GNF - Partner Region Hungary
Hungary – Lake Balaton
With a surface area of 594 sq. km Lake Balaton is among the largest freshwater bodies in Central Europe. Lake Balaton is a shallow lake - its average depth is 3.2 m. As a result of continued efforts in environmental protection and nature conservation a rich species diversity has been preserved. A large number of rare and protected plant species can be found in the area, as well as strictly protected and rare animal species. There are 41 indigenous species of fish living in Lake Balaton and its tributaries.

Seasonally, the whole lake area is under the protection of the Ramsar Convention. Some 250 bird species can be found there, of which 27 are strictly protected. Lake Balaton is a highly frequented international tourist destination with 8 to 10 million registered guest nights annually. Walk-paths, educational trails and exhibitions enable visitors to discover the rich biodiversity of the area. Tourism and the related services exert considerable stress on the rather sensitive ecosystem and the infrastructure as well.

Problems of anthropogenic origin include eutrophication and other water quality issues, introduction of foreign, potentially invasive species, loss of natural habitat in the littoral zone due to concrete shore protection measures, erosion and soil contamination in the watershed.


Association of Civil Organisations of Lake Balaton and the Lake Balaton Development Coordination Agency (Living Lakes partner organisations): The association represents the interests of the civil groups (NGOs) operating in the Lake Balaton region. More than 10,000 volunteers are active in 24 civil groups. Their goal is to stop and reverse the deterioration of the Lake Balaton environment, to protect the remaining natural shores and preserve the natural flora and fauna of the lake and its vicinity.

Activities and model projects

The objective of the project at Lake Balaton is to establish a sustainable land use planning and an urban development at local level. The surroundings of Lake Balaton are densely populated. On the basis of the positive experiences of the ECOLUP-Project of Lake Constance Foundation and the objectives of the new EU-Directive on Sustainable Urban Management (in planning), a management system for sustainable urban development at communal level will be elaborated and implemented.

Siófok and Balatonfüred are the partner municipalities. The Lake Balaton Development Agency will coordinate the two municipalities and their activities to implement a Sustainable Urban Management System (UMS). Their responsibilities will consist of regional/national dissemination, organization of local workshops, monitoring of local progress of work and review of local documents.


Pilot activities in this strategy comprise

  • Creation of an environmental team in each municipality with representatives of all relevant departments within the municipalities´ administration, regional administrations, private stakeholders (economy, institutions, associations).
  • Elaboration of the following UMS elements: SWOT-Analysis of the current situation, guidelines and objectives for the development of the municipality, environmental programme with concrete measures, monitoring system, necessary organisational elements to implement the management system. Environmental aspects taken into account: land use /sealing, water energy, transport/mobility, waste, nature and landscape. Special focus will be on the improvement of the participation and integration of other initiatives such as Agenda 21.
  • The objective of the model project: approval of guidelines, environmental programme and management structure by the municipality council. Motivate municipalities to go for an official UMS certification (EMAS or ISO 14.001).


  • SWOT-Analysis of current environmental/sustainability situation in two municipalities at Lake Balaton: October 2005 – March 2006
  • Guidelines for municipality development: May 2006
  • Creation of a team in municipalities: March 2006 - May 2006
  • Elaboration of SUM-Programme with concrete Action Plan within local workshops: March 2006 – October 2006
  • Approval of SUM Guidelines and Programme by municipality council: December 2006
  • Implementation of first measures of SUM-Programme: January 2006 – September 2007
  • Information and dissemination of results at regional and national level: continuously
  • Documentation of SUM process: continuously