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SOCIAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN LITHUANIA

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POVERTY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Poverty is not a national priority, but employment is a major concern.

Legislation related to the issue of poverty is covered by the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the Law on the Support of the Employed and the Law of State Social Insurance. Article 48 of the Constitution guarantees the right to work and the right to social security. Every person has the right to get proper pay for work and social security in the case of unemployment. State social insurance accounts for the largest share of the social security system of the Republic of Lithuania and consists of pension insurance, maternity and sickness insurance, health insurance, and insurance against unemployment and accidents at work. Unemployment insurance contributions must be paid by permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania who are employed.

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   

The unemployment rate in Lithuania increased during the past few years, and this has led to a substantial reduction in standard of living in some sectors of society. Some social, educational and labor policy measures have been taken to redress the problem. Access to primary health care, clean water and sanitation, and primary education is rather sufficient with some exceptions.

The major group receiving public assistance is the unemployed. Clients have the opportunity to participate in and influence the planning and execution of social welfare and the assistance provided through social insurance units.

Threatening income differences due to persistent unemployment have been controlled through unemployment insurance schemes. Provision of social welfare in communities is subsidized financially by the state. The amount of unemployment benefit and the procedure and conditions for payment are provided for in Articles 15, 16, 161, 17, 18, 19 of the Law on the Support of the Employed of the Republic of Lithuania. Such provisions are made in the Law on Social Security.

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.

  * * *

This information is based on Lithuania's reports to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development. Last update:   April 1997.

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DEMOGRAPHICS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of Social Security and Labor is the most directly concerned with demographic issues, but the Ministry of Health Care and the Migration Department at the Ministry of Interior are also involved in decision-making in this area. 

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   

For the last five years demographic changes in Lithuania have violated long-term trends. At the same time, the population distribution is changing: it is decreasing in the towns and increasing in the rural areas. At present, most of the families in Lithuania have one or two children. Since the beginning of the 1970s the highest fertility indicators were among women aged 20-24 years. For the few last years, the fertility indicators decreased among women in all fertility groups. Economic regression, housing problems and unemployment are the main reasons for this decrease in births. During 1990-1995 the total fertility indicator dropped from 2.00 to 1.50. There is as yet no national policy on demographic dynamics and sustainability In the Government's view, population growth and the fertility level are too low.

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

Many international projects are carried out at the Department of Demography of the Lithuanian Institute of Philosophy and Sociology. The following projects are coordinated by United Nations, Economic Commission for Europe, Population Activities Unit (UN/ECE/PAU): (1) Fertility and Family Surveys in Countries of the ECE Region (20 countries take part); (2) Population Related Policies in Countries of the ECE Region (20 countries, project finished in 1994); (3) Reproductive Health in Central and Eastern European Countries (8 countries); (4) Causes and Selected Consequences of Emigration from Central and Eastern Europe (3 countries); and (5)The Dynamics of Population Ageing in ECE Countries (more than 20 countries). The European Commission coordinates the project "Migration - Europe's Integration and the Labor Force Brain Drain (10 countries). The project "Illegal Transit Migration in Lithuania" is coordinated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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This information is based on Lithuania's reports to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development. Last update:  April 1997.

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HEALTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of Health Care is the main body in Lithuania responsible for the protection and promotion of human health. The National Health Education Center is the main governmental institution implementing health education on the national level.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The reform process began in 1990 and was marked by adoption of a number of legislative acts: the Law on the Reform of State Financed Hospitals (1992), the Law on Pharmaceutical Activities (1991), the Law on the Social Integration of Invalids (1991), the Law on the Health Care (1994), the Law on Mental Health (1995), the Law on Alcohol Control (1995), the Law on Tobacco Control (1996), and the Law on Health Insurance (1996). The greatest financial reform of the health care system is expected to begin in 1997, after the Law on Health Insurance has come into force. Main plans are the harmonization of legislative regulations in order to meet the European Union standards.

The National Health Concept was adopted by the Parliament of Lithuania in 1991, based on the principles of the WHO program "Health for All-2000". The Law on the Health System was adopted in 1994. According to the law, the national health system is divided into two parts: individual health care and public health care. Public health care institutions are responsible for public health epidemic, hygienic and sanitary conditions of the environment, health education and promotion. Public health is under the responsibility of the State and municipalities. The state control of public health covers alcohol, tobacco, narcotic substances, and environmental protection as well as the state medical audit. Municipalities maintain sanitary control of the living environment. Individual health care institutions exist at three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. The institution of general practice or family doctor forms the primary health care level. The secondary level provides the main specialized in-patient and out-patient medical care. The tertiary health institutions are university and national clinics which provide very specialized in-patient treatment and out-patient consultations and are basic institutions for training of physicians and other health care professionals.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans    

The Lithuanian national Strategy for Health is under discussion and is expected to be adopted in the near future. The Strategy is based on three key areas: coronary heart diseases and stroke, cancer and trauma.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available.

