Slovak Republic

This country profile features selected environmental indicators from the OECD Core Set, building on harmonised datasets available on OECD Data Explorer. The indicators reflect major environmental issues, including climate, air quality, freshwater resources, waste and the circular economy, and biodiversity. Differences with national data sources can occur due to delays in data treatment and publication, or due to different national definitions and measurement methods. The OECD is working with countries and other international organisations to further improve the indicators and the underlying data. A large part of the text of this country profile is drawn from the OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Slovak Republic 2024.

The Slovak Republic is a land‐locked Central European country where population and economic activity are heavily concentrated in the Bratislava and Western Slovakia regions. Regional economic disparities remain high, with the Eastern part lagging the rest of the country. The economy is small, open and strongly integrated into the EU market. Heavily dependent on industrial exports (particularly cars), it is highly exposed to external shocks. After a deep contraction during the COVID-19 crisis, the economy rebounded in 2021 and has grown moderately since.

Slovakia spans two biogeographic regions: the Carpathian Mountains and the Pannonian Lowlands, allowing for a rich diversity of flora and fauna and a diversified landscape. Renewable natural resources are abundant. The predominant ecosystems are forests, cultivated land and grasslands. Except for magnesite and construction materials, domestic geological reserves are limited. The country depends largely on imports for fossil fuels and metals, as well as for most raw materials.

Slovakia is a unitary State composed of 8 regions and 2 890 municipalities. Environment-related responsibilities are fragmented. The Ministry of Environment develops and implements environmental policies through its specialised agencies. The Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development are responsible for energy policy and forestry, respectively.

Slovakia met its obligations under the first and second period of the Kyoto Protocol. Its emissions decreased at the same rate (-20%) as in the European Union over 2010-20, though they rebounded faster in 2021, after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. The country also achieved its 2020 target for emissions not covered by the EU ETS (Emissions Trading System).

However, national projections (as of October 2023) indicate the country is not on a net-zero pathway. Most of the emission reductions by 2030 are expected to come from energy industries (with increased nuclear energy production) and to a lesser extent from industrial processes. GHG emissions in non-ETS sectors, especially transport, are projected to increase over 2020-30, while net carbon removals are expected to decline.

Although predominant, fossil fuels represent a smaller share of Slovakia's energy supply than the OECD average due to the importance of nuclear energy. Over the past decade, the energy mix has shifted progressively from coal to renewables (mainly biofuels and waste), which still account for a moderate percentage of supply. Slovakia has committed to phase out coal mining and coal-fired power generation by 2023.

Despite improvements in energy efficiency and economic restructuring, the Slovak economy is 40% more energy intensive than the OECD Europe average, due to its larger industrial base. Since 2014, energy consumption has risen steadily, except during the COVID-19 crisis, reaching in 2021 a level equivalent to 2010.

After strong reductions in the previous decade due to industrial restructuring, fuel switching, stricter legislations and the implementation of abatement technologies, the decline in emissions has slowed since the mid-2010s. Slovakia met its 2020-29 emission reduction commitments under the NEC (National Emission Ceiling) Directive and is on track to meet its 2030 targets, only with additional measures for ammonia emissions. Improved manure management reduced ammonia emissions, but growth in inorganic nitrogen fertiliser use has increased emissions over 2011-18.

While the average annual population exposure to PM2.5 has been declining since 2000, it remains above the new guideline value of 5 µg/m3 recommended by the World Health Organization and among the highest in OECD Europe. The Central Slovak region is the most exposed and Bratislava the least. Solid fuel combustion for domestic heating, road transport and metal production are the main sources of particulate matter pollution (SHMU, 2021).

Slovakia enjoys abundant freshwater resources and generally experiences low water stress. Nevertheless, climate change puts the southwest region, including the biggest sources of drinking water in Central Europe, at severe risk of drought. Freshwater abstractions have remained broadly stable in the past decade. Abstractions per capita are among the lowest in the OECD, and only 1% of renewable freshwater resources are abstracted annually against 10% in OECD Europe.

Population connected to public wastewater treatment plant increased from less than 60% in 2010 to more than 70% in 2021. This rate is one of the lowest in the OECD and is even lower in small municipalities. In 2018, 93% of urban wastewater (load generated) was treated according to requirements of the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, above the EU average of 82%. However, only a small share of the population benefits from tertiary (advanced) treatment. Slovakia will face challenges in complying with more stringent requirements due to the large share of the population living in small municipalities and the expected population decline, which will affect the revenues from utilities and investment planning.

With almost 500 kg of municipal waste generated per capita in 2021, Slovakia was slightly below the OECD Europe average. Although separate collection has improved in the past decade, municipal waste generation increased faster than GDP, and much of this waste still ends up in landfills. Data quality issues call into question apparent progress in recycling (EC, 2023).

Domestic material consumption (DMC) and material footprint per capita are below the OECD respective averages. DMC fell between 2010 and 2021, improving material productivity of the economy.

With about 40% of its territory covered by forests, Slovakia is among the most forested countries in Europe. Infrastructure development is the predominant driver of land-use change and has come largely at the expense of agri-ecosystems. Built-up areas in the Slovak Republic have been growing, and as a share of total land are higher than the EU and the OECD averages.

Slovakia is home to about 11 300 plant and 28 800 animal species. Approximately 28% (66) of the habitat types and 425 species protected under EU law are found in Slovakia.

The conservation status of most habitats and species is unfavourable. Approximately 60% of habitats and 75% of species of European interest are in a poor or bad state (EEA, 2021). The share of habitats with an unfavourable conservation status is lower than the EU average, while the share of species with an unfavourable status is higher.

Numerous plant and animal species are threatened with extinction. According to the Red List, almost one quarter of Slovakia’s vertebrates are threatened, including 44% of amphibians, 42% of reptiles and 24% of birds. Approximately 7% of the country’s known invertebrate species face extinction.

The main pressures on biodiversity include unsustainable agricultural practices, invasive alien and other problematic species, forestry (e.g. high volume of incidental logging in some forest areas), infrastructure development, which contributes to habitat fragmentation and soil sealing, and natural processes such as erosion and secondary succession.

Slovakia has an extensive protected area network. With over 37% of its territory designated for protection, it has exceeded the 2020 target for protected area coverage of 17% (Aichi Target 11) and the 2030 target of 30% under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (Target 3). Slovakia’s protected area coverage is significantly higher than the OECD average. However, its network is not functioning optimally, with a complex system of different types, often low level of protection. Management plans are also lacking for most protected areas or are not implemented effectively due to lack of capacity.

References and further reading

EC (2023), The early warning report for Slovakia, Commission staff working document SWD(2018) 424 final, European Commission, Brussels, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52018SC0424.

EEA (2023), Member States' greenhouse gas (GHG) emission projections (accessed 24 October 2023).

EEA (2021), Conservation status of habitat types and species: Datasets from Article 17, Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC reporting

MoE/SEA (2023), State of the Environment Report of the Slovak Republic 2021, Ministry of Environment of Slovak Republic/Slovak Environment Agency, https://www.enviroportal.sk/spravy/detail/11741. An updated version is available in Slovak only (https://www.sazp.sk/novinky/envirorezort-vydal-jubilejnu-30-spravu-o-stave-zivotneho-prostredia released on 14/12/2023)

OECD (2024), OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Slovak Republic 2024, OECD Environmental Performance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/108238e8-en.

SHMU (2021), A brief overview of the development of PM10 air pollution from 2005 to 2020, Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute, Bratislava, https://www.shmu.sk/File/Infridgement_podklady_fin4opr.pdf.

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