Slovakia

   

Environmental Policies

#29
Key Findings
With citizens showing growing sensitivity to environmental issues, Slovakia falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 29) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.2 points relative to its 2014 level.

The quality of environmental policy has slowly improved in recent years. The country relies heavily on nuclear power, with around 62% of the energy mix coming from this source, and more plants currently under construction. The renewables share has grown due to EU carbon-price increases.

A new environmental policy strategy sets measurable goals in areas such as waste management, air quality and habitat and species preservation. A new law prohibits logging in national parks and protected areas. Despite international recommendations, there has been very little progress in the areas of environmental taxes, waste management, wastewater and air quality.

The country supports the European Union’s 2030 climate and energy policy framework, and was the fourth country to ratify the Paris Agreement. However, it has not acted as an international agenda-setter for global environmental policy.

Environment

#32

How effectively does environmental policy in your country protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality?

10
 9

Environmental policy goals are ambitious and effectively implemented as well as monitored within and across most relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy goals are mainly ambitious and effectively implemented and are monitored within and across some of the relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy goals are neither particularly ambitious nor are they effectively implemented and coordinated across relevant policy sectors.
 2
 1

Environmental concerns have been largely abandoned.
Environmental Policy
5
In Slovakia, interest groups and policymakers have traditionally assigned priority to economic growth rather than the protection of the environment. As a result, the approach to environmental issues has tended to be patchy rather than holistic, and the implementation of environmental laws and regulations has been weak. However, citizen sensitivity for environmental and climate issues has gradually increased, and the quality of environmental policy has slowly improved.

The government took part in the 2018 voluntary national review of the United Nation’s High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and initiated a review of the country’s sustainable development strategy with a view to incorporating the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. In February 2019, the Slovak government approved a new strategy for environmental policy, Greener Slovakia. This document sets concrete and measurable goals which should be met by 2030. The document also identifies the biggest environmental challenges facing Slovakia and hence environmental policy areas that need to be prioritized, including waste management, air quality, and habitat and species conservation, especially in forest, meadow and wetland ecosystems. To meet these ambitious goals, the special Government Council for Agenda 2030 was established, which brings together key line ministers, as well as representatives of NGOs, academia, the private sector, and associations of cities and regions. More importantly, some of these ambitious goals have already been implemented. For example, in 2019, the government approved an environment protection law, which prohibits logging in national parks and protected areas. The recently elected Slovak president, Zuzana Čaputová, in her inaugural address, underlined her focus on environmental issues.

In Slovakia, the use of land, water, material and energy resources is very mixed.
Regarding land, the condition of almost 99% of agricultural land fund is hygienically satisfactory. Recently, the physical properties of soil has noticeably deteriorated. Contaminated soil occurs predominantly in areas of industrial activity, while the proportion of contaminated soil in mountain and foothill regions has remained stable. Compared to other EU member states, soil in Slovakia contains relatively small amounts of nutrients, which leads to higher consumption of industrial fertilizers. The average consumption of industrial fertilizers is higher than in most EU member states and reached about 40% of consumption in 1990. Organic farming accounts for approximately 9.5% of all agricultural land.

Regarding water, Slovakia has one of the largest reserves of quality drinking water in the Visegrád group of countries. At the same time, Slovakia uses only a fraction of its reserves each year. Water consumption decreases annually and is one of the lowest in the European Union. Due to the uneven distribution of groundwater resources, there are also areas with insufficient groundwater reserves (e.g., Krupina and Košice). Total water consumption has slightly declined over the long run, which may have a positive environmental impact. Public water supply networks comply with the hygienic limits and supply 88% of the population. However, less than two-thirds of the population are connected to public sewers, and the improvement in this area lags behind the development of public water supply networks.

Regarding energy, Slovakia relies heavily on nuclear power (roughly 62% of energy consumed is produced by nuclear power plants), which means low greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the lack of additional policies supporting the production of renewable energy, the share of renewable energy has increased due to increases in EU Energy Trading System (ETS) carbon prices. The country’s dependence on nuclear energy has made the planned construction of a third and fourth nuclear power plant in Mochovce a major issue, the former is planned to open in February 2020 and the latter in 2021. The newly-adopted EU 2030 targets of 32% for renewables and 32.5% for energy efficiency are higher than assumed, and imply that Slovakia will need to adopt ambitious targets for both renewable energy sources (RES) and energy efficiency (EE). A recent study done by the World Bank and the Slovak Ministry of the Environment estimates that Slovakia will need to achieve 22% for RES and 30% for EE. This means that both biomass and variable renewables will have to be developed, accompanied by the strongest possible building renovation policy.

Regarding air, air pollution in Slovakia’s urban centers is mostly caused by industry, transport and the small-scale burning of wood. PM2.5 is monitored in OECD countries. In Slovakia, PM2.5 levels are 20.6 micrograms per cubic meter, much higher than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter and higher than the annual guideline limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter set by the WHO.

Regarding biodiversity, Slovakia aims to prevent the deterioration of protected species and habitats. The country’s new strategy aims to restore at least 15% of degraded ecosystems by 2030. The country urgently needs to simplify the current system of protected areas and degrees of protection, as the system does not enable a stricter protection and targeted care in accordance with international standards. After the planned 2024 assessment, the core zone of territories without human intervention will comprise 50% of the total area of each national park management category II of protected areas under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) by 2025 and 75% by 2030. A valuation and payments for ecosystem services will be improved and an integrated concept of landscape protection will be implemented by 2030. This task is complicated by the lack of comprehensive datasets on biodiversity, while the map of ecosystems in Slovakia was only recently elaborated.

Regarding the climate, in Slovakia, climate change-related policies focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting and revitalizing ecosystems, and reducing and mitigating the risk of floods and soil erosion. The current challenge is to prevent and reduce the consequences of drought and other unwanted impacts of climate change. Despite the recommendations of international organizations (e.g., the European Commission and OECD), there has been very little progress in the areas of environmental taxes, waste management, waste water and air quality. More significant progress in climate policy was achieved in international cooperation on climate change and energy.

Citations:
Černecký, J. et al. (2020): Ecosystems in Slovakia, in: Journal of Maps 16(2): 28-35.

Ministry of Environment (2019): Strategy of the Environmental Policy of the Slovak Republic until 2030 – Greener Slovakia. Bratislava (https://www.minzp.sk/files/iep/greener_slovakia-strategy_of_the_environmental_policy_of_the_slovak_republic_until_2030.pdf).

World Bank (2019): A Low-Carbon Growth Study for Slovakia: Implementing the EU 2030 climate and energy policy framework. Washington, D.C. (https://www.minzp.sk/files/iep/2019_01_low-carbon-study.pdf).

Global Environmental Protection

#18

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
5
As part of the European Union, Slovakia supports the European Union’s 2030 climate and energy policy framework, and its contribution to the global Paris Agreement. Slovakia was the fourth country to ratify the Paris Agreement, and the ratification of the agreement by all key states featured prominently among Slovakia’s priorities during its EU presidency in the second half of 2016. However, Slovakia has not acted as an international agenda-setter for global environmental policy. It signed a contribution agreement with the Green Climate Fund as recently as September 2019.
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