Status 

The Public Health Surveillance Service was established within the Ministry of Health in 1994. It consists of 11 regional public health centers subordinate to the State Public Health Center. There is also a National Center for Health Education. A programme to increase the effectiveness of health education between the years 1996 and 2000 was prepared by this Center, and Lithuania is a participant in the Healthy Schools Network as well as a participant in a regional stroke prevention project. The pilot activity was encouraged and surveyed by the UNDP supported Health Care Reform Management Bureau in the Ministry of Health. This Bureau, PHARE and UNDP have facilitated a national debate on the future of the health service.

Challenges  

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

The concept of health promotion and health education is new in Lithuania. The main priorities for health education on the national level are prevention of risk factors and promotion of healthy lifestyle; and prevention of diseases (coronary heart diseases and stroke, cancer, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases) and trauma.

Information   

No information is available.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available.

Financing 

The base amount of the financing of health care comes from state and municipal budgets. Each year the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania establishes the amount of funds allocated to this purpose. Lately, the costs of health care have exceeded Gross Domestic Product by 4%. The funds are allocated through the Ministry of Health (about 30% of costs), through municipalities (55%) and through insurance (15%).

Cooperation  

No information is available.

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This information is based on Lithuania's reports to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development. Last update:  April 1997.

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   

Most important decisions are taken by the Seimas or the Government in coordination with the Science Council of Lithuania. The Science Council is a self-governing institution for the organization and financing of science and education. The activities within the framework of research and technological development are guided by the Seimas, the Parliamentary Committee of Science and Culture, the Parliamentary Committee of Agriculture and the Parliamentary Committee of Economy. The Confederation of Industrialists and the Lithuanian Chamber of Trade, Industry and Crafts also provide advice on these issues. The Ministry of Education and Science jointly with the United Nations Development Programme and the Lithuanian Joint Stock Innovation Bank have established the Lithuanian Innovation Center.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Higher education in Lithuania is regulated by the Law on Research and Higher Education of the Republic of Lithuania adopted in 1991.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

One of the main provisions of the Lithuanian Environmental Strategy as well as the draft of the Lithuanian Public Environmental Education Strategy and Action Programme is to develop partnerships among educators, scientists, governments, NGOs, business and industry, youth, the media and other major groups. There are several scientific centers of particular interest to environment and development, for instance the Pollution Prevention Center at Kaunas University of Technology, the Environmental Study Center at Vilnius University, and the Environmental Protection Engineering Center at Vilnius Gedimino Technology University.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status   

Education is free of charge in the state education institutions. All children under 16 who have not graduated from basic school must attend comprehensive or vocational schools.  

Challenges  

At present, the text of the draft Public Environmental Education Strategy and Action Programme is not available in English.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

The Lithuanian Environmental Strategy includes issues on public awareness and environmental education for sustainability. The Lithuanian Public Environmental Education Strategy and Action Programme, which is based on the principles of sustainable development, was expected to be approved by the Government by the end of 1997. 

Environmental education based on principles of sustainable development is, however, integrated into education curricula at all levels.

Pre-schools

The content of environmental education is provided in the pre-school programmes: "Verinelis" (String), "Ikimokyklinio ugdymo gaires" (Guides for Preschool Education), "Etninio ugdymo programa" (Programme for Ethics Education) as well as in additional methodical material (publications for teachers and parents, exercising notebooks for children, etc.).

Comprehensive schools

In 1996, the General Education Curricula for Comprehensive School was approved. It envisages continuous environmental education through the integration of environmental issues into different subjects. There are various programmes for different grades, e.g. "Gamta ir zmogus" (Nature and Man) for the fifth grade, "Ekologijos pagrindai" (Bases of the Ecology), "Chemija ir aplinka" (Chemistry and Environment) for the tenth grade, etc.

Vocational schools

Environmental education is integrated into different subjects as in the comprehensive schools.

Colleges

Environmental knowledge is integrated into the course of different specializations, e.g. students take environmental courses at the colleges of agriculture, students of technical colleges have the course "Aplinkos pletra" (Development of the Environment), etc.

Higher schools (advanced education)

Knowledge on environment and ecology are provided for most students in advanced education. Professional environmental specialists are being prepared at seven higher schools: Vilnius University, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Kaunas University of Technology, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuanian University of Agriculture, Klaipeda University, Kaunas Medical Academy.

With regard to awareness raising, the public is constantly being informed on the implementation of the Lithuanian Environmental Strategy. This is done through various radio and TV programmes which are organized by the editorial offices of the TV and radio stations with information and support provided by public authorities. The public also receives a considerable amount of environmental information through the Lithuanian press. There are separate pages on environmental issues in daily newspapers as well as several environmental newspapers and magazines.

With regard to innovative approaches to educate and raise awareness, all targets groups (teachers, pupils, representatives of local authorities, NGOs, etc.) are taking part in the implementation of the Project Agenda 21 at school on raising public awareness and environmental education for sustainable development. There are also a lot of local projects, based on guides of the draft of the Lithuanian Public Environmental Education Strategy and which are a part of the general Action Program. Local communities are educated and informed during the implementation such local projects.

