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SOCIAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN HUNGARY

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POVERTY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

In Hungary, the Ministry of Welfare, the Institute of Public Health, and the Ministry of Labour are responsible for national poverty programmes, the development of legal instruments, and programme implementation and international obligations.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

The National Conciliation Council (a forum of the government, employers, and employees) represents the different interests of the labour market. Trade unions (for example, the Federation of Hungarian Trade Unions), NGOs, municipalities, religious communities, and Regional Labour Centres help to solve social problems by organizing various programmes, providing financial resources, and representing different interests.

Programmes and Projects 

Funds from the Phare programme contributes both to social sector reform and the softening of the social consequences of the economic transformation. For the period 1995-1999, reform of the social sector remains a Phare priority. For example through the Social Welfare Programme (3 million ECU/521 million HUF, 1990) 1,500 jobs have been created. This programme has been implemented by the Foundation for the Development of Local Social Networks. The Social Policy Development Programme (6 million ECU/1.048 million HUF, 1992) targets reform of the social sector. The Employment and Social Development Programme (20 million ECU/3.494 million HUF, 1992), managed by the Ministry of Labour, aims at enhancing employment and human resources development. The Health System Restructuring Programme (10 million ECU/1.747 million HUF, 1993), provides for economically more efficient primary health care with an approach which focuses on the patient. It is expected that further programmes will be initiated in the social sector.

Status 

The Government aims to create a sustainable welfare system. The main steps to realize this are reorganization of the social insurance system, and increasing the provision of direct assistance to indigents (by reforming the family, the pension, and the educational supporting systems). Under this national strategy, the implementation of its various elements is ongoing and coordinated by the Ministries of Labour, Welfare, and Finance. The management, decision making structure, and financial basis of the social welfare system has been fully reorganized. Special assistance funds have been established for the poorest social strata. These cover, for example, compensation funds for certain highly increased services costs, and vocational training courses. Parts of environment-related funds are spent for pollution abatement programmes, projects, and investments; which contribute to local capacity building, and increased working opportunities.

Sociologists and statisticians estimate that the population living below the poverty level in Hungary is about 30-35%. This high rate is mainly due to the deep recession that has characterized the first stage of the transition process. Both social differentiation and the poverty gap have increased significantly. The groups most affected by poverty are the unemployed; those with low salary; women (their salaries or pensions are usually lower than for men); those who suffer from chronic sickness; gypsies (a significant minority with higher then average rates of unemployment); old people, and the rural population.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies  

No information is available.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Hungary to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

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DEMOGRAPHICS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

In 1988, Hungary joined the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees.

The government agency responsible for the coordination of decisions related to demographic issues is the Ministry of Welfare. The Constitution of the Hungarian Republic, the Health Act, and the law on contraception and abortion (passed by the Parliament in December 1992) form a regulatory framework for population policies.

A number of economic instruments are used to encourage families to bring up children. These include: maternity allowance, childbirth leave, child-care leave, family allowance, tax benefits, work-related benefits, children's institutions, and maternal- and child health-care services.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The most important target of population policy is to stop the decreasing trend and to achieve a modest population growth. The Government views both the fertility and population growth rates as too low. Increasing fertility, decreasing mortality, and strengthening the material and social conditions of families are regarded as important priorities.

Hungarian Population Policy has followed the recommendations of the World Population Plan of Action, taking into consideration specific features of the Hungarian population situation and interests.

The Government has defined the long-term basic principles of the population policy for the next decades. In particular, some basic actions to increase fertility have been adopted. These measures include: preparing the population to increase the readiness to have children; supporting parents to fulfill both their working and parental roles; improving the housing situation; ensuring the financial and institutional conditions for child-care; and improving working conditions and creating a better division of work between parents. The basic instrument of financial support for families will be the family allowance, a system which the Government intends to develop further with respect to the increasingly differentiated incomes and the costs of childbearing. When designing the long-term health policy, an increase in the number of planned and desired pregnancies and a decrease in unplanned and undesired pregnancies must be the basic principle supported by all possible means. The conditions of pre-natal care, delivery, and new-born care must be improved.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

The national programme for the improvement and development of the health status of the population is called For a Healthier Nation. The programme strives first for primary prevention, but also pays attention to specific treatment fields of health-care. The programme is intended to gain legitimacy based on a wide consensus by Government Decision and by Parliamentary Resolution. Other sectors such as volunteer organizations, local self-government, and management in the work place could also find it possible to join this programme.

Status 

Groups dealing with family issues can be divided into four basic types: organizations engaged in child- and youth-welfare; organizations supporting handicapped people; religious organizations; and women's organizations. Such organizations include: the Association of Hungarian Women, the Association for the Protection of the Fetus, and the Association of Large Families.

