GB No. 4(23)/96
The sector with which we are dealing in our study has a long history in highly developed countries as well as in Poland. In individual countries the citizens have civil right to form organizations in order to solve in their opinion important problems. It is only the tradition of the country that has influence on the name of this organization, which can be: NGO, voluntary, independent, nonprofit or social. America created the name "Third Sector" to differentiate it from national institutions (1st sector), and those concentrating on profit - business (2nd sector). The name "4th sector" exists for the use of mass-media. These sectors interact with each other, in this study we will mainly deal with the relation between the first and the third sector.
The organizations belonging to the 3rd sector do not concentrate on making profit and are obliged to use their resources for the aims described in the statute. In return they do not have certain taxes and can accept deeds of gift. The existence of such organizations is essential in the act of forming a well-working society, which determines a stable, democratic country as in the United States of America. This results from the economic policies, which assumes that the market cannot cope properly with providing equal access to wares of collective consumption (clean air, public safety). The government is responsible for satisfying these needs but it mainly concentrates on the matters of the majority, so the needs of different minorities are left not dealt with. Another unfavorable element of the governments financial distribution is bureaucracy and operational costs. Here NGOs often step in, to satisfy the market and administrative needs.
In the 1990, the democratic changes in Poland enabled the creation of thousands of NGOs working in various areas of social life, which now form an important part of the third sector. What is important in our study is the emphasis on the fact that the social movements, including the ecological movement, are characterized by: spontaneity, disorder and anti - cultural activities. The existing organizations differ in the size, the inner structure, the amount of resources, access to information. They have different aims and prefer different courses of action. Such a situation reveals the strength of this sector and at the same time has a chance to adjust to a new challenge (locating social problems and attempting to solve them).
The tradition of nature protection in our country goes back to the beginning of the 19th century. Year 1928 marks the creation of the oldest, still active organization: Liga Ochrony Przyrody - LOP (The League for Nature Protection). Although the first independent pro-ecological environments started to rise in the 60's and 70's. However, only the increase in social activity after August 1980 resulted in the emergence of various social proenvironmental initiatives the members of which criticized severely the existing policy of the authorities. In the course of time new ecological initiative appeared. They evolved mainly among young people opposing the existing social and political order. Finally in the 80's, according to the authorities three groups of organizations came into being. The first one had a progovernmental structure (for example LOP - The League for Nature Protection, PZW, and Polish Ecological Social Movement within PRON). The second one was formed by organizations and movements without a clear status (PKE- The Polish Ecological Club, neither supported nor rejected by the authorities and the movement "Wolę Być" - "I'd Rather Be"). The last one included oppositional organizations (for example the movements "Wolność i Pokój" - "Freedom and Peace"). In these circumstances the Government as well as the national administration were willing to cooperate with the first or alternatively the second group and at the same time opposed the third one. Although after 1989 this division cease to exist, the experience, skills, habits, and context acquired by those organizations which influenced the environmental policy in the previous decade are still effective. Thus they are privileged in comparison movements and organizations created in the 90's. The administration feels safer cooperating with its "allies", but insecure cooperating with new radical organizations.
The present situation, in which NGOs are regarded rather as an opponent than as an important member in decision - making processes leeds to repetitive consequences as far as ecological policy is concerned. As a result its social costs increase while its efficiency goes down leading to the growth of frustration both among the social movements as well as among administration. This problem finally sets NGOs, which have at their disposal smaller financial potentials then the national sector and other groups supported business, aside.
Nowadays the ecological movement, according to various estimates, consists of several hundred formal and informal groups. It is estimated that there are about 700 active organizations. However, the most regular and well organized activities are conducted by many fewer, which are divided according to the geographic location, the character of the activities and their level.
Most organizations and ecological groups are classified as local and regional (it refers to the area of actual activities, as the status of each organization and foundation often applies to their activities all around Poland). Only three social ecological organizations have a well - working network of sectors and clubs in Poland. These are: LOP, PKE, Ogólnopolskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptaków (The Polish Society for the Protection of Birds), and Federacja Zielonych (The Green Federation). The following includes data regarding geographic locations of organizations, based on the best sources considering the Polish ecological movement, (P. Gliński - "Polscy Zieloni", Warszawa 1996). Most organizations (143) have their location in Warszawa, which is the consequence of the necessary foundation registering in the capital District Court. The Polish Capital is not the most active centre of proecological activities. The most developed region is that of Southern Poland, and the most significant regions are around: Kraków (in 1995 - 37 organizations), Lower Silesia (43), Upper Silesia (44), Bielsko-Biała (9), Opole (12), Krosno (8), and Przemyśl (7). In Northern Poland most organizations are located in Gdańsk Voivodeship (39) and along Wybrzeże Szczecińskie. In the area of the Green Lungs of Poland there are about 40 organizations (around Olsztyn - 13, Białystok - 12, Suwałki - 12), and in the area around Bydgoszcz and Toruń - 29 organizations. The movement in Wielkopolska consists of 41 groups, in Kalisz Voivodeship - 11, and in Ziemia Lubuska also 11. In Eastern Europe most organizations are located in Lubelszczyzna (24) and in Central Poland in Łódź Voivodeship (20). The centres with the highest number of NGO's can also be found in Słupsk Voivodeship (7) and Kielce Voivodeship (7). In the remaining Polish Voivodeships both the number of organizations and their activities is very low. The least active include: Konin, Sieradz, Siedlce, Chełm, Tarnów, Biała Podlaska.
