Latvia boasts almost a 500 km long coastline that hosts many valuable and unique habitats and species, and simultaneously serves as a hub for economic activities and development, as well home to coastal communities that make up a significant part of the Latvian population. Clearly, the multifaced role of the coast makes the task of managing the diverse and complex areas challenging.

Coastal management involves a multitude of stakeholders from various institutions and levels, resulting in a complex and time-consuming planning process. Achieving a harmonious balance between land and sea further complicates the task. Meeting the objectives calls for a planning approach that considers the interests of all groups involved, utilizing both human and natural resources in a sustainable and balanced manner.

Within the Baltic Sea2Land project, Latvian pilot cases—both at the national and regional levels—focus on the planning and management of the coast. The primary goal of these pilots is to enhance the current methods of Latvian coastal spatial planning and governance. This involves promoting integrated planning for coastal territories, facilitating local economic development, supporting diverse businesses, and establishing a service infrastructure network that aligns with the preservation of the fragile coastal ecosystem. Baltic Environmental Forum – Latvia is involved in both project’s pilot cases, providing support to content tasks with our expertise in ecosystem services, landscape assessment, maritime spatial planning and other related topics.

In this article, you will learn more about the Baltic Sea2Land pilot cases we are currently working on together with our project colleagues from Kurzeme Planning region, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia and VASAB.

National pilot case – updating the National Coastal plan

Led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia, the national pilot project is centered around the National Coastal Plan. Similar to the other pilots within the project, Latvia’s national pilot aims to test the Sea2Land Navigator tool that is being developed by the project. This tool is designed to assist planners and decision-makers in fostering a sustainable blue economy in the Baltic Sea Region by facilitating viable coastal development and the sustainable utilization of natural and human capital.

In this specific case, the tool will be employed to support the preparation of an interim assessment report of the Latvian National long-term thematic plan for public infrastructure development in coastal area. The report is made to identify if and what aspects of the plan should be changed, enriched, or updated. Through realising such an assessment as project piloting activity of national significance, the process is expected to become more integrated.

Additionally, it is important to highlight that the Latvian national pilot case evaluates how the Sea2Land Navigator can guide existing planning documents throughout the process, not solely when establishing a new framework for a developing document.

While the piloting phase is just commencing, the Latvian team has already undertaken substantial preparatory work. This includes reviewing existing and historical documents, as well as engaging in numerous stakeholder activities to initiate the problem-scoping process.

Regional pilot case – developing the Coastal Thematic Plan of Kurzeme region

Led by the Kurzeme Planning Region, the regional pilot case focuses on the development of a Coastal Thematic Plan for the Kurzeme region. Recognized as a valuable and resource-rich area, the coastal region plays a vital role in fostering diverse and integrated development within the region. However, it is also becoming a space where conflicts emerge due to the diverse and sometimes conflicting interests of stakeholders. Many of these issues extend beyond the scope of individual municipalities and industries, therefore complex and comprehensive solutions are needed.

Within the framework of developing the Kurzeme Region Coastal Thematic Plan, an extensive study of the area will be conducted. The main aim of the study is to obtain essential information that is needed in order to sustainably manage and develop the Kurzeme coast and to ensure integrated multi-level coastal planning on a regional level.

With the help of data and information provided by the Sea2Land Navigator tool, the regional pilot will delve into various issues such as resource availability, potential, and capacity. It will also analyse current development processes and other key aspects vital for ensuring a sustainable future for the Kurzeme coast.

To engage stakeholders and gather valuable insights, the Kurzeme Planning Region has already conducted several stakeholder meetings. These sessions served to inform participants about the Coastal Thematic Plan and provided a platform for discussing issues relevant to them. These discussions will contribute to shaping the focus of the document, ensuring that it addresses the concerns and priorities of the various stakeholders involved.

Learn more about the Baltic Sea2Land project: