Pioneer in Focus: Panevėžys, Lithuania - From River to Sea
Panevėžys Municipality in Lithuania participated in the Baltic Sea City Accelerator. We take a deep dive to learn about the city, its Blue Vision and their work in the Accelerator programme. This article was originally published in our Baltic Sea City Accelerator magazine.
An Inland City Helping the Baltic Sea
Panevėžys is the fifth largest city in Lithuania and is 240 km from the Baltic Sea. The city is situated in Northern Lithuania and has good connections to other Baltic capitals Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki. Panevėžys, which means the ‘the city on the river Nevėžis’, lies on the banks of the river Nevėžis, the sixth longest river in Lithuania. The river stretches 17 kms and feeds into the Baltic Sea. Panevėžys is considered to be a clean, green city, and it is working towards combining “blue” water initiatives with green strategies.
Business Opportunities with Clean Water
The importance of a clean river and eco-system is invaluable to Panevėžys. Tourism and foreign investors (i.e. companies with headquarters in Northern Europe that have established themselves in Panevėžys), as well as local investors are key groups in the municipality that are impacted by the quality of the water.
Foreign companies with operations in Panevėžys had a turnover of approximately 812 million EUR in 2015. If the quality of the river were to decrease - and/or the municipality was not seen as working on “sustainability” - it is possible that the foreign companies would seek to establish themselves in other cities and reduce their investment, thus leading to a potential decline of investment by 10 %. Such a scenario could also put the opportunity for job growth at risk. This is a critical issue for Panevėžys due to a combination of an aging population and young people moving away for better opportunities.
Tourism could be one of the future key growth sectors for Panevėžys, generating an income of 15 million EUR in 2015. Good water quality - especially that of the River Nevėžis - is critical to to this industry as the river bisects the city and a number of hotels and tourist attractions are located on the river’s banks, and a number of popular events take place there as well.
Panevėžys Blue Mission
"Panevėžys places a healthy environment and water at the centre of their sustainable urban development strategy."
Moving Forwards Towards 2025
By 2025, Panevėžys will focus on a healthy environment and a water-centric, sustainable urban development strategy. To achieve this mission, Panevėžys is focusing on the key areas of stormwater, wastewater, and regeneration of the main river.
These activities include:
Storm water: renovation and repair of 3,5 km of old storm water networks and 14 km of stormwater networks developed by 2017-2019. This is a €4.1 million project to be carried out by the Joint Stock company Panevėžio gatvės with funding from the EU.
Wastewater: Drinking water supply, wastewater management infrastructure, and sewage and water supply networks reconstruction in Panevezys by 2017-2020. From this investment the amount of nutrients leaking into the River Nevėžis will decrease (total nitrogen 3363,36 kg/per year, total phosphorus –867,96 kg/per year)
Cleaning of the Nevėžis River and developing recreational zones on and near river banks by 2019-2021