Some examples of these innovative approaches are:

"Agenda 21 at school" described above;

"Brook" - national ecological education project. Participants in this project are teachers, students of secondary and some vocational schools, and NGOs. Students make observations and measure different levels of water pollution according to methodological book "By the river".

"Ecological Education at School". The main goal of this project is to help teachers integrate environmental education into the general education process. Seminars for teachers from different regions are organized so that they in turn can train local teachers. A publication "Nojaus laivas" (Boat of Nojus) on active ecological education methods has been prepared.

"Improving democracy in the community". The main goal of this project to provide financial support for the best local environmental project. Competitions to select these project are organized at secondary schools in different regions in Lithuania.

Programme for Local Initiative. The main goal of this project is to disseminate knowledge on energy saving and natural resource conservation through the organization of seminars and campaigns. Participants include teachers, pupils, parents, representatives of public authorities, scientists, etc.

Information 

There is no specific World Wide Web Site for information on education and sustainable development in Lithuania. However, many public authorities and NGOs have their own pages on the Internet, with information related to sustainable development, e.g. the Environmental Protection Ministry <http:www.gamta.lt>.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available.

Financing 

Every year when the Seimas approves the State budget, allocations for research and higher education are envisaged. The Government, upon recommendation of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Council of Science, allocates funds directly to research and higher education institutions and infrastructure. Funds from the state budget are also allocated for the preparation and implementation of public programmes.

Cooperation  

No information is available.

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This information is based on Lithuania's reports to the 5th and 6th Sessions of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development, April 1997 and 1998. Last update:  January 1998.

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HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of Construction and Urban Development is the main coordinator of territorial planning in Lithuania. At the local, county, level, coordination is undertaken by the chief architects.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Territorial planning is regulated by the Law on Territorial Planning (1995) and the Construction Law (1996).

Introducing the regulation on public participation in the planning process (the last one in 1996) contributed to transparency of use of land and to better use of public and private land, and it responded to the political need of direct public participation in management and development of home and neighborhood. The law on planning of territories provides measures to prevent the illegal occupation of land. Abrupt changes from state control to practically full reliance on private initiative in housing issues introduced new trends in settlement development.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The principle of sustainability has been adopted as the major general principle for all development issues for guiding the comprehensive national strategic plan of the country (under preparation now). It is meant also for improvement of inter-sectoral co-ordination at the local, regional and national levels.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects   

The State housing programme (July 1992) has been especially oriented to investment policy, reduction of energy consumption and improvement of the characteristics of the existing building stock (thermal insulation). This means a general change from extensive use of resources towards a sustainable approach. The growth of population is very slow, which, together with reduced industrial production, creates easier conditions in this transition period of the society from an environmental point of view (natural resources, waste, atmosphere; supply of shelter, infrastructure and service).

The Hazardous Waste Treatment State Programme (1993) envisages a general system for all the country. A domestic waste dumping system exists, but needs improvement and modernization. Many national programmes serve for better motivation of settlement development. One of them is the State Programme of use and protection of entrails of earth resources (1994).

Status 

The first steps towards creating post-war settlement structure development in Lithuania were made in the early 1960s, when a nation-wide structure for comparatively evenly-dispersed urban centers' structure was proposed based on historically developed centers. In this way sustainability was taken into account not only from the environmental point of view, but also from that of cultural heritage. After regaining independence in 1990, major changes in spatial planning organization took place, due to the changed status of the country, new/retrieved responsibilities at all levels of administration, and new ownership relations (private ownership restored). The principle of subsidiarity and decentralization of decision making is gradually gaining its momentum. The last period (1994-1996) brought changes into the administrative division of the state territory. Former national and local municipal levels were complemented by a regional one (since 1994), based on the inherited structure of urban centers.

In general, public transport is the main means of transport despite the fast increasing numbers of private cars. Recently-set technical restrictions to vehicles will serve to minimize negative impacts on the environment in settlements.

Challenges

Engineering infrastructure in Lithuanian settlements still needs improvement, especially in the case of water treatment (need of modernization, reconstruction and extension). This is a serious burden on the budget of local municipalities. The protection and rational use of fresh water resources was ensured through comprehensive settlement plans. Improvements on the general strategy must be made.

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

Lithuania cooperates with the neighboring countries through bilateral and multinational programmes, agreements, meetings and seminars. Cooperation with the Nordic and Baltic countries including Russia, Belarus and Poland in the field of territorial planning has been underway since 1992 through a multinational project entitled, Vision and Strategies Around the Baltic Sea 2010. Transborder cooperation between Poland and Lithuania has existed since 1995 on the basis of the Agreement between the Polish Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning and the Lithuanian Ministry of Construction and Urban Development. There are agreements between the Lithuanian Ministry and corresponding ministries in Finland and Denmark. Activities include exchange of information, technical assistance, and provision of legal documents. Cooperation in sustainable housing was established with Nordic countries as well as among countries in Central and Eastern Europe through preparation of housing and urban indicators intended for the United Nation Conference on Human Settlements Habitat II.

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This information is based on Lithuania's reports to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development. Last update:  April 1997.

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