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Energy and climate change

 
Climate change effects due to an increase in greenhouse gases e.g., carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere has become a global concern. Burning of fossil fuels for energy production is one of the main causes of greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of the total energy consumption and 36% of the carbon dioxide emissions within the EU. Therefore increasing the energy efficiency, promoting sustainable construction and use of renewable energy sources are important actions to decrease the energy demand of the building sector.

BEF activities in the area of climate change and energy are mainly focusing on implementation of EU and national legislation at national and local level covering energy performance of buildings, use of renewable energy sources and adaptation concepts for climate change. Within the frame of projects, our experts work on
• holistic approach to implement energy saving measures at municipal buildings;
fostering application of ecologically sound construction, insulation and finishing materials;
efficient utilization of renewable energy sources (e.g., biomass, solar) in public and private sector;
climate change adaptation strategies;
• experience exchange and promotion of best practice examples in energy production and construction sector;
networking of stakeholders at national authorities, municipalities, training institutions, NGOs in the Central and Eastern Europe in the EU, Germany, as well as in Russia and Belarus;
awareness raising of general public on energy saving possibilities that can be applied at households.
 
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Contact person:
 
Daina Indriksone
Environmental expert &
project manager

Tel: + 371 6735 7550
Daina.Indriksone@bef.lv

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Hazardous substances and chemicals management

 
Chemicals are all around us, from natural chemicals in food to industrially produced ones, distributed by trade and by long-range transport of pollutants, found in working surrounding, environment and consumers’ products.

To date, the pollution of the environment by certain hazardous substances is still a problem for the Baltic States and Russia. This mostly originates because substances are used and consumed without knowledge and awareness of their impacts on the environment and human health. Additionally, this leads to a lack of demand for enforcement of EU chemicals risk management policy.

Thus, further pollutions by and misuse of hazardous substances can only be avoided by stimulating the awareness, closing knowledge gaps and strictly enforcing EU chemicals risk management. Therefore strengthening of dialogue and cooperation among state authorities, industry, trade, NGOs and consumers as well as continuous awareness and knowledge raising, know-how exchange and capacity building within the field of chemicals risk management are priority issues for the Baltic Environmental Forum Group.
Within past and on-going projects we aimed to
identify the occurrence of the substances,
track back hazardous substances to the sources of origin at point sources and wastewater treatment plants,
propose substitution or ceasing measures,
improve permitting quality with regard to concrete actions regarding the chemical substances,
propose hazardous substance monitoring activities for environmental monitoring programmes,
train competent authorities and industrial enterprises on proper chemicals management,
raise awareness of NGOs on chemicals hazards for the environment and health and for possible reduction measures
through specific researches, workshops, specific meetings, trainings and materials (brochures, handbooks).
 
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Contact person:
 
Heidrun Fammler
Environmental expert
 
Tel: +372 6 597 028

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Nature conservation and biodiversity

 
Nature and its biodiversity not only keeps our planet in balance by providing climate regulation, nutrient recycling and flood prevention, but also ensures the well-being of people through direct economic benefits from natural resources and food supplies. In spite of this intrinsic value within the EU only 17% of species and habitats and 11% of protected ecosystems are in good condition, while the rest are experiencing decline or being under pressure mainly from human activities. Therefore nature conservation and biodiversity maintenance is still among the main priorities of the EU environmental policy. An essential tool of this policy is the NATURA2000 network, which encompasses the main nature assets of EU covering ca. 18% of its territory.

Baltic Environmental Forum has been contributing to implementation of EU nature conservation policy since the very first years of the organisation and it has had significant role in this process within the Baltic States. At the seminars organised by the BEF the Baltic authorities, stakeholders and NGOs have learned more about EU legislation for protection of biodiversity and discussed the ways forward establishment of the Natura 2000 network in the Baltic States. Furthermore BEF has implemented practical projects on Natura 2000 site designation and management planning. Among the main outputs can be listed establishment of marine protected areas, a number of approved management plans, various information materials and publications.
The actual issues of the BEF nature programme include:
Promoting of environmental friendly farming for maintenance of biodiversity
• Ensuring sustainable use of marine ecosystem by introducing maritime spatial planning
• Assessment of status of marine biodiversity by developing new indicators and innovative monitoring methods
 
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Contact person:
 
Anda Ruskule
Environmental expert &
project manager
 
Tel: +372 6 597 028

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Waste management

 
Large quantities of waste are generated each year within the EU that cause pollution to the environment. Increasing stream of waste from hi-tech products results in significant losses of materials, as plastics and precious metals, as well as in release of hazardous materials. EU waste policy relies on hierarchy of waste management and identifies waste prevention as a top priority in the field.

BEF activities are stretched in two directions – a life cycle concept in waste prevention, and best implementation of EU waste legislation on national, regional and local levels. Our experts work on
• cverview on EU waste legislation for management of municipal waste, building up of separate waste collection and management systems and ensuring safe final disposal of waste in the Baltic States,
analysis of the background conditions for stakeholder engagement, awareness raising and promotion of public participation,
• concept of waste prevention by addressing the consumer behaviour in the product use and disposal phase,
knowledge and experience transfer from the Baltic States at capacity building events for municipalities in countries on a way for developing of their waste management system, e.g. Balkan region,
fostering the cooperation between stakeholders, as state authorities, non-governmental organizations and municipalities for potential improvements in waste management.
 
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Contact person:
 
Ingrida Bremere
Environmental expert &
project manager
 
Tel: + 371 6735 7561

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Water management

 
Since the adoption of the Water Framework Directive (2000), a policy to prevent or reduce further pollution and improve the status of water bodies, the Baltic Environmental Forum has become active player to promote the principles and objectives of the water policy as well as encourage the implementation of the defined tasks. Our aim is to increase environmental awareness about the importance of the water resources. The BEF has focused its activities on capacity building and involvement of stakeholders in different steps of the implementation of the water policy.
The special attention is on the transboundary pollution and needs of the joint measures to reduce pollution. Therefore the cooperation between Latvia and Lithuania, Russia, Estonia, as well as between Lithuania and Belarus and other combinations is supported. Initially, the BEF was performing a role of facilitator in signing the cooperation agreement on designation of the transboundary river basin districts between Estonia and Latvia; Latvia and Lithuania. The signing of the agreements have launched also more active information exchange and expert cooperation around 2003-2005.

Furthermore, the BEF team
• recently was involved in large scale research projects, where needs for policy measures have been assessed to improve the situation in the Baltic region.
• has elaborated a number of informative materials and guidebooks
• as moderators and experts have been and will perform trainings, workshops, educational events for municipalities, NGOs, school children, farmers, etc. at local, national or transboundary level.
The topics ranged from basic principles and approaches of the river basin management planning up to specific debates on typology, classification, and standards of waste water treatment between experts.
Now the BEF is developing the portal www.balticrivers.eu to present the key information in user friendly way.
 
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Contact person:
 
Kristina Veidemane
Environmental expert &
project manager
 
Tel: +371 6735 7551

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Capacity development

 
We are convinced at the BEF Group that competency in implementation of EU and national environmental policy in Central and Eastern Europe must grow among all involved stakeholders – in public administration as well as industry, research, environmental & other NGOs and the civil society in general - and the level of enforcement must be strengthened. Therefore, a lot of our work is dedicated to the development of capacities of different stakeholders and on a variety of environmental themes – we provide training courses, develop handbooks or guidance materials and facilitate experience exchange in workshops and conferences.

We find communication and cooperation among stakeholders and beyond the own sector very important and try to initiate and moderate the dialogue between various stakeholder groups to encourage better solution finding for environmental problems. Therefore, we also like to work in cross-sectoral projects addressing more than a “classical environmental topic” (like the conservation of a certain species or the renovation of a single building), but we favor projects dealing with a holistic eco-system approach, with integrated maritime planning, energy optimized urban planning or sustainable mobility.

The BEF Group also wants to contribute to strengthening the voice of environmental organizations in Central and Eastern Europe and facilitates the communication of their positions and ideas to the public and international fora. BEF emphasizes the need to bridge between Western and Eastern EU and helps bringing the Eastern perspective to the “old” EU member states and the EU level besides traditional vice-versa communication direction.

Furthermore: modern management and financial administration are still weak in Central and Eastern Europe, which reflects in the low absorption rates of EU funds. With our project work, often in the role of project developers or the project management unit we want to contribute to strengthening management capacities and financial administration skills of different stakeholders in Central and Eastern Europe, thus helping them to act as competent partners in European projects.
 
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Contact person:

Heidrun Fammler
Environmental expert &
project manager
 
Tel: +371 6735 7552