Under the 1992 fertility and mortality conditions, the population decrease is projected to continue at a rising rate. By 2020, the population is expected to be 8 percent less than in 1993, and 11.5 percent less than in 1980 when the decline started. In addition, the aging process is projected to continue further. A specific characteristic of the Hungarian population is that mortality is unusually high for a country of its socioeconomic and cultural level. The mortality level had been gradually improving until the mid-1960s but, since then, has significantly deteriorated.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies  

No information is available.

Financing

The overwhelming part of social support costs is covered by the state budget, while a smaller part is provided for by Social Insurance. The local self-governments play a significant role in social support and in supporting children's institutions. The most important elements of the institutional system available in the near past and at present are the following: maternity allowance, childbirth leave, child-care leave, family allowance, tax benefits, work-related benefits, children's institutions, and maternal- and child health-care services. Due to the decreased resources that characterize the present transition period, it has been rather complicated to maintain necessary resource provisions for the above instruments and facilities. Apparently, more financial resources are needed to ensure effective implementation of the current population policy.

Cooperation

Hungary has a long history of cooperation with the UN and its specialized agencies. Hungary participated in the 1974 World Population Conference and in the 1984 International Conference on Population. Cooperation with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) started in 1987. Thus, Hungary became the first former socialist country to join the international organization dealing with refugee problems.

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This information was provided by the Government of Hungary to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

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HEALTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

In Hungary, the primary responsibility for protecting human health lies with the Ministry of Welfare. Its regulatory and programme work is supported by several institutes, and a network of health care institutions and consultative bodies. A special national interagency body has been established on public health issues. This organization substantially contributed to the preparation of the national health programme and one of its subcommittees coordinated the preparation of the Environmental Health Action Plan.

Other ministries and agencies also contribute to the preparation and implementation of health programmes. The Ministry for Environment and Regional Policy, for example, actively took part in the preparation of the Environmental Health Action Plan. The National Public Health Center plans and finances public health programmes.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

In terms of primary health care, Hungary participates in the World Health Organization (WHO) programme Health for All by the Year 2000. A national programme, Towards a Healthier Nation, has also been introduced. This programme gives a framework for regional and local programmes. The main targets of the programme are: to decrease the incidence of avoidable death in particular areas (for example, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers); to establish screening programmes for major diseases; to increase the capacity for epidemiology of non-communicable diseases; educational programmes for health promotion; and campaigns against tobacco smoking, and venereal and other communicable diseases, especially AIDS. A National Environmental Health Action Plan (NEHAP) was also submitted to Parliament in 1996.

Status 

The number of doctors and other medical positions has increased continuously in recent years, but the work to improve primary health care is still at an early stage. However, the number of medical facilities in rural areas has not changed considerably. No changes have occurred either in the number or density of primary health care districts.

The number of communicable diseases, especially those preventable by vaccination, has decreased remarkably in recent decades. In 1991, age-related vaccination coverage varied between 97.8% and 99.9%. The system of age-related mandatory vaccination will be maintained. Emphasis is being put on decreasing the incidence of such diseases as enteric infections, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Lifestyles and the state of health among school children, including high school students, have been examined. The survey, conducted on 5,800 children aged 11-16 years, showed a notable lack of health education in the Hungarian school system. The report recommends creating a comprehensive health education plan for all school levels; and for professionals working as teachers, nurses, and family doctors.

Approximately 11.2% of Hungary's territory and 44.3% of its population are affected by polluted air. The National Emission Measurement Network has been measuring SO2, NO2, and quantities of sediment dust at 680 sampling sites. According to 1992 data, acceptable levels were exceeded in more than 10% of the major cities. Air emission levels are announced daily to the public at large. In addition, programmes have been introduced to, for example, reduce lead exposure from public transportation and to lower nitrification of drinking water.

Recent changes in the political and social structure of society have not been favourable to improved health care. In terms of implementing the Towards a Healthier Nation programme, the main problems encountered relate to the insufficient level of resources (lack of experts, financial resources, and infrastructure).

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies  

No information is available.

Financing

For 1994, the estimated costs of various health care programmes were: age-related vaccination programme US$1.9 million; programme for sexually transmitted disease control US$1.0 million; prevention of congenital anomalies US$0.5 million; measuring and decreasing urban air pollution US$325,000; and reducing health risks from environmental pollution and hazards US$1.0 million.

