This third Environmental Performance Review of Hungary shows that significant progress has been made in decoupling growth from environmental pressures. Hungary, the first EU member state to ratify the Paris Agreement, has shown its commitment to developing a low-carbon economy. Since 1990, its total gross greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 35% and regulatory frameworks have been strengthened.

However, its energy supply remains largely dependent on fossil fuels and frequent institutional changes and capacity constraints impede more effective implementation of environmental law. To achieve long-term climate-related targets, Hungary needs to improve the energy efficiency of its buildings, further develop renewable energy resources and promote sustainable transport. Air pollution, especially fine particulate matter, is a serious health concern, while surface water quality remains poor despite large-scale investments in wastewater treatment infrastructure.

The review looks in detail at waste management and biodiversity protection. While Hungary has made progress in waste recycling and recovery, more than half of the country’s waste is deposited in landfills, a higher proportion than its EU neighbours. Despite efforts to improve resource efficiency, sustainable material management has not yet been integrated into sectoral policies. A whole-of-government approach is needed to facilitate Hungary’s transition to a circular economy.

Protecting Hungarian biodiversity, which includes the largest continuous natural grassland in Europe, is also key. Hungary has a well-developed network of protected areas covering over 22% of its territory, exceeding the respective international target. However, their management requires increased public budget support to maintain biodiversity conservation priorities. The country has made progress in integrating biodiversity considerations into policy making for agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, but more efforts are needed to mainstream biodiversity protection into energy, transportation, tourism and industry strategies.

This review is the result of extensive policy dialogue between Hungary and the other members and observers of the OECD Working Party on Environmental Performance. It presents 36 recommendations to help Hungary to advance towards a greener, low-carbon economy, to better manage its natural assets and to improve its environmental governance and management.

I am confident that this collaborative effort will support Hungary as it continues to design, deliver and implement better environmental policies for better lives.


Angel Gurría

Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)