An educational visit to Poland
Ukrainian ecological NGOs heard much about the successful actions of their Polish counterparts in their development and their influence on the construction of the civil society in the country. It was very interesting to see with ones own eyes the details of these processes in Poland, the details of the participation of the public in taking important state decisions. Now Poland is being prepared to join the European Community, so their work seemed to have some interesting peculiarities.
A group of representatives of Ukrainian ecological NGOs was given an opportunity to visit Poland for studying the methods of their colleagues on the invitation of the ecological NGO Polish Green Network. Partly this visit was sponsored by the Dutch organization Milieukontakt Oost Europa. At the end of June nine leaders of Ukrainian ecological organization left for Poland, and during a week they visited four towns and met about a score of representatives of various organizations and several state officials.
At the start of our visit we were shown a tourist agricultural farm under Warsaw. Many similar farms have recently appeared in Poland. The state supports this movement and grants discounted credits. This is a very interesting branch of development of the agricultural sector. At this farm we met representatives of the civil Institute of ecology. This is a non-government, non-profit, scientific establishment that was created with the purpose of servicing public organizations, journalists, students, etc. (E-mail: mailto:[email protected], http://www.most.org.pl/bwle). This institute took part in the creation of the Green Network it has a large video-library; it develops projects of energy conservation, of solution transport problems and problems of garbage utilization; it implements alternative ecological-educational programs.
The next meeting was the head of the Ecological control center. Its main goals are getting and spreading the needed information and lobbying the needed decisions. In Ukraine there is no similar organization.
In Warsaw we got acquainted with the work of the Ecodevelopment Institute. The main task of this organization is to promote the ecological development of the society. The institute develops regional ecological programs, ecological tourism and agriculture. The institute adapts the national and international legislation concerning ecology, develops recommendations on the cooperation of NGOs and the state organs for solving concrete ecological problems, monitors and analyzes sociological information. This institute has created the program Green lungs of Europe.
In Wroclaw we met the head of the regional department of environmental protection. We learned that ecological taxes in Poland are not directed to the state budget, they are given to special local funds. The taxes for the waste (including domestic) are sent to the same funds. Ukrainian ecological organizations struggle for this for a long time. In this region they have an instructive experience of cooperation with public organizations. Ecological funds are supervised by councils consisting of scientists and representatives of the administration, NGOs and business. It is stipulated by law.
In Wroclaw we also visited the NGO Ecology development center. It has a wide range of interests: from ecological education and promoting bicycles to organizing campaigns for the correct garbage utilization.
The contacts with representatives of Ecological right center were very instructive. The center carries out legislation work, trains NGOs, consults and defends various subjects of law. Their activities are rather similar to those of the Ukrainian network Eco-Pravo (Ecological right).
In Krakow we attended Center of ecological education. The center develops ecological curricula and publishes various ecological literature.
The last town we visited was Lublin. Our hosts there were the NGO For nature and man, the same organization that invited us to visit Poland. This organization enters Polish Green Network. The informational bureau of the organization publishes the ecological magazine Oykos.
Our general impression is that Poland made a considerable advance in the development of economics and the civil society. Our journey was very instructive. We have established useful contacts, we got propositions of further cooperation and ideas of new projects.