Cooperation

With respect to international cooperation, Hungary takes part in the WHO EUROHEALTH programmes, including Healthy Infants and Mothers and Healthy Aging. WHO Collaborating Centers for these programmes operate in the Medical University of Budapest and the National Institute of Health Promotion. Approximately US$4.2 million has been received from the European Union's Phare programme for the on-line measuring network of air emissions. The International Cooperation Agency of Japan has provided US$370,000 for the Sajó valley, Hungary's most polluted area. Hungary also cooperates with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the WHO Center for Environment and Health on a bilateral basis.

 

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Hungary to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

For Hungary's National Environmental Health Action Plan, clickhere.
For national information on human health, click here.
For national information on noise and health damage, click here.
Click here to go to the Health and health-related statistical information from the World Health Organization.

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EDUCATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The environmental education sector is the joint responsibility of the Ministry for Environment and Regional Policy and the Ministry of Culture and Public Education. School-system education-training provides general and professional environmental knowledge in nursery schools, public education, professional education and higher education.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

There have not been any overall environmental education programmes developed for all age levels. However, since the education system is being modernized, the opportunity exists and is being used to include environmental education into the revised curricula. Sections 54 and 55 of the Act on Environmental Protection (1995) deal with environmental education, training, and culture.

An Environmental School Network was established by the Ministry for Culture and Education in December 1992 with the mandate to provide a framework for schools to more closely cooperate in the development of environmental education. This network allows schools that are more advanced to share their experiences with schools that are just beginning their involvement with environmental education. In addition, the National Environmental Scientific Student Congress is organized every two years. At the fourth congress in 1994, almost 200 studies were received in the field of environmental protection, nature conservation, environmental economics, environmental technology, and education and ecology.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

As a contribution towards sustainable development education, a teaching/training packet entitled "People and their Environment" has been developed. It contains a school book, a curriculum, a manual for teachers, a problem manual for field practice, and a series of slides. It is the basis for a course of the same name which is being taught in over 185 secondary schools. The packet was created by notable environmental experts and 70,000 copies of the book have been printed to date.

In Hungary, special attention is given to the role of media in the dissemination of environmental information, and in raising public awareness on environmental protection or the more general aspects of sustainable development. Apparently, more information has been published by the media on environmental issues during the last decade. A special training course has also been initiated for journalists with environmental interest. Various environmental NGOs also take part in raising public awareness on environmental hazards and environmentally sound solutions by issuing special publications, press releases, or organizing various campaigns. Financial resources for public awareness can be provided from various sources (including the Central Environmental Fund).

Progress has been achieved in teaching environmental knowledge to professional disciplines. Technical training is also in progress to prepare people to manage the environmental protection problems of local governments. Environmental protection training has been emphasized in a World Bank project for the innovation of professional training. Many of the schools accepted into the programme took part in the development of new curricula and materials.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies  

No information is available.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Hungary to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

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HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The bodies mainly responsible for sustainable human settlement development in Hungary are the Ministry of Environment and Regional Policy, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Culture and Public Education. A new Act on Regional Development recently ratified by Parliament emphasizes both short- and long-term planning and introduces institutional mechanisms for this task.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Hungary has signed the following international conventions related to human settlements: the Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1985), the Convention on the Protection of European Architectural Heritage (1990), and the Convention on the Protection of European Archaeological Heritage (1992).

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Development and modernization of human settlements and infrastructure are considered important in Hungary. The national development policy directs that special attention be paid to the underdeveloped regions and rural areas of the country, as well as to the remarkable differences between the western and eastern halves of the country. The aim is to strengthen regional planning, strengthen the relevant capacities and mandates for the coordination and cooperation between local governments, and to enhance information collection. The creation of a healthy, aesthetic, and ecologically sustainable living environment that is in harmony with nature and takes into account society's values is regarded as one of the main objectives for the near future. In addition, protection of the "man-made environment," (for example, the architectural cultural heritage and historical monuments) is regarded as significant.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

A comprehensive national regional development programme has been submitted to Parliament and includes the identification of priorities, formulation of basic policy directions, and measures for regional development and sustainable human settlement development. In addition, a new legal instrument on the built environment has recently been adopted.

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

As Hungary is an economy in transition, the lack of financial resources, unemployment, and collapse of statistical data service systems are constraints encountered in the development and implementation of sustainable human settlements.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No information is available.  

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

Hungary cooperates with the UN on human settlements. It attended HABITAT II where it presented the basic elements of its national programme. A regional information center of HABITAT is located in Budapest. Hungary also actively cooperates with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on regional policy and human settlements.

 

 

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Hungary to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

For national information on human settlements, click here.
For information on the noise load in human settlements, click here.
Click here to access "BEST PRACTICES FOR HUMAN SETTLEMENTS"
For information related to human settlements and refugees, you may access the UNHCR Country Index by clicking here:


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