Riga, the capital of Latvia, is located along the coast of the Gulf of Riga and at the mouth of the Daugava River. Officially founded in 1201, the City developed into one of the Baltic region’s major trade hubs as a member of the Hanseatic League before becoming part of the Swedish and then Russian Empires and then finally becoming Latvia’s capital in 1918. It is the largest city in Latvia, home to over a third of the country’s population. It is also the largest city in the Baltic States and one of the region’s major economic and financial centers.
Riga is a strong center of Latvian industry – over 50% of Latvian industry is stationed in the City. Food and furniture production are two of the city’s main industries.
Riga was one of the first capitals to sign the Covenant of Mayors in 2008. Through cooperating with other cities in the implementation of a number of energy efficiency projects, Riga has been able to introduce innovative, environmentally friendly technologies that add to the comfort of its citizens.
Under the new initiative of the European Commission on the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities, Riga has set the goal of achieving smart city status. Among Riga’s smart city initiatives is the “Riga Smart City Sustainable Energy Action Plan for 2014-2020” (SEAP). This Plan was developed and approved by City Council in light of its commitments as a signatory of the Covenant of Mayors. The SEAP outlines a plan to reduce Riga’s CO2 emissions by 60% compared to 1990 levels by 2020. Riga intends to achieve this goal through developing sustainable energy supplies and an emission-free transportation system, along with providing smart ICT for planning and implementing measures.
In 2010, Riga set the goal of reducing its carbon emissions by 20% by the year 2020. After far surpassing this target and reducing its emissions by over 50% before the end of 2011, Riga decided to set new, more ambitious goals in line with the city’s potential in the field of energy efficiency improvements and use of renewables. The Riga Smart City Sustainable Energy Action Plan 2014-2020 outlines a plan for Riga to reach smart city status by 2020 as a way to further its carbon emissions reduction goals.
Riga has implemented various international projects to assist in its low-carbon development goals. Among these projects are:
- Green IT Network Europe, which encourages the use of ICT as a way to lower carbon emissions;
- The Sustainable Urban Mobility (SUM) project, which promotes changes in transportation policy; and
- Strategies Towards Energy Performance and Urban Planning (STEP-UP), which focuses on municipal energy planning.
Goals: Riga is looking to learn from other project cities about practical methods that will help the City to adapt and accelerate its low-carbon initiatives. It also hopes to present its successes in a way that will allow other cities to replicate the process. After the second working meetin in November 2015, Riga expressed interest in learning more about the high-tech solar panels its partner city, Kitakyushu uses near its coast line. Riga would like to integrate these to support its district heating plants. Riga is also interested in connecting with City Managers of Kitakyushu to better understand integrating smart urban solutions into existing infrastructure.
In addition to the above mentioned public transportation advancements, the City of Riga develops infrastructures and programs to empower citizens of various ages to build a sustainable and active community. It has progressed with speed, notably with numerous city departments in improving smart mobility and introducing “e-services” for citizens. Riga is looking for practical solutions required to adapt and accelerate local government initiatives in order to achieve social and demographic sustainability targets. Riga has made numerous efforts to preserve its compact city center, especially its historic UNESCO World Heritage sites.