SINGLE COUNTRY PROFILE
Tuesday, 18 August 2020
The NSDS, the Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia until 2030 (Latvia 2030), was approved by the government and adopted by the Parliament (Saeima) on June 10th 2010.
On February 25th 2020, the Latvian government approved the National Development Plan 2021-2027 for consideration by the Parliament. The plan defines the strategic goals, priorities, measures, and indicative investment needs to achieve sustainable and balanced development in the upcoming seven years. It was co-created by over 150 different stakeholders working in six working groups organised by the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre under the Prime Minister. Over 1400 comments were received in the public discussion on the draft document. Once approved by the Parliament, the National Development Plan will guide state budget and EU Fund investments.
The NDP covers the Sustainable Development Goals and comprises over 100 indicators.
The NSDS, Latvia 2030, is the core long-term strategic planning document (until 2030) and includes long-term priorities, respective goals and action lines. The medium-term National Development Plan for 2014-2020 (NDP2020) and sectoral policy planning documents contribute to the implementation of the NSDS. Planning documents of regions and municipalities are developed in compliance with the goals of the NSDS and to support implementation of the NSDS.
Responsibility for the NSDS lies with the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre, established on December 1st 2011, that answers directly to the Prime Minister.
On December 20, 2012, the Parliament (Saeima) approved the National Development Plan for 2014-2020 (NDP2020), which is the current medium-term plan for the implementation of Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia. A combined report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia and the National Development Plan 2014-2020 (in Latvian) was developed by the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre and presented to the Parliament (Saeima) on February 21, 2018. A key priority is to ensure the implementation of the NDP through the annual medium-term budget planning process, resulting in an allocation of available financing for priority measures included in the NDP to achieve the medium-term performance indicators.
Latvia has a well-coordinated planning system. Any changes to the existing NDP as well as new targets, actions and measures for the next NDP will be introduced through mid-term reviews of the currently effective policy frameworks and plans. It is during the mid-term reviews that the 2030 Agenda for SD indicators and targets can be discussed, new actions considered and respective costs assessed. For the NDP2020 the mid-term review took place in 2017.
The Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre has developed an assessment of the 169 targets against the national policy planning documents. First, the SDGs are divided in the three main groups (apply to domestic policy, development cooperation, global issues). Second, the responsible institution and, if applicable, institutions with shared responsibility are identified. The goals solely applicable to development cooperation (bilateral or multilateral) are mapped. Third, the SDG indicators for each of the targets are mapped against the Latvia2030 and NDP2020 performance indicators. Fourth, the responsible institution gives its opinion regarding the need to include the non-existent or partially covered SDG indicators in NDP2020 or the next NDP. Last, possible discussion issues are noted.
A comparison of the 2030 Agenda sub-goals to targets and performance indicators in current Latvian policy documents reveals that Latvia already has many domestic level indicators with targets that match the 2030 Agenda goals and targets.
The development of new planning tools or processes at the regional and local level has not been envisaged for the near future, since the existing ones are comprehensive, extensive and sufficient.
Latvia’s policy-making process is inclusive, and cooperation is ongoing at many different levels. When ministries begin work on policy documents, they usually inform the public via their web-sites; they also have working groups and standing committees on issues dealing with development. Before being approved by the Cabinet, all policy documents are published on the Cabinet of Minister’s website and are open to comments from interested stakeholders in an inclusive negotiation process. A monthly meeting takes place between the Prime Minister and the interested NGOs. Latvia’s plans of mainstreaming the SDGs in the planning process were presented and discussed at these meetings. The Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre and line ministries respond to requests from NGOs, the UNESCO Latvian National Committee and other non-state actors about future plans. NGOs will be providing information on their roles in implementing the NDP2020, which already includes many targets in line with the SDGs. Data and analysis is shared by the academic sector. The Employers’ Confederation and the Confederation of Trade Unions participate regularly in policy discussions, and they are also members, together with representatives of the academia, in the National Development Council. Therefore, no formal partnerships will be signed, since this would rather exclude stakeholders than guarantee inclusivity in the national implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre is responsible for long-term and medium-term planning in the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for development cooperation priorities, and Latvia’s positions on global issues are determined by the relevant ministries.
The Prime Minister is responsible for coordinating the national implementation of 2030 Agenda for SD.
All ministries are responsible for mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda in their respective priority areas.
Latvia submitted a VNR in 2018.
At present, all local governments in Latvia have adopted sustainable development strategies. These are the most important territorial development documents at the local government level. They describe problems and instruments chosen by the local governments, and propose local level solutions for economic, social and environmental issues addressed in the SDGs.
These local government sustainable development strategies have a long-term perspective that is based on Latvia 2030 and the Sustainable Development Strategy of the respective planning region. The strategic section defines the local government’s long-term development vision and main development priorities, while the section on strategic spatial development defines and schematically represents the desired spatial structure of the territory, development priorities and desired long-term changes.
According to the Development Planning System Law, planning regions ensure the co-ordination of development planning documents at local and regional levels and the compliance of development planning documents at the regional level with higher planning documents in accordance with regulations determining the development planning system.
The NSDS was elaborated taking into account goals of the EUSDS as well as development trends at the national and global level. The NSDS priorities are to a large extent aligned with those of the EUSDS. National Development Plan 2014-2020, the medium-term planning document aimed at implementing the NSDS, was prepared recognizing the need to integrate other EU policies, in particular, the Cohesion policy and the Europe 2020 Strategy into the planning process.
According to the Development Planning System Law, the National Development Council (NDC) is responsible for long-term development planning and assessment of development. National Development Council is chaired by the Prime Minister and includes the minister of education and science, the minister of economics, the minister of finance, the minister of environmental protection and regional development, a representative of the State President, as well as social partners and representatives of the most influential non-governmental organizations.
The functions of the NDC according to the Regulation of the Cabinet of Ministers on the NDC (in Latvian):
- To ensure planning process of State long-term development
- To assess implementation of the long-term planning documents and to submit proposals for new development planning documents
- To submit recommendations to the Cabinet of Ministers on State long-term development priority directions after analysis and evaluation of their potential impacts
- To submit recommendations to the Cabinet of Ministers on the development planning aspects of the State medium-term budget
- To discuss relevant structural reforms
Responsibility for the NSDS implementation and overall policy coordination and monitoring at the national level lies with the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre. The policy coordination function ensures that ministry and other government entities ensure compliance of their development planning documents with higher level planning documents, as well as with development planning regulations. NSDS and National Development Plan 2014-2020 serve as a reference documents for the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre to coordinate and ensure compliance of medium-term sectoral policies. The Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre submits proposals on the implementation of national reforms and the redistribution of resources for the implementation of national development priorities and policy guidelines.
The NGO platform LAPAS, in collaboration with its member organization - the Centre for Education Initiatives, on February 6th, 2020 spearheaded the establishment of a Cross Sectoral Coalition for the Implementation of the SDGs. Attending were representatives of different NGOs, local governments, businesses and business organizations, academic institutions, the Central Statistics Office and the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre. The Coalition will both follow SDG policies and promote information exchanges about communication, education and cooperation projects on sustainable development.
In order to understand how the SDGs are mainstreamed into Latvian policy, the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre, in cooperation with experts from line ministries, mapped the respective policy documents, policy outcomes and their performance indicators at the level of the 169 SDG targets. The mapping exercise reveals the place of SDG goals and targets in the Latvian policy hierarchy and provides insight into policy coherence and coverage. The relevance of the SDG targets to policy was also evaluated.
