6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where we are?

picture by Emanuel Begic: Acid rains (from the 2004 children's competition on MDGs in Croatia)

Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Republic of Croatia identifies eight key challenges on which action is needed to transform and direct the Republic of Croatia towards the sustainable development: 1. encouraging population growth in the Republic of Croatia; 2. environment and natural resources; 3. promoting sustainable production and consumption; 4. ensuring social and territorial cohesion and justice; 5. ensuring energy independence and increasing the efficiency of energy use; 6. strengthening public health; 7. interconnectedness of the Republic of Croatia; 8. protection of the Adriatic Sea, coastal area and islands.

Due to its specific geographical position on the dividing line between several biogeographic regions and due to its characteristic ecological, climate and geomorphological conditions, Croatia is one of the richest European countries in terms of biodiversity. The great diversity of land, marine and underground habitats has resulted in a wealth of species and subspecies, including a significant number of endemics. The number of known species in Croatia is around 38,000, though the estimated number is far higher (50,000 to over 100,000).

State Institute for Nature Protection (SINP), as expert institution for nature conservation in Croatia, is working on establishment and implementation of inventarisation of all components of biological diversity, which has resulted in publication of IUCN Red Lists of fungi, animal and plants species and IUCN Red Books for some taxonomy groups of flora and fauna.

In 2007, Regulation on Proclamation of the Ecological Network was adopted. Ecological Network is defined as a system of interconnected or spatially close ecologically important areas having a balanced biogeographical spread, thus significantly contributing to the preservation of the natural balance and biodiversity. Ecological Network reflects the richness of Croatian biodiversity and as such, it encompasses 47% of land and 39% of marine territory of the Republic of Croatia, including two corridors: the corridor for sea turtles and the corridor Palagruža-Lastovo-Pelješac (important bird migration area).

In regards to the number of population without adequate water supply and drainage, in comparison to 2005, there has been an increase in the proportion of the population connected to the public drainage system (2005 - 76%; 2008 - 80%), as well as an increase in the proportion of population connected to the public drainage system with adequate purification of waste waters (2005 - 15%; 2008 - 27%).

Goals of the Water Management Strategy are systemised according to the basic water-management activities of public interest: protection from floods and other adverse effects of water, public water supply and protection of water.

Coastal water quality data has been monitored over many years on river estuaries, on public drainage systems and industrial drainages. The goal of testing is monitoring of the impact of pollution from the land, detecting the possible changes caused by natural processes of anthropogenic impacts, and providing a base for planning and taking measures to reduce pollution. Furthermore, systematic monitoring of coastal waters in the area of middle and southern Adriatic, in relation to ecological and chemical criteria, is being carried on. In the 2004 – 2008 period, the ecological status of the largest part of the aquatorium of the Republic of Croatia can be appraised with the highest rating, i.e. very good.

Forests and other wooded land encompass almost half of the land territory, 2 688 687 ha or 47,5% (Forest Management Plan of the Republic of Croatia, 2006 - 2015). State forests are managed by in a "close to nature" practice with a goal of natural regeneration and in accordance with the sustainable management principles. Thanks to these practices, public enterprise "Hrvatske šume" renewed in 2007 a group FSC certificate, for a period of 5 years, which assures that forest management, under their authority, is maintained by imperative ecological, social and economic standards.

Goals of sustainable forest management, through prism of economic policy, are represented by forest functions of general benefit such as - protection of soil from water and wind erosion, purification of water through percolation through forest soil and the supply of underground streams and water sources with drinking water, creation of favourable influence on the climate and agricultural activities, purification of polluted air, preservation of biological diversity of the genofond, species, ecosystems and landscapes, mitigation of the atmospheric «greenhouse effect» by carbon sequestration and oxygen enrichment of the environment, etc.

Sustainable forest management of wood and non-wood products allows an economic development in activities primarily reliant on forestry (wood industry, tourism, hunting, etc.) and encouraging development in the other activities, notably in rural regions in the Republic of Croatia (energetic, transport, pharmacy, etc.).

It should also be pointed out that during the last 5 years, the Republic of Croatia has been investing extra funds for the prevention and forest fire-fighting (Croatia has enhanced air fire-fighting fleet, vehicles and engineering).

In the period between 2006 and 2009 regulations governing the management of special categories of waste have entered into force. On the basis of the adopted regulations the systems for management of special waste categories were established in line with the „polluter pays" principle. Furthermore, in order to inform the public and raise awareness of the necessity for the separate waste collection, public campaigns are being carried out through media outlets.

UNDP's work in Croatia

Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums