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July/August 2019

Challenges for the Slovak environment
Uncut Diamond
An Old Mill on the river Buna in Blagaj
“Open Kitchen"
Gourmet destinations on Krk
And the Story of Abdera continues
"Lex Disciplinary Board on Harabin"
Liberal threats to the constitution
A Territory of Dialogue or Conflict?
The Promoter of God's Nature


Challenges for the Slovak environment

Over the next 11 years, Slovakia is to be gradually transformed into a country in which regions and communities will develop successfully, into a state that provides a quality and safe environment for the healthy and full life of all citizens. This is one of the basic objectives of the proposed vision and strategy of Slovakia's development until 2030 by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Investments and Information Technology, which is not discussed in more extensive professional, public or political discussions. Climate-neutral use of natural resources should be a key change in favour of achieving this and respecting the capacity of ecosystem restoration. But how does Slovakia want to achieve this, what tools and legislative measures do they have? And who will be responsible for this goal? We still do not know the answers to these questions.  

According to the indicator of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) in 2017, Slovakia was one of the 30 countries with the highest quality of the environment. In the case of Slovakia, this index is at the level of 71%, ranking the country at the 28th place in the world. Compared to 2007, however, the value of this indicator fell by 15% (from 86%) and Slovakia fell by 11 places from the original 17th place. Based on the contents of the index it is obvious that Slovakia holds a high value index continuing vitality of ecosystems and solid system of environmental protection. The worst are air quality (mainly pollution by particulate matter- microscopic solid particles), forest conditions and habitat quality.  

Almost a third of the total population of Slovakia still lives in the most polluted areas and according to statistics air pollution causes up to 5 000 deaths each year. If the situation did not change, it would mean the loss of 60,000 lives until 2030. Slovakia does not reach the required level of reduction of pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2? Particulate matter (PM10), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone, and carcinogenic benzo (a) pyrene. Tools, which are currently used for emission reduction are not enough in order to achieve the desired reduction in emissions by 2030. Slovakia is also experiencing an increase in the negative manifestations of climate change. 

According to estimates, climate-related extreme losses from climate extremes amounted to more than € 1.2 billion in 2013. Without an effective policy of adapting the economy and society to these changes, they cannot be expected to decline. On the other hand, further growth and a total value of over 14.4 billion EUR by 2030 if Slovakia takes at least any such effective measures to mitigate the pace of climate change. The Slovak economy consumes more natural resources per capita than their capacity to create these resources. The ecological footprint of the Slovak economy is negative, with a deficit of 1.3 global hectares. Slovakia is also lagging most EU countries in eco-innovations.

In the year 2017, these innovations reached only 74% of the EU average.Neither sustainable is the current cover of the energy consumption of Slovakia, as its economy is among the energetically most demanding economies in the European Union. Unfortunately, most of the energy sources used are non-renewable. The share of renewable energy sources in gross final energy consumption is only 12%, while in 2016 it was 17 % across the EU (excluding Slovakia). The critical situation is in the transport sector, where the largest share of fuel consumption is the final consumption of liquid fuels (97%), while the share of final electricity consumption is very low. The problem of energy consumption and especially of renewable energy sources is closely related to energy poverty, which has become an important factor not only in the quality of life but also in the quality of the environment in Slovakia. Green procurement accounts for only a small share of the total volume of goods and services procured.     

The quality of surface and underground water is also decreasing. The population connected to the sewerage system represents only 65.2% of the total population of the Slovak Republic. In agglomerations of over 2,000 inhabitants, only 58 percent. The capacity of water reservoirs to hold the water runoff from the ground is at the level of one third of the annual needs of Slovakia.Up to 51% of the total waste ends up in landfills, with municipal waste even 66 percent. The recycling rate of municipal waste is 23%, one of the lowest in Europe. Of the 1,963 registered environmental burden in Slovakia in 2016, we managed to conduct a survey of only the 141 locations and perform remediation of 19 sites. Of the total area of ​​Slovakia, more than 37% of the areas are defined as protected areas. But paradoxically, only a small part of them (1.75%) leaves nature untouched. The management of protected parks and protected landscape areas is no different from the use of other areas.  
Since 2000 Slovakia has been losing its forests. Soil quality deteriorates and erosion increases. From a hygiene point of view, 99% of the agricultural funds are satisfactory, however, a third of the fund is endangered by nitrates. Almost 60% of agricultural soil shows weakly acidic or acidic soil reaction. Water erosion endangers 38.6% od soil and 6.7% is endangered by wind erosion. Ecological agriculture covers only 9.5% of the area. 

In the program declaration of the Slovak government for the years 2016 - 2020, the government committed itself to several activities. For example, it will conduct a dialogue within so- called “green tripartite” with the local self- governments, business and NGOs. Or to elaborate a new environmental strategy in the field of implementation of environmental policy based on the principles of sustainable development. Or that it will create the preconditions for the transition to a competitive circular economy by supporting the implementation of existing and innovative economic instruments. Or creating conditions for creating "green" jobs and investments, eco-innovations and applications of green public procurement. The government also promised citizens to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 20% by 2020 compared to 2005 and to prepare a "low-carbon strategy by 2050” which will support long-term investments in low-carbon and clean technologies friendly to the environment. Unfortunately, we can state that both the government and the Ministry of the Environment (Most-Híd) are scarcely fulfilling these promises and will not be able to meet them even by the end of their electoral term, or in the parliamentary elections in February 2020.          

Fortunately, for the government coalition, these topics somehow "avoid" the Slovak "old and new opposition". The outgoing Juncker Commission in Brussels does not comment on them either. At the beginning of 2019, it noticed only "inadequate nature conservation" in Slovakia, which causes a significant decrease in the number of birds and disregard of EU habitats and birds’ directives. According to Brussels Slovak party fails in the field of legislation for approving forest management plans and for logging in protected areas belonging to the Natura 2000. “Slovak forest management plans and amendments thereto, as well as remediation of cutting, to prevent pest infestation, by were to be assessed in terms of their effects, but such provisions are lacking in Slovak legislation,” the European Commission stated in its reasoned opinion sent to Slovakia.  The Commission noted that one of the adverse consequences is, for example, a decline in the stock of the black grouse, which is the largest pheasant in the world. The European Commission criticizes Slovakia that it had not taken sufficient special conservation measures for capercaillie, as required under the Birds Directive or management plans for the corresponding specially protected territory.       
Robert Matejović, editor in chief

Young Personality
Uncut Diamond

"It is time for lawmakers in Slovakia to go into the field and find out what impacts their "laws in practice,” says Karina Holešová, a Mayor of Hlboké nad Váhom. 

An Old Mill on the river Buna in Blagaj

“Open Kitchen"

It is a new and popular gastronomic hit of Ljubljana that offers world-class culinary experiences. 

Gourmet destinations on Krk
The traditional Krk Food Fest motivates more and more restaurants on the island to present and offer guests their spring and autumn specialties.

And the Story of Abdera continues

The Chairman of the Constitutional Court avoids answering questions. Citizens of the Slovak Republic still do not know whether Zuzana Caputova is a legitimate president of the state.

"Lex Disciplinary Board on Harabin"

Zuzana Čaputova is concerned that Judge Stefan Harabin wins 14: 0 in disciplinary proceedings. He, therefore, proposes an institutional change so that the judges were appointed by the judges already chosen by her are to decide on the judges.

Liberal threats to the constitution
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