In 2017, the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre conducted an assessment of progress and challenges in achieving Latvia’s development goals reflected in the NDP2020 as a reference for future development planning. As a part of the assessment, a survey of opinion leaders was conducted to determine their views on the relevance of the NDP2020 goals and their progress. This was followed by analysis of statistical and secondary data on the implementation of NDP2020 and Latvia 2030, including the progress towards reaching performance indicator values. Civil servants, Members of Parliament, ministers, government social and cooperation partners, businessmen, representatives of non-governmental organizations, representatives of planning regions, and heads of local governments, journalists, researchers and academics participated in this survey.
An investment analysis was done to see how much money was spent from the national budget, EU funds, as well as local government budgets to achieve progress. Conclusions were drawn on the progress and the perception of progress (often there is a difference between perception and data-reflected trends) at the level of the 12 areas of direction covered by the National Development Plan. Recommendations were made for future action. Before the impact assessment was approved by the Cabinet and Parliament, the conclusions and recommendations were discussed at a national conference.
This also has fed into work done on the NDP2027.
The set of indicators to monitor sustainable development was set within the NSDS in 2010. The SD indicators are used for the overall assessment of SD in Latvia. Every other year, the Prime Minister reports on progress toward the medium-term national development plan and the NSDS. The report includes indicators and an assessment (from -2 to +2) of progress toward achieving the targets. The body of the report includes policy assessments derived from the indicators and other data, academic studies, surveys, expert commentaries, media etc., line ministry assessment and other relevant information, as well as recommendations. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the 1st report on implementing the NSDS and sustainable development on 4th December 2012. A second, combined report on the NSDS and the NDP was approved by the Parliament (Saeima) on October 1st, 2015 and a third one on February 21, 2018.
Latvia’s policy-making process is inclusive, and cooperation is ongoing at many different levels. There was wide public involvement in the preparation of the NSDS in 2010 and the NDP2020 (in 2012) and NDP 2027 (in 2019).
For the NSDS - many regional forums and discussions took place before the draft was approved in 2010. There was also a national forum with the participation of over 1000 people. The consultation process led to improvements of the final draft. General information on the strategy was available on the NSDS website. The NSDS was nominated among best twenty entries for the Reinhardt Mohn prize awarded for success in vitalizing enhanced democratic participation.
The public participates in the SDG Review process as it does in any inclusive policy process. Individuals, non-governmental organisations and the public administration engage as they deem most appropriate.
- take part at any policy-making stage – problem identification, development of planning documents, policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation;
- become involved in public consultations, in formal and informal working groups, advisory councils and other forums, send written opinions;
- comment document drafts published on the relevant public institution’s website under the section “Public Participation”. (All official institutions have public participation sections on their websites).
Public participation in the creation of NDP2021 (in 2012) and NDP2027 (in 2019) followed these tenets. Steering committees were set up in both cases. Working groups co-created the content of the NDPs. Seminars and discussions were initiated both by the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre and by stakeholders, first drafts were put online, taken into consideration. All suggestions were commented and published. The next draft was taken through the steering committee level and through to the National Development Council (which includes representatives of employers, workers, academia, local government and government) before being considered by the Cabinet (the meeting is online and representatives of different groups publicly stated their opinions). The process for the NDP 2027 differed from the previous process mainly in the increase in stakeholder participation in the working groups (up from 12 in 2012 to 40 and over in 2019) and in the number of stakeholders that initiated national development planning events providing input into the content of the plan.
In 2020, the NGO platform LAPAS, in collaboration with its member organization- the Center for Education Initiatives spearheaded the establishment of a Cross Sectoral Coalition for the Implementation of the SDGs. Attending were representatives of different NGOs, local governments, businesses and business organizations, academic institutions, the Central Statistics Office and the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre. The Coalition will both follow SDG policies and promote information exchanges about communication, education and cooperation projects on sustainable development.
At the sub-national level, all planning regions and local municipalities have developed territorial plans. Most of them have approved long-term sustainable development strategies and development programs, which are elaborated in accordance with SD principles stated in the relevant national legislation, as well as priorities and goals of the NDP and NSDS.