During the 1.5-day conference in Banská Bystrica, participants learned current information about air quality in Slovakia. Lecturers from Slovakia and surrounding countries (Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Italy) shared examples of good practice. The first day of the conference was closed by the educational show of the legendary Smokeman. The second day of the conference belonged to financial instruments and methods of communication in the field of air protection. The conclusion of the conference was reserved for interactive consultations of regional air quality managers with conference participants.
Legislation, conceptual, planning and program activities
In the area of legislation, the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic is preparing a new Act on Air Protection and the Act on Charges for Air Pollution, which are necessary to achieve good air quality in Slovakia.
New air quality management plans are currently being prepared. The new legislation promises to streamline the air quality management mechanism - the plans will be methodically guided, each measure will have performance indicators and a public deduction of the implementation of measures will be made annually.
Capacity building and cooperation
The conference participants identified the lack of specialized staff as a significant problem in air quality management. The district offices responsible for issuing the plans are undersized and the staff from the various areas often accumulates an agenda.
The role of the LIFE IP – Air Quality Improvement project is to improve the implementation of plans to improve air quality in Slovakia by strengthening the capacities and competencies of regional and local authorities and supporting measures in the field of air quality. For this reason, a national network of air quality managers has been established, whose task is to provide expert advice to state administration and self-government bodies. Other important activities are education and awareness raising, by which the project responds to the need to implement regular training and educational activities targeted at the needs of representatives of state administration, self-government, research and educational organizations, non-profit organizations, business and the public.
Information support and public awareness
In an effort to improve air quality, it is important to raise public awareness. As part of the project Improving the National Air Quality Monitoring Network, the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute is expanding the network with 14 new sites not yet covered by monitoring. In the last year, automated monitoring stations have been added in 10 cities in Slovakia. It is necessary to continue the planned expansion of the monitoring network and the improvement of modeling in order to provide quality information for planning, decision-making and control processes.
In connection with the notified counseling centers, which should be established in connection with the prepared financial instruments (Recovery Plan, Boiler Grant), it is necessary to look for synergies and improve approaches to deepening public awareness of the air quality.
Implementation of financial instruments
The planned financial assistance for households (Recovery Plan, Bioler Grant) must be implemented in a user-friendly and easily feasible form without a significant administrative burden.
It is necessary to address the phenomenon of energy poverty in connection with the setting of financial support - from the setting of its definition to the implementation of financial assistance.
International cooperation and sharing of good experiences
During the conference, several successful projects from abroad were given space (improving air quality in the Lesser Poland region, in Hungary, solving sustainable logistics in the Italian city of Lucca, activities of the city of Brno). In order to share experiences at national, regional and local levels in order to achieve good air quality and meet the requirements of European Union legislation as well as national legislation, it is necessary to continue and deepen international cooperation.
The event was organized by the Slovak Environment Agency in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic.
We thank all participants for their participation and feedback.
The conference program and individual presentations from the event are available at: https://populair.sk/sk/event/301
The recording of the individual blocks will be available on our YouTube channel in the near future.