The Baltic Region

Current issue

Sustainable development of the Baltic Sea Region

Opportunities for sustainable economic development of the coastal territories of the Baltic Sea Region in the context of digital transformation

Abstract

The article explores opportunities for the sustainable economic development of coastal territories in the Baltic Sea region (BSR) arising in blue economy sectors in the framework of digital transformation. The study argues that a more active commercialisation of territorial resources can facilitate the sustainable economic development of the BSR coastal territories, following digitally-driven innovations. The paper provides an overview of methodological approaches to territorial sustainability. It also assesses the 2009—2018 level of the socio-economic development of the BSR coastal territories, underpins the importance of the blue economy and highlights the role of digital transformation in reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the BSR through digitally-driven innovations. A comparative and problem-targeted statistics analyses show significant differences in the level and dynamics of socio-economic development in the BSR coastal territories with their GRP per capita being generally lower than the national or macroregional average. A review of literature on sustainable development in the BSR has shown that a more active use of unique resources of the coastal territories along with a technology-driven growth of blue economy sectors can counterbalance the negative impact of the territories’ uneven development on the progress towards the SDGs in the BSR. Increasing the competitiveness of the BSR coastal territories requires investment in digital solutions in the blue economy sectors and the creation of a communication infrastructure. The review of key innovations in the blue economy sectors shows that their implementation gives impetus to other industries by reducing costs, creating new jobs, and improving the quality of products and services.

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Statistical analysis of tourism flows between Ukraine and the Baltic Sea Region countries in 2012—2019

Abstract

This article explores the features and trends in inbound and outbound tourism flows between Ukraine and the Baltic Sea region (BSR) countries in 2012—2019. The research question is whether inbound our outbound tourism prevailed and how visa-free travel to the Schengen Area affected the number of Ukrainians travelling to the Baltic Sea Region. Two data sources were used in the study. These are the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum and data from the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine on the number of foreign citizens visiting Ukraine and the number of Ukrainians travelling abroad. The study employs the statistical methods of structural shifts analysis, time series analysis, and graphical visualisation. The findings indicate that Ukrainian outbound tourism was growing steadily over the study period, whilst visa-free travel to the Schengen Area had no statistically significant impact on the number of outbound tourists from Ukraine to the BSR. Outbound tourism flow prevailed over inbound. The number of inbound tourists to Ukraine sharply declined after 2013 because of the socio-political situation in the country. The analysis reveals significant changes in inbound and outbound tourism flow structures. The COVID-19 pandemic is shown to be a critical factor influencing the current state and prospects of the tourism industry.

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In search of a theoretical framework for factors influencing work and life balance

Abstract

Work-life balance (WLB) has gained noticeable attention amid the pandemic. Yet before the outbreak of COVID-19, the increasing pace of life encouraged investigations into individual and organisational aspects of WLB. Physically and mentally healthy people help society develop and grow, whilst health issues caused by work-life imbalance lead to dissatisfaction with work and life. This discontent results in stress and stress-related illnesses, such as burnout. From the organisational point of view, WLB is a factor in the efficiency of an enterprise. Intentional or unintentional absence, high employee turnover, low productivity, higher insurance costs, and low job satisfaction are amongst the consequences of work-life imbalance. WLB has also been examined as part of employer branding, which is coming to the fore as shortage of labour prompts organisations to look for strategies for attracting and retaining employees.

This paper carries out content analysis to provide a theoretical framework for WLB and job satisfaction. It also offers a review of the literature on individual and organisational factors in WLB. Both groups of factors are found to be critical. These are job involvement, tenure, workload and scheduling, organisational culture (leadership, recreational opportunities, flexibility, supervisor support, autonomy, boundary management, alternative working methods etc.), occupational stress, and salary. In diverse fields, these factors have different weight.

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Current trends in the development of a green finance system: methodology and practice

Abstract

The concept of green growth and sustainable development is turning into a global ideology guiding the transformation of national economies. The focus is shifting from quantitative assessments of performance to rational choice conditions. Rationality is becoming the decisive factor behind sustainable green growth, and a change in the financial model that supports such growth may be needed. Therefore, the most urgent problems relating to sustainable growth are the transformation of the finance system, on the one hand, and the creation of a new financial paradigm based on the principles of responsible investment and corporate social responsibility, on the other. This study aims to consider the theoretical and practical aspects of creating a national green finance model ensuring sustainable growth in the Russian Federation. The development of a green finance mechanism and a green bond market in the Baltic Sea countries is analysed to determine national features and explore the possibility of translating the Baltic experience into practices usable in Russia. The research uses economic observations, economic description, structural and logical analysis, and systems analysis. Perhaps the most significant finding is the description of a methodological framework for sustainable development theory, as seen by major schools of economic thought. Studying the experience of the Baltic Sea countries in creating a new finance model of responsible investment helped detect national features and development priorities that can be used in Russia in devising the ideology, principles, and mechanism of green growth and sustainable growth financing.

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Depopulation of coastal rural Lithuania: do regional parks stabilise the situation?

Abstract

Regional parks in Lithuania preserve the most valuable physical and cultural components of the landscape, NATURA 2000 habitats, etc. Usually, they are located in natural or semi-natural landscapes of rural areas. These territories, however, have a higher depopulation rate than urbanised districts. Still, conservation priority areas were expected to attract young families as permanent residents and make their population more stable. This study aims to investigate changes in the rural population in three regional parks of the Klaipėda county to determine the number of abandoned villages (with 0 residents) and vanishing ones (with a population < 5), as compared to territories with no conservation regime. The article examines migration as one of the determinants of depopulation. Analysis of national and local statistics, institutional documents, and structured interviews revealed that the conservation regime applied in regional parks did not necessarily encourage local people to stay or newcomers to arrive. Proximity to the sea and towns with developed social infrastructure remains a priority when looking for a residence in the countryside.

