Country profile - Drivers and impacts (Latvia)
Environment policy considerations increasingly spill over into transport, energy, agricultural, cohesion, industrial and research and development policies. Issues of sustainable development underpin decisions on the use of Structural Funds. Latvia as an EU Member State is required to spend these community funds to address, among others, the challenges of biodiversity and nature protection, renewable energy, waste and water management, clean transport and climate change.
The existing environmental situation indicates several tendencies which, in future, may endanger the quality of the environment:
- the pressures on biodiversity continue to be urban sprawl, infrastructure development, acidification, eutrophication, desertification, overexploitation, and the intensification of agriculture and land abandonment. Climate change also increases the threat to biodiversity,
- insufficient public awareness about environmental issues, unsustainable consumption patterns and how public activities impact environment,
- eutrophication of inland and coastal waters caused by urban wastewater, agricultural activities and pollution from sea transport,
- insufficient financing and investment in the environment sector, especially in wastewater treatment and drinking water quality improvement, remediation of polluted sites,
- erosion of the sea coastline and riversides,
- the amount of recycled waste is still insufficient,
- difficulties in finding the compromise between nature values and economic interests,
- the use of environmentally friendly technologies is low; improvements in energy efficiency are needed.
There is still a need for stronger recognition of the fact that socioeconomic and environmental objectives are not in conflict with each other, but that rather the achievement of environmental objectives is an absolute precondition if the socioeconomic goals are to be met in the long term.
The recent economic crisis has sent shock waves around the globe, reaching all parts of the economic system. The crisis is a crucial opportunity to ’green‘ our economy and lay the foundations for low-carbon and resource-efficient growth. As the downturn influences our policies, a stronger environment policy can help spark economic recovery.