North-Kurzeme Coastal region, Gulf of Riga, Latvia

Communication and Education for Sustainable Development and Natural Protection

Knowledge and Education
Local Economy Development
A region presenting good practice examples in terms of communication, education & environmental awareness, local communities’ involvement to improve governance for a coastal-rural sustainable development, reduce conflict, increase collaboration and foster innovations.


The Gulf of Riga is a bay in the Baltic Sea between Estonia and Latvia. The coastal-rural region of North-Kurzeme is located on the North-West side of the Gulf in the Latvian part (West of the capital Riga). The area is mainly covered by sandy beaches and forests. Forestry, fishery, and tourism are the main sectoral activities in a, still, under-developed natural coastal area. It was quite well known in Latvia because of the early municipal cooperation on general matters that begun in 1997 among several local municipalities.




  • Lack of cooperation
  • Lack of information / education
  • Public awareness & lifestyle 
  • Spatial planning
  • Sustainable economic growth


The North-Kurzeme region in the Gulf of Riga region offers multiple examples of sustainable and environmental awareness initiatives towards coastal-rural communities to facilitate sustainable coastal development and answer communication and education issues often encountered in a coastal-rural region, as seen in the COASTAL project local sectoral workshops. A school environmental education process has been coupled with a related social partnership in a small-scale municipality (e.g. an eco-schools approach) as a comprehensive instrument for furthering collaboration capacities and networking. The long-term objective for this school & outreach strategy was to facilitate the development of local human resource capacities and municipal understanding of sustainable coastal development. The school has an environmental education development plan (development of the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitude towards both nature and also the cultural environment), aimed to improve the school’s inner and outside physical and creative environment, as well as encourage regular professional and collaboration training for teachers and all other staff. Learning trails and “green classes” were designed in the nearby coastal dune forest; clean-up and different infrastructural, innovative work activities were spread into the community and new collaboration partnerships were established. Moreover, a long-term strategy for the school’s contribution to municipal sustainable coastal development. The municipality and tourism office were key supporters of the project as well as an EU LIFE initiative. The Eco-school project was a trigger for local community social partnership and the development of ICZM practices at the municipality level. 

Another good practice example is the development of a coastal communication network and platform focused on coastal information, education/training, coastal participation, and an environmentally friendly behaviour/green lifestyle approach in an informal rural community setting. The initiative was prepared to create a participatory governance system in order to take care of the ongoing coastal management problems characterized by a lack of institutional cooperation and stakeholders’ participation and a very different level of information, professional education, participation experience, and management skills associated with the general environmental communication problems. Furthermore, the initiative aims to create the preconditions for the realisation of a more environmentally friendly behaviour and green lifestyle via coastal sustainability awareness-raising. Coastal communication tools were developed based on both bottom-up activities (facilitation for inhabitants and their interests), and top-down activities (adequate information sharing, local/regional education and training orientation and implementation, coordination and participation activities and mechanisms as well as personal and professional “green behavior” facilitation). 

Finally, a Local Agenda 21 (LA21) approach was applied to develop participatory governance (foster institutional cooperation and public participation) for conflict resolution. Participatory governance via a Round Table Forum was developed, coastal communication via formal and informal Rural Communication Networking, as well as the application of coastal indicators and the design and implementation of the Regional Sustainable Development Demonstration projects.  At the national level, Latvia collaborated in the implementation of the CoastLearn platform, a free, online, multimedia, internet-based training package on ICZM for policy-makers, planners, students, NGO,s and anyone interested in coastal management (Policy Analysis, Planning, Environmental Risk Assessment, Sustainable Tourism, GIS, Public Participation, and Biodiversity) and ICZM principals. It promotes the exchange of knowledge and experience by providing practical examples and case studies illustrating the most important issues. (see further details in Pickaver, 2015c). These initiatives can also contribute to coastal risk management from a climate change perspective, by supporting the coastal governance process since, as suggested by Ernsteins et al. (2015) following his research in Latvia, necessary preconditions for this process are:

  • a better understanding by municipal leadership and the general public of the importance of identifying
  • analysing and communicating environmental risks
  • a change in public behaviour towards more active participation in environmental risk identification and communication processes
  • coordinated and effective communication and collaboration among all involved actors and stakeholders.


Cooperation and exchange to support local sustainable business



  • Improve communication and governance


Collaboration and exchange of good practices can help local entrepreneurs to expand and diversify their business, taking as an example one of the FARNET good practice project. LEADER LAGs from Estonia, Finland, and Latvia have initiated a cooperation project to help small rural entrepreneurs develop linkages with similar businesses in neighbouring countries, while at the same time involving young people who could in the future take over the business. The practice aims at promoting knowledge and innovation diffusion between small-scale rural businesses to get inspiration from similar activities in order to develop new products and skills. The project is based on exchange visits between local businesses in different countries, involving potential young entrepreneurs to create future vocations. The project also involves information and promotion activities, study trips, and events to exchange and disseminate the experience to other potentially interested entrepreneurs, as well as the production of transnational marketing material for sustainable, rural tourism and local food from the participating LAG areas.