security in the Baltic Sea Region: Challenges and Solutions”. The conference will be held within the framework of Baltic Leadership Programme Alumni, with graduates of the program participating, as well as local and international experts in the field of communication, security and public education.
The goal of the conference is to provide a comprehensive insight into and discuss various solutions to the problem of public security today, discussing various issues. Topics of discussion at the conference will also be public education matters that include not only the dissemination of informative materials, but also the use of new technologies and an integrated approach where civil protection and security questions are included in the education system itself, thus teaching them from childhood and at all levels of education – from pre-school to university.
Another topic for discussion will be that complex information on the topic of security — that is often difficult to understand — can be delivered to society in an understandable and informative manner, at the same time ensuring not only that the information ends up, but also stays with the consumer. An important aspect within this framework is the awareness of the society's groups and individuals themselves about the security of a society and its facets, necessity and usefulness for the joint establishment of a secure society within the region.