Chemicals are all around us, from natural chemicals in food to industrially produced ones, distributed by trade and by long-range transport of pollutants, found in working surrounding, environment and consumers’ products. They may ease our everyday life but at the same time cause allergies, have effects on the reproductive system or show carcinogenic, teratogenic or chronic toxic effects. Therefore the management of chemicals risks is one of the high priority issues on European and international levels. A large number of European directives as well as international agreements are available as tools for the reduction of risks posed by chemicals. This is inevitably a complex field demanding great resources as well as very good cooperation from public institutions and the industry. Especially industrial companies are a potential source of environmental problems and rather often it needs good convincing skills that environmental costs should not externalised and that win-win solutions are possible. Apart from that, it is of course indispensable that binding legal standards on national and international level are met by the companies. Continuous awareness and knowledge raising, know-how exchange, capacity building and initiating a dialogue between state authorities, the industry, trade and consumers is one of the priority issues within the BEF. Workshops, meetings and trainings contribute to our aim of minimizing the environmental burden posed by chemicals and industrial pollutants.
Projects on nature conservation have a long tradition and are an important constituent of the work of the BEF Group. Amongst others, BEF implemented projects on the conservation of boreal forest, on protection of endangered species or on projecting the Baltic Sea . A focus of our work are aspects of nature conservation and society, as well as communication of nature conservation issues.
Sustainable mobility patterns will be of higher importance in the coming years. On the one hand, the transport sector is a significant cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and our mobility needs and the increasing commodity flows cause an enormous demand for energy on the other hand. At the moment, this demand is primarily satisfied from limited resources. These problems must be overcome by developing appropriate technical solutions and putting them into practice. Efficient technologies can be only the end of the chain. A good planning, a durable adaptation of individual mobility patterns and suitable economic and political instruments are central elements for a sustainable mobility.
Water and water management are traditional topics of the BEF Group, especially with regard to the water framework directive and river basin management aspects.
Waste management issues have been a priority for co-operation and experience exchange among the environmental authorities of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since the beginning of the 1990s. Through the activities of the Baltic Environmental Forum, regular information exchange and on-going learning has been fostered regarding the development of efficient waste management systems.The BEF has followed the work of the Ministries of Environment of the three Baltic States, which started from zero: building up a legislative framework for waste handling, creating institutions and defining responsibilities, developing waste management strategies, setting targets for single waste streams and, at the same time, defining measures for the continuous improvement of the system.
BEF Estonia is active in the fields of energy and climate change since 2003. In the past years we have predominantly carried out projects dealing with energy efficiency in the building sector. The building sector offers substantial saving potentials through better insulation, more efficient technologies and changed consumption behaviour of the inhabitants.