Discover the Vibrant and Diverse Culture of Riga: A Creative Epicentre of the Baltics


Robert Eduard Antal » Urban Innovation » Riga's Sustainable Urban Development Initiatives

Contributions and Roles of Member Cities in the Eurocities Network: Spotlight on Riga, Latvia

Innovation and Sustainability

Riga, like many other member cities of the Eurocities network, is committed to sustainability and innovation. The city has set ambitious goals to reduce CO2 emissions and promote the adoption of green technology. Through collaborative efforts, Riga aims to foster a sustainable urban environment for future generations.


  • Reduce CO2 emissions by adopting clean energy solutions.
  • Promote the use of electric vehicles and smart transportation systems.
  • Encourage the implementation of energy-efficient building practices.
  • Support renewable energy projects like solar and wind power.

Smart City Initiatives

Leveraging technology to improve urban life is at the core of Riga’s strategy. The city utilizes smart technologies to tackle urban challenges, enhance public services, and improve the quality of life for its residents.

Examples of Smart City Projects

  • Smart Water Management: Implementing systems to clean and monitor the city’s waterways.
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems: Using data analytics to optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion.
  • Healthcare Innovation: Enhancing healthcare services with telemedicine and digital health records.
  • Smart Waste Management: Deploying sensors to optimize waste collection routes.

Cultural and Social Projects

Riga engages actively in cultural and social projects aimed at fostering community spirit and supporting vulnerable groups. These projects emphasize the city’s rich cultural heritage while promoting social inclusion and cohesion.

Official City Website:

Examples of Cultural and Social Initiatives

  • Riga Culture Card: Offering residents access to cultural events at a discounted rate.
  • Social Support Programs: Providing assistance to elderly and low-income families.
  • Inclusive Festivals: Organizing events that celebrate diversity and inclusion.
  • Community Arts Projects: Encouraging local artists to participate in public art installations.

Urban Planning and Development

Significant urban development projects in Riga are focused on enhancing livability and addressing climate change. The city’s planning initiatives aim to create sustainable, resilient, and vibrant urban spaces.

Examples of Urban Development Projects

  • Green Boulevard Project: Transforming urban boulevards into green spaces with pedestrian-friendly areas.
  • Riga Waterfront Redevelopment: Revitalizing the waterfront with mixed-use developments, parks, and cultural spaces.
  • Climate-Resilient Housing: Developing housing projects that are energy-efficient and climate-resilient.
  • Public Transport Expansion: Extending the tram and bus networks to improve accessibility and reduce car reliance.

Youth and Education

Creating a vibrant environment for students and young professionals is a key priority for Riga. The city offers numerous programs and initiatives to support the education and development of its younger residents.

Examples of Youth and Education Initiatives

  • Startup Accelerator Programs: Supporting young entrepreneurs in launching their innovations.
  • Educational Workshops: Offering workshops on technology, science, and arts for students.
  • University Collaboration: Partnering with universities to provide internship opportunities and career development programs.
  • Youth Sports Leagues: Promoting active lifestyles through organized sports activities for young people.

Benefits of Participation in Eurocities

Participation in the Eurocities network brings numerous benefits to member cities like Riga. These benefits include access to a wealth of resources, the ability to share knowledge and best practices, collaboration opportunities on projects, and increased visibility on a European scale.

By being part of Eurocities, Riga can better address urban challenges, learn from the experiences of other cities, and contribute to shaping the future of urban living in Europe.

City Name: Riga


Riga is located in the northern part of Europe, on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. It is the capital and largest city of Latvia, situated at the mouth of the Daugava River. The city is well known for its historical significance and architectural beauty, surrounded by forests, lakes, and rivers, contributing to its picturesque landscape.


Riga has a population of approximately 632,614 residents, making it the largest city in Latvia. The city is known for its diverse demographic composition, with a significant number of ethnic Latvians, Russians, and other minority groups. The population density is around 2,200 per square kilometer.

Economic Overview

Riga is the economic powerhouse of Latvia, contributing significantly to the country’s GDP. Key industries include finance, IT, telecommunications, transit services, and manufacturing. The city’s port is one of the largest in the Baltic States, playing a crucial role in trade and logistics. In recent years, Riga has also become a hub for startups and innovation, particularly in the tech sector.

