Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Latvian Chair and Vice-Chair

Evija Šmite

Chair of HELCOM 2022-2024

Deputy Director General and the Director of Fisheries Control Department, State Environmental Service of Latvia

Since 1997 Evija Šmite works in public administration of Latvia regarding marine environment protection and fisheries control. As a Deputy Director General and Director of Fisheries Control Department of State Environmental Service since 2013, Ms. Šmite is responsible for strategic planning, supervision and methodological guidance of marine pollution and fisheries control in Latvia, implementation of sea pollution prevention regulations, participation in HELCOM Response and Maritime groups, response to marine pollution incidents in cooperation with the Latvian Navy`s Coast Guard as well as managing projects of European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and other EU’s funds.

Ms. Šmite has obtained a Master’s degree in Biology from the University of Latvia specializing in marine biology. Her research topics were related on increasing of efficiency of phytoplankton pigment monitoring in the Gulf of Riga and ecotoxicological testing of sediments of the Baltic Sea.

From 2002 to 2003 as a fellow of Hubert H. Humphrey programme, Ms. Šmite participated in one-year program of graduate study and professional development in Cornell University, USA, where studied environmental policy, governance and management, as well as was a trainee in Dredging and Sediment Management Team in Environmental Protection Agency of the USA, Region 9 in San Francisco. Ms Šmite has also participated in training at the Uppsala University, Erken Laboratory, Sweden on water management and Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and Danish Energy Agency on upstream petroleum exploration and resource management.

Ms. Šmite has been a lecturer at the University of Latvia for 10 years and a supervisor of the master’s thesis at the Latvian Maritime Academy.

llona Mendziņa

Vice-Chair of HELCOM 2022-2024

Deputy Director of the Nature Protection Department, Ministry of the Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia

Ms. Ilona Mendziņa works in the Ministry of the Environmental Protection and Regional Development since the establishment of the Ministry in the 1993. Since 2000, Ms. Mendziņa acts as the Deputy Director of the Nature Conservation Department. One of the main responsibilities of Ms. Mendziņa is the strategic development of the nature conservation policy, therefore Ms. Mendziņa has extensive experience with the different aspects of the EU Nature and Biodiversity policy (Birds and Habitats Directives, EU Biodiversity Strategy), as well as LIFE programme and EU Structural funds.

Ms. Mendziņa has worked extensively with the assessment of financing needs and the development of support mechanisms for financing nature management, including the establishment of the national co-financing mechanism for LIFE projects and securing funding for it.

During the Latvian Presidency to the European Council, Ms. Mendziņa chaired the working party on the international environmental issues in the field of biodiversity. In this position Ms. Mendziņa was responsible for negotiating the position of the EU Member states for the Meeting of the Parties of the International Platform of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services as well as Conference of the Parties of the Ramsar Convention.

Ms. Mendziņa has a Master’s degree in the Environmental Science from the University of Latvia. Her studies focused on to the development of the environmental policy planning and implementation in Latvia.