HELCOM BONUS stakeholder 2013
Panel discussion at the BONUS-HELCOM stakeholder conference 4 March 2013. From l. to r. Arnoldas Milukas, Fredrik Wulff, Jesper Andersen, Raine Hermans, Anna-Stiina Heiskanen, Andrzej Cieslak, Boris Chubarenko. Photo: BONUS
BONUS Forum events, organised annually or biennially, form key stakeholder platform for BONUS to carry out consultations and share results of the BONUS funded projects with policymakers. Given that stakeholder involvement is one of the key priorities of the BONUS programme, the Forums' aim to bring together representatives of ministries across all relevant sectoral borders of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries – environment, transport, agriculture, forestry and science – who deal with matters related to Baltic Sea system research and governance.

A key use of this platform is to consult about the development and updates of the policy-driven strategic research agenda while it also forms the most important end-user group of the bespoke knowledge generated within the BONUS projects.

The BONUS Forum also facilitates and advances the pan-Baltic integration of research, including the joint use and planning of infrastructure capacities, not only by assisting in highlighting research needs, but also by facilitating of the integration of research funding.

Over time, the BONUS Forums have evolved from 'stand-alone' events to jointly organised gatherings of strategically important partners and end-user groups, sharing mutual stakeholder platforms and adding this way value to building long-term and region-wide Baltic Sea research and innovation network while avoiding overlapping efforts:

  • Fifth Forum (BONUS Forum 2015) was delivered in conjunction with a joint policy day and held as an Latvian EU presidency event during the tenth Baltic Sea Science Congress in June 2015 in Riga. Policy representatives were invited to join the discussions of the scientific community under the theme 'Viable ecosystem for a sustainable society' and strengthen the science-policy interface further with the event securing over 150 participants attendance.
  • Fourth Forum ('BONUS Forum 2014') was delivered as a joint session at the fifth Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) in Turku in early June 2014. Acting as an equivalent to year's 2014 BONUS Forum, this joint  parallel work stream session titled Successful cooperation: research, development and innovation was organised by BONUS and the EUSBSR Horizontal action leads for Sustainable Development from the CBSS Baltic-21. It demonstrated in an interactive way successful cooperation and used as a case of the undercurrent and necessity of sustainable development.
  • Third Forum (BONUS Forum 2012/13) was organised as a part of a joint BONUS-HELCOM stakeholder conference identifying future research needs of the Baltic Sea region in early March 2013 in Helsinki and this feeding into the update of the BONUS strategic research agenda published in January 2014.
  • Second Forum (BONUS Forum 2011) convened back-to back with the Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) in Gdansk Poland a year later and shared with stakeholders first results of the BONUS+ projects that were implemented 2009-2011.
  • First BONUS Forum (BONUS Forum 2010) was independently organised when held in Tallinn, Estonia in 2010 to define research needs from different sectors’ perspectives for the first time in the process of developing the BONUS strategic research agenda 2011-2017 and marking in many cases the first time when professionals working with Baltic Sea issues under different ministries were sitting together and discussing research needs from their policy perspective.