13 December 2023

Wellbeing and inclusion

Written by Elena Kolosova

Interreg transnational cooperation has brought together people and institutions across borders to work on shared societal risks and unexpected crises. By investing in health and social care and by empowering vulnerable groups, we have increased solidarity and reduced disparities. We take a look back at 25 years of Interreg Baltic Sea Region cooperation for wellbeing and inclusion.

Joining forces for the wellbeing of residents

Interreg projects have been instrumental in promoting the well-being of residents and social inclusion in the Baltic Sea region.

Teresa Marcinów, the Monitoring Committee member from Poland, Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy

“Interreg Baltic Sea Region has proven that it is better to join with partners to work on topics, such as climate, environment, transport, societal issues, and also some unexpected crises like pandemics. It is reasonable to seek solutions as a group because the expertise and tools available on a local, regional or national level are not always sufficient. It is worth investing time, effort and money in cooperation in the Baltic Sea area to bring people and institutions together. We’ve managed to encourage people to cooperate and open their minds.”

Shaping public health

In the mid-2000s, projects focused on shaping sustainable public health planning, with the support of the World Health Organisation. Project partners got enormous support from over 33000 respondents to a more bottom-up approach in public health policies emphasising participation, communication, and commitment.

Becoming more inclusive

Between 2009 and 2014, projects helped older professionals remain active in their jobs and became tutors to younger workers and start-ups.  Further, they supported women in seeking employment and leadership roles, promoting gender equality in the workplace.

Max Hogeforster, the Hanse Parliament, Germany

“I would like to mention the project Quick IGA, which stands for Innovative SMEs by Gender and Age. In this project, we established guidelines on how to increase the share of female entrepreneurship. Although the project ended in 2014, it is still very relevant today.”

Advancing social agenda

From 2016 to 2021, projects continued to advance the social agenda in the region by empowering vulnerable groups, such as elderly people, migrants, and single parents, to be active, engage in community actions, and even start their own businesses. The projects also provided access to new digital mobility solutions for elderly and young people in villages, offering transport-on-demand and rural car sharing. Projects took an innovative approach to developing new tools. Public health authorities and SMEs designed eHealth apps together with children and young people, to improve health behaviour and physical activity among adolescents. SMEs and universities collaborated to design smart furniture for elderly to enhance their life quality and independence in their home environment. Over 100 seniors and their caregivers tested these new solutions in real-home environments.

Teresa Marcinów, the Monitoring Committee member from Poland:

“Even though some regions are separated by many kilometres, they share certain challenges related to, for instance, new demographic phenomena and the necessary economic changes related to them. For example, the BaltSe@nioR project brought furniture producers, academia and senior citizens together to create better conditions for the ageing groups of society. In a similar context, we also have projects working in the health sector. The Programme helps understand that it is very important to prepare solutions in close cooperation with their potential users.”


This year, our Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme is celebrating its 25th anniversary. For more examples of #MadeWithIBSR project results and testimonials of great people who have helped shape the regions with us,  visit our birthday celebrations page!

Want to know more about the projects that have been facilitating wellbeing and inclusion? Flip through the project examples below:

Arts on Prescription

Arts on Prescription in the Baltic Sea Region
The project Arts on Prescription helps public authorities, cultural and health institutions engage people with mental health challenges in social and non-therapy art activities to improve their mental wellbeing.
Read more about the project


The Baltic Sea Initiative for the Development of Business Activity of Refugee Women
In the project BSI_4Women, public authorities and business support organisations help women refugees from Ukraine and beyond start their own businesses and become active community members.
Read more about the project


Empowering NGOs & public institutions in helping children overcome migration traumas using creativity and favors of nature
In the project KidsLikeUs, educators, public authorities and NGOs explore how contact with nature and appeal to all senses can improve mental well-being of children with traumatic experiences.
Read more about the project


Maximised Mobility and Accessibility of Services in Regions Affected by Demographic Change
The Interreg project MAMBA introduced innovative mobility solutions making public transport, welfare services and goods delivery more convenient and accessible in rural areas across the Baltic Sea region.
Read more about the project


Supporting the Smart Specialization Approach in the Silver Economy to Increase Regional Innovation Capacity and Sustainable Growth
OSIRIS helped to accelerate the development and market uptake of innovative products and services for the elder people.
Read more about the project


Baltic Cities tackle lifestyle related diseases – The development of an innovative model for prevention interventions targeting public health authorities in the Baltic Sea Region
The Interreg project BaltCityPrevention helped public health authorities in the cities around the Baltic Sea to better promote healthy lifestyle, introduce eHealth technologies and strengthen cooperation between public health authorities and business.
Read more about the project


RESPONSE - Demand-Responsive Transport to ensure accessibility, availability and reliability of rural public transport
RESPONSE helped public transport authorities to develop demand-responsive transport solutions for rural areas.
Read more about the project

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