Burgas is positioned on the Black Sea Coast, at the eastern border of the European Union. It is the fourth largest city and the fastest developing city in Bulgaria, and second in terms of economic potential after the capital city of Sofia. The City is an important industrial, cultural, and administrative center of the south-east region of Bulgaria. It also serves as an important commercial and transport hub, with an international airport that handles more than 2.5 million passengers annually and one of the biggest ports on the Black Sea Coast.
Burgas is located close to the largest complex of coastal lakes in Bulgaria. The total area of the lakes amounts to 95 km², of which 33 km² are declared or proposed protected areas. In addition to substantial natural resources such as fish, game, sea salt, and cure mud which are important to the local economy, the lakes are also known for their exceptional biodiversity.
Burgas’ plans for continued development are grounded in an understanding of balanced regional development that promotes economic, social and environmental sustainability. The City’s program for the protection of the environment states that the strategic objective of the Municipality is to improve citizens’ health and quality of life by providing a supportive environment, preserving local biodiversity, and ensuring sustainable management of the environment.
Burgas’ current plan for environmental preservation focuses on improvement of municipal waste management, restoration and conservation of biodiversity, shore protection and erosion control, and the introduction of a monitoring system for the environment sector.
Demographic processes in Burgas are characterized by a continuing decline and aging of the population – people aged 0-14 make up only 14% of the City’s population, and 36% of Burgas citizens are over the age of 50. In recognition of this demographic shift, Burgas has extensively outlined plans to better ensure the social welfare of its citizens.
Burgas is currently interested in regenerating and repurposing its old industrial zones and unused residential buildings in order to strengthen its City area and stop the process of expansion. Burgas is also interested in improving the service provided by its public transportation network and would like to look into the role “smart city” strategies and e-services can play in municipal development. Burgas looks forward to working with and learning from other project cities in these areas.
Burgas has undertaken a number of projects for the implementation of energy efficiency measures in public buildings. It is currently implementing a large-scale urban transport project – activities include the introduction of new low-emission buses and a Bus Rapid Transit route (BRT).
In addition to its municipal-level initiatives, Burgas is active in EU low-carbon initiatives. When it joined the Covenant of Mayors in 2009, the City committed to reducing CO2 emissions at least 20% by 2020; it reached this reduction goal within two years. Burgas became part of the Mayors Adapt initiative in 2014, and in 2015 Burgas signed the Green Digital Charter and became the first Southeastern European city to join the European Commission’s Eurocities network.
In 2011, Burgas developed and adopted the “Strategy for Sustainable Energy Development of the Municipality 2011 – 2020.” This strategy aims to improve institutional capacity, promote the use of best practices and innovative technologies, and support and encourage green private investment.
Burgas looks forward to sharing its successes and plans with other cities in the exchange.