Historical Significance

Riga was founded in 1201 and has a rich historical background shaped by various cultures and regimes. It was a major center of the Hanseatic League during the medieval period. The city experienced significant growth and development during the Swedish and Russian Empires. In the 20th century, Riga faced occupation during both World Wars before Latvia regained its independence in 1991. Riga’s historical areas, including its Old Town and Art Nouveau architecture, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Cultural Attractions

Riga is a vibrant cultural hub with numerous attractions:

  • Riga Old Town: A UNESCO World Heritage site known for its cobbled streets, medieval buildings, and historic churches.
  • Latvian National Opera: Hosts world-class opera and ballet performances.
  • Art Nouveau District: Famous for its stunning architecture and intricate facades.
  • Riga Central Market: One of Europe’s largest markets, housed in old Zeppelin hangars.
  • Riga Cathedral: The largest medieval church in the Baltic states.
  • Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum: Showcases traditional Latvian life and culture.

Education System

Riga boasts a well-developed education system that includes:

  • Primary Education: Starts at age 7 and lasts for nine years.
  • Secondary Education: Includes general, vocational, and specialized schools.
  • Higher Education: Home to several universities and higher education institutions, such as the University of Latvia, Riga Technical University, and Riga Stradins University.

Transportation Infrastructure

Riga has an extensive transportation network:

  • Public Transit: Includes buses, trams, and trolleybuses, providing comprehensive coverage of the urban area.
  • Riga International Airport: The largest airport in the Baltic states, offering numerous international flights.
  • Railway Connections: Provides domestic and international rail services, linking Riga with other major cities.
  • Port of Riga: A major seaport facilitating trade and passenger ferry connections.

Urban Development Projects

Riga is engaged in various urban development projects aimed at enhancing sustainability and quality of life:

  • Riga Central Station Upgrade: Part of the Rail Baltica project, aimed at modernizing the city’s main railway station and enhancing connectivity.
  • New Tram Lines: Expanding the tram network to reduce traffic congestion and promote eco-friendly transportation.
  • Smart City Initiatives: Implementing smart technology in public services, traffic management, and energy use to improve efficiency and sustainability.

Environmental Initiatives

Riga is committed to environmental sustainability through various initiatives:

  • Green Public Transport: Increasing the use of electric buses and trams to reduce emissions.
  • Waste Management Programs: Promoting recycling and sustainable waste disposal practices.
  • Urban Green Spaces: Expanding parks and green areas to improve air quality and provide recreational spaces.
  • Community Gardens: Encouraging local food production and sustainable agriculture within the city.

Quality of Living

Riga offers a high quality of living, characterized by:

  • Healthcare: Access to both public and private healthcare facilities, offering high-quality medical services.
  • Safety: Generally considered a safe city with low crime rates.
  • Amenities: Abundant recreational, cultural, and shopping facilities contribute to a vibrant urban life.

Quality of Life Indexes

Riga scores well in various quality of life indexes:

  • Livability Rankings: Frequently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the Baltic region.
  • Health Indexes: Provides accessible and high-quality healthcare services.
  • Environmental Quality Scores: Continually improving through various sustainability initiatives and green projects.

Profile of Mayor Mārtiņš Staķis


Mārtiņš Staķis

Current Position:

Mayor of Riga, Latvia

Political Affiliation:

The political party “Movement For!” (Latvian: Kustība Par!)


  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga (SSE Riga)
  • Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Latvia

Professional Background:

Prior to becoming mayor, Mārtiņš Staķis had a diverse career that spanned both the public and private sectors.

  • Private Sector: Worked as a manager and later as an executive in various companies, focusing on business development and strategic planning.
  • Local Government: Served as a City Council member in Riga, participating in key committees related to urban development, finance, and community services.
  • Non-Governmental Organizations: Actively engaged with several NGOs on projects related to social welfare and environmental sustainability.

Achievements as Mayor:

As the mayor of Riga, Mārtiņš Staķis has implemented numerous initiatives aimed at improving the city’s livability, sustainability, and technological infrastructure.

  • Sustainability: Launched the “Green Riga” initiative, focusing on increasing green spaces, promoting electric vehicles, and improving waste management systems.
  • Urban Development: Spearheaded the “Smart City” project, integrating smart technologies into public services, transportation, and infrastructure management.
  • Technological Advancements: Established a tech innovation hub to foster entrepreneurship and support local startups in the field of information technology and green tech.

Vision for the Future:

Mārtiņš Staķis envisions Riga as a leading model of a smart, sustainable, and inclusive city. His plans for the future include:

  • Smart City Initiatives: Expanding the use of data analytics and IoT to improve city services and infrastructure efficiency.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 through renewable energy adoption, green building practices, and extensive public transport systems.
  • Community Engagement: Strengthening community engagement by fostering transparent governance and encouraging public participation in decision-making processes.

