Latvian NGO “Green Liberty” – let’s get our hands dirty”!

  • 2023-07-29

"We’re simply green anarchists!” This was one of the first phrases I heard from my then-brand-new colleagues that I met on my first day at the Latvian NGO “Green Liberty” (lat: Zaļā Brīvība). Openness, true friendliness and deep care for the environment – to me, working together with these free-spirited people was like a breath of fresh air. Nowadays it is a rare sight to see people who are truly passionate about their job and mission (alas, sometimes they do have dark rings under their eyes). Fundamentally, being self-titled “anarchists” does not imply that we are (always) working against the system or people – for us, it is quite the opposite. We are working from within by having a conversation with society and the government. We strive for a world that is equitable and truly sustainable, without all the greenwashing.

This year, our NGO is celebrating its 30th anniversary and takes pride as the oldest environmental organization in Latvia. Throughout the years, our society has changed and developed to such a scale that was probably not thought of back in 1993. At the start, it was just three people who got together – now we are more than 25! Back then, even the abbreviation ‘GL’ stood for something else - i.e. the “Green Library” - that was a part of the Environmental Protection Club. While the green library concept is still active, over the years the scope of our work has expanded and matured. Living in accordance with nature has always been the overarching theme for “Green Liberty”, and now, with the ever-increasing human pressures on the biosphere and climate change, our interests and expertise have proliferated to multiple dimensions – climate change and the energy sector, a sustainable lifestyle, circularity, waste and global justice.

Decarbonization of the energy system and resources is the primary driver of our activities and projects. This is so because, in the last years, human pressures on the environment and climate have accelerated the climate break-down more than ever before. In fact, the current climate change is happening more rapidly than dated in the last 10,000 years. According to the World Economic Forum's 2020 Global Risks study, climate change is one of the five most significant global risks that will affect the world economy and sustainability. Climate change is not something you can easily hide from – it is apparent even in our moderate Baltic climate. For example, national experts link the particularly dangerous January 2023 winter flooding of the Daugava River to climate change. Due to safety concerns, during the flood, people from the cities of Jekabpils and Pļaviņas had to be displaced from their homes. Economic sectors of great importance, such as agriculture and forestry, are also exposed to climate-related risks. Long periods of drought, heat waves, flash floods and nutrient leakage reduce ecosystem productivity and affect the national economy. 

We believe that society is an integral part of dealing with environmental issues. This is why we put great focus on citizen involvement – to put the charge in everyone’s hands. Over the years, we have created different workshops, events and interactive tools on tackling environmental problems. We have educated students and active citizens on how to join the decision-making process and helped to create a network of other green-thinking organizations in Latvia. We have also taken a stronger stance through protests and litigation for our constitutional rights. All these projects have come through the enthusiasm of the people who are involved in “Green Liberty”, with the help of the government, the European Union and the active citizens around us. 

While there has been a lot of progress in improving our environment (yeah for the deposit packaging system that was finally released after 20 years of work and the freshly-appointed Ministry of Climate and Energy), there is still lots of work to be done. We believe that the best way to tackle the climate crisis, poverty and pollution is not only through a top-down approach, but through one where each one of us can “get their hands dirty”! 


Liene Krauja is Environmental Expert at Latvian NGO ‘Green Liberty’ 

[email protected] , +37127310189