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Developing geotourism with a focus on geoheritage in a transboundary region: the case of the Curonian Spit, a UNESCO site

Abstract

Recreation in protected areas (PAs) has received special attention amid international travel restrictions. The conflict between the conservation and economic use of these territories is increasing. This work aims to find ways to optimise and modernise environmental outreach and recreation in national parks as a type of PAs. Geotourism is viewed here as a sustainable form of tourism bridging the gap between conservation and recreation. Several objectives have been attained to fulfil this aim. The first one was the analysis of the best practices of geotourism development in Pas; the second one was measuring the resource potential for diversifying ecotourism events in PAs; the third objective was designing an algorithm for creating a geological heritage-focused eco-trail, an innovative recreation product aimed at environmental education and community outreach. The authors view the methodology for geo-tour design as an example of heritage preservation and propose a new tourist trail — the Geological and Geomorphological Chronicle of the Baltic Sea. This tour acquaints sightseers with the nature of the Curonian Spit National Park, a unique geological and geomorphological feature whose landscapes are a product of centuries-long human-nature interactions. Twenty years ago, in 2000, the conservation area was listed by UNESCO as a place of considerable natural significance. The field studies were carried out as part of the international project Ecotour4Natur: Ecotourism as a Tool for the Preservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage within the Lithuania-Russia Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2014—2020. The developed algorithm for eco-trail design may benefit other national parks as well.

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Migration studies

The Impact of COVID-19 on immigration: the transformation of Norwegian migration policy on asylum seekers

Abstract

Until just a year ago, hardly anyone believed that the increasingly unrestrained growth in mobility could be so abruptly interrupted by a radical immobilisation of large population groups. Neither mobility studies nor other research fields had foreseen this kind of scenario in their mobility and migration models. And why should have they? In the past decades, the belief in unconstrained mobility, as well as the practice of mobility and its scientific modelling, relied on the idea of unbounded growth at the sub-national, national and supra-national level. The article focuses on immigration to Norway, showing how institutional constraints were used to deal with the spread of COVID-19 and how they affected immigration to the country.

Due to complexity reasons, we focus exclusively on the situation of asylum seekers, giving additional attention to unaccompanied minors. These groups’ migration status is assumed to make them especially susceptible to the newly established immigration measures. Drawing upon a combined focus of data on migration regulations and asylum application statistics, we examine what impact mobility-related COVID-19 measures implemented in Norway since January 2020 had on asylum procedures, asylum mobility and asylum applications in Norway.

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Russophone immigration to Finland: new forms, trends, and consequences

Abstract

Until the 1960s, Finland was more often the country of origin than the country of destination. Once a depressed area, it soon turned into a welfare state, becoming with international migrants. Since Finland’s labour market and society are beset with demographic problems, the country gladly accepts labour migrants, particularly those from neighbouring states. Most EU immigrants coming to Finland are Estonians. Immigration from without the EU — from Russia and other former Soviet countries — has, however, an even greater potential. Non-EU immigration falls into several categories — from seasonal labour migration to the relocation of top specialists and entrepreneurs. Currently, family reunions, marriages, and student and labour migration account for most migration from Russia to Finland. This article attempts to study immigration to Finland from neighbouring countries, primarily from Russia. The result of the study is an analysis of principal channels of international migration to Finland. These are family reunion, student migration, top specialist relocation, and the expansion of Russian business. Finland is in dire need of healthcare specialists, researchers, business development and IT specialists, and other professionals. For example, Russia-bordering Finnish regions lack upper and middle-level healthcare specialists. The focus of the study is on the professional and socio-demographic structure of labour migration to Finland and the country’s migration policy on the adaptation and integration of Russian-speaking immigrants. The article gives a general picture of Finland’s migration policy on labour migration from Russia and other countries. In collecting and processing materials, data from official websites of Finland’s Migration Service and Employment Service, the database of Statistics Finland, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Finnish National Agency for Education were used.

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Media images of the Kaliningrad region in the structure of migration attitudes of millennials and the reform generation

Abstract

This article explores the role of a regional media image on migration attitudes. Attention is drawn to the Kaliningrad region, a Russian exclave whose population growth is solely due to migration. The study aims to determine how the media images of Kaliningrad affect the decision to move. The research draws on Radaev’s concept of generations. It uses 2014—2018 regional and national publications about the Kaliningrad region (N=1913) and semi-structured interviews with informants (N=44). The research methods are publication analysis and in-depth interviews processed using the Atals.ti software. The five images identified are a region of international cooperation, a military outpost, an economically attractive area, a territory of developing infrastructure, and a tourist destination. The most substantial intergenerational differences concern the media images of a military outpost and an economically attractive area. Members of the reform generation are more likely than millennials to see a military threat and consider the security aspect when moving. Millennials showed greater awareness of what constitutes the image of an economically attractive region. It is concluded that differences between millennials and the reform generation in evaluating the significance of the region’s media images depend crucially on the migration motives. For millennials, the priority is employment and career growth, whilst for the reform generation, it is finding a comfortable place to live in old age.

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