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Circles of coastal sustainability and emerald growth perspectives for transitional waters under human stress

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Emerald Growth is an overarching sustainable development framework for transitional waters situated between rivers and open sea. The emphasis on connectivity and ecosystem-based management as the underlying principles differentiates Emerald Growth from conventional approaches to managing transitional waters. The study's primary objective was to conjoin the Emerald Growth concept with the Coastal Circles of Sustainability methodology, an analytical framework to assess indicators of critical processes determining the sustainability of the coastal zone. We hypothesized that applying the CCS is an apt approach to categorizing the Emerald Growth's aspects using Lake Liepaja, a fresh-to-brackish water lagoon on Latvia's Baltic Sea coast, as a case study. Based on the document scoping findings on Lake Liepaja's hydrology, ecology, biodiversity, nature conservation, and management, we addressed the knowledge gaps through the field survey, 4 workshops, and 18 in-depth semi-structured interviews with local stakeholders. The research results show that the challenging socio-economic situation is a crucial obstacle to Emerald Growth in the Lake Liepaja area. Subsistence salary and Housing affordability (Economic Welfare aspect), Population growth and Aging population (Demographic aspect), and Traditional practices (Identity aspect) received the lowest sustainability score (Bad). The results imply that considering the Emerald Growth conditions and drivers for transitional waters worldwide, finding a 'one-fits-all' recipe to ensure their sustainability is impossible. The decision-makers, stakeholders, and external experts agreed that for Lake Liepaja, the priority was to bring back to nature part of the polder system, clean the bottom sediments from Soviet-era pollutants, and enhance the transboundary cooperation with Lithuania. These measures would set the right conditions for future Emerald Growth in the area.



Baltic Sea Circles of coastal sustainability Coastal lagoons Emerald growth Transitional waters


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