April 12-13 2010
Polish-German workshops organized in Warsaw on April 12-13 2010 by the Ministry of the Environment were devoted to the policy of assistance development implemented in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.
An initiative of the Ministry's Department of International Cooperation, the workshops reflect Poland's growing engagement in efforts to bridge the gap in the quality of life in the developed countries and the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. The undertaking also highlights the significance of the natural environment for long-term social and economic development.
The workshops were organized in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and with the support of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event focused on ways of incorporating environment protection in development assistance and on the exchange of related experience.
At the inauguration of the workshops, Polish Environment Minister Andrzej Kraszewski said in part: "I am proud that today we are in a position to help others. We will do that, remembering that years ago others were helping us. Together with the German side we will be discussing issues of importance to the whole world, to climate policy and to development policy".
The workshop participants included representatives of the Ministry of the Environment, other government institutions and NGOs concerned with development cooperation.
Papers were delivered by Katarzyna Reiter, head of the Department of International Cooperation of the Environment Ministry, Antonia Schabel of the BMU Section for Cooperation with Countries of Eastern and Central Europe, Marek Ziółkowski, head of the Development Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Warnken, head of the BMU Division for the Environment and Sustainable Use of Resources and Rudolf Specht of the BMU Division for International Nature Conservation.
Experience in implementing aid projects in the field of environment protection was shared by representatives of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (Harald Lossack, Dirk Schäfer, Alexander Fröde) and of Polish NGOs (Robert Zduńczyk of the Poland-East Africa Economic Foundation; Arkadiusz Nowak of the Nature Conservation Association BIOS) as well as Piotr Zajączkowski of the Forestry Research Institute.
The first workshop was devoted to the relationship between development assistance policy and the protection of the natural environment, comparison of the Polish and German development assistance systems and to mechanisms of aid financing.
Development cooperation should seek to combine economic growth with improvement of the natural environment, taking into account social, economic and environmental factors in a given region. Unfortunately, the view that environment protection constrains economic growth is quite common. In reality, the natural environment is the basis for the functioning of man and whole societies and determines viable development strategies of the respective countries. Degradation of the environment, on the other hand, undermines long-term prospects of sustainable social and economic development and constitutes a threat to achievements in poverty reduction.
On the second day of the workshops, participants shared their experience in implementing aid projects in the area of environment protection, with particular reference to climate change, protection of bio-diversity and water management. It was agreed that the following factors influenced the effectiveness of such projects: support of the local authorities and the government of the recipient country, an enlightened and determined local leader who educates and engages the local community, a multi-annual system of aid financing, monitoring, And a tangible impact of projects on the economic and social situation of the local community. The German partners noted that Poland, due to its historic experience, could become a valuable donor of development aid for countries of the former Soviet Union.
The workshops were accompanied by a presentation of photos illustrating projects implemented in the framework of the Polish aid program, while Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit prepared a presentation on "The Impact of Climate Change on Development". An exhibition titled "Polish Assistance to the World" was arranged by the Development Cooperation Department of the MFA.