Personal Life:

Outside of his professional commitments, Mārtiņš Staķis enjoys various hobbies and interests, which include:

  • Hiking and outdoor activities, reflecting his commitment to environmental conservation.
  • Reading, particularly books on history, political theory, and innovation.
  • Volunteering with local community organizations focused on social welfare and youth mentorship.

Awards and Honors:

Mārtiņš Staķis has received several awards and recognitions for his leadership and contributions to the city of Riga:

  • European Green Capital Award (2025) for outstanding environmental practices and sustainability efforts.
  • The Riga Innovators Award (2023) for his significant contributions to the tech and innovation sector.
  • The Community Leadership Award (2022) from the Latvian Association of Local Governments for his inclusive governance and social initiatives.

Riga, Vidzeme, Latvia: Quality of Life and Cost of Living

Riga, the capital of Latvia, stands out for its affordable cost of living and high quality of life. As a member of the Eurocities network, Riga encapsulates the vibrancy and advancements of European urban living while remaining economically accessible. Here, we delve into the specifics of Riga’s quality of life and cost of living using data sourced from Numbeo.

Quality of Life


The safety index in Riga is a promising 53.89, indicating that the city is relatively safe. Residents and visitors report feeling secure in both day-to-day activities and during nighttime, though, like any urban area, caution is advised in less crowded areas.


Riga boasts a healthcare quality index of 63.46. The city’s healthcare system is well-regarded, providing excellent services, including numerous public and private hospitals, specialized clinics, and a wide range of medical professionals. Modern medical facilities and accessible healthcare services contribute to the overall well-being of the populace.


The pollution index stands at a moderate 38.39, reflecting Riga’s commitment to cleanliness and environmental protection. Efforts to reduce pollution through various green initiatives and sustainable urban planning are notable, contributing to overall public health and city livability.


With a transport index of 34.84, Riga features an efficient and well-organized public transportation system comprising buses, trams, and trolleybuses. Public transport is reliable, punctual, and covers most parts of the city, making commuting convenient and affordable.


Riga is home to some of Europe’s distinguished educational institutions, such as the University of Latvia. The city offers robust academic programs and research opportunities, contributing to a well-educated populace and adding to its appeal as a destination for both students and professionals.

Cost of Living


Housing in Riga is notably affordable compared to many European counterparts. The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center is about €474.54. This low housing cost makes Riga an attractive option for both single residents and families.

Groceries and Dining

Monthly grocery costs for a single person are estimated to be around €200. Dining out is also reasonably priced, with an average meal at an inexpensive restaurant costing approximately €10. This affordability in essential living expenses allows residents to enjoy a balanced lifestyle.


Utility services for an 85m2 apartment can cost around €159.10 per month. This includes electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage disposal, making it manageable within various budget ranges.


The cost of a monthly public transport pass is about €50. This reasonably priced pass provides unlimited access to the city’s extensive network of buses, trams, and trolleybuses, making it easy to move around the city efficiently.


For leisure activities, a monthly fitness club membership averages €36.96, while a cinema ticket costs around €7. These affordable entertainment options contribute to a rich and engaging social life.

Riga offers quality living at a comfortable price, balancing the perks of modern urban living with economic efficiency. With its emphasis on safety, healthcare, cleanliness, and accessible education, Riga continues to be a favorable choice for residents and expatriates alike. Numbeo data consistently underscores its stand as an economically attractive city within the Eurocities network.

Vote and Share:

Let Your Voice Be Heard:

Which City Wins Your Heart for Innovation & Sustainability?

Join's symbolic poll for Eurocities Awards 2024.

At, we're not just spectators; we're active participants in shaping the future of urban innovation.

Dive into our unofficial polls and cast your vote for the city projects that inspire you the most.

Whether it's groundbreaking sustainability initiatives, cutting-edge technology, or transformative community programs, your opinion matters!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Innovative Ecosystems: Attracting & Retaining Talent
Sustainable Food Systems: Empowering Communities
Creative Election Campaigns: Mobilising Citizens

Join the Community
Stay Ahead with Urban Innovations!

Get exclusive insights into Eurocities Awards 2024
by subscribing to our newsletter!

From detailed event schedules to live updates and exclusive insights into pioneering urban projects, we've got you covered.

Experience the inspiration from nominated cities leading the charge in innovation and sustainability.

Join our community today and be a part of the movement that’s shaping the future of our urban landscapes. Don’t miss this chance to connect with urban innovation – subscribe now!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.