Glinski assumes that there are 3 reasons for differentiating the NGO's activities in Poland:
These elements seem to have played the most significant role in varying NGO's. However, the most powerful NGO's have their residence in large cities with the population over 500 thousand.
These organizations differ significantly in respect of their integration with the ecological movement. It is becoming common that such organizations are created by groups specializing in conducting ecological campaigns on the national scale, such as: Fundacja Wspierania Inicjatyw Ekologicznych (The Foundation for Ecological Initiatives), Ogólnopolskie Towarzystwo Zagospodarowania Odpadów (The National Society for Waste Management), Międzyuczelniane Lobby Ekologiczne (The Interacademic Ecological Lobby). This refers both to knowledge issues and organizational problems.
The most typical channels popularizing these qualities were the youth environments connected with music sub - culture, especially with Reggae. This is a more anarchic part of the ecological movement. Most organizations act within this program. Apart from "direct" actions and picketing more and more often successful campaigns employing mass media and politicians are conducted. A very strong influence on publication exerted by a group of people cooperating with the television foundation "Animals".
Quite recently there has been noted a growing division into organizations cooperating and those not cooperating with the government. It is closely based on the character of the activities and their style. Some organizations in their campaigns and projects puts an emphasis on mistakes made by the government (recently the forestry in the area of Puszcza Białowieska) or opposes them (project for motorway construction is strongly criticized by the opponents of the current governmental policy of transport). Similar conflicts can be perceived on the local scale (the creation and the extension of national parks and building bicycle tracts).
There are also organizations which are not non-governmental though they often claim so, obscuring and complicating their financial situation in the third sector. In the Western Countries there exist the so-called DONGOs (donor organized non-governmental organizations) founded by the government, as well as BONGOs (Business organized non-governmental organizations), controlled by business. Beside there exist the so-called QUANGOs (quasi autonomous non-governmental organizations), fully sponsored by the government, but with independent activities (cultural institutes).
Some ecological organizations in Poland are undergoing the process of specialization. So far it has been observed that in the course of development the needs of organizations as well as the financial structure of their activities are changing. In Poland there are 4 phases of ecological organization's development owing to the budget structure and the effectiveness of activities (as all classifications, this one is also simplified - some organizations can stop at the beginning or be developing for a few years, others, for various reasons, will never reach the 3rd and 4th stages). In several years, time will not be so important. However, taking into consideration the fact that most of the active NGOs in Poland appeared after 1988, this division is rightly justified:
Since the year 1989 there have been gradual, remarkable quality changes in the movement - the development and specialization. The undertaken actions are the result of rational strategies. Protests and demonstrations are completed by alternative solutions or even substituted by positive actions. Attempts are made to coordinate the undertakings of specific organizations and to specialize their activities, to build the information and communication networks (the creation of The Polish Green Network of Environmental Information Offices, the annual National Meetings of the Ecological Movement in Kolumna), and to employ in the organization, permanent professional workers. The members of the movement are trained to design campains and ecological projects and to manage ecological organizations. The training sessions aim at acquiring knowledge about local codes and cooperation with national agendas, municipalities and mass-media.
It was not easy for the members of the movement to communicate with other sectors, especially with the national sector, which required finding common grounds without prejudices and stereotypes. The contract between the ecological movement and the government is limited to two sectors, such as: ecological education, informal contacts and consultations, and the attempts to influence the prepared projects of law. Like wise contacts with parliamentary institutions which were made after the political changes of 1989 are fairly limited. The most advanced cooperation can be viewed in Wrocław and Bielsko-Biała. Contacts between local municipalities and the administration are very unstable. There are still very few examples of a direct help for the movement with the exception of Kraków, Łódź and Bielsko-Biała. More and more contacts are made with educational centres, universities and politechnics, science institutes and national parks. There are very limited contacts with other NGO's in Poland. Some ecological groups take part in various integrative agreements with the third sector, such as Forum Fundacji Polskich (The Polish Foundation Forum) or Regionalne Fora Inicjatyw Pozarządowych (The Regional Forums of Non-govermental Initiatives).
1.1 The most important organizational structures of the ecological movement
It should be stressed that the discription of the structures in the ecological movement does not apply to all organizations, which will never serve such purposes. Social movements are characterized by a lower level of organization in comparison to pressure groups and parties. Some organizations aim at finding solutions to specific local, regional and national problems and may be at one point resolved. Such groups will not be interested in being part of any structures. Only organizations with long-term strategic aims will colaborate with such structures. This does not mean that goups created to achieve either short or medium-term aims should be treated less seriously. These are often dynamic actions which evoke conflits and which may arise the mass-media's interests. The following represent the most important features of NGO's programs characterized by a stable organizational structure and according to the authors of this project important for the effective functioning of the whole ecological movement in Poland.
Polish Meetings of Ecological Movement have a deep-rooted tradition. The first National Meeting took place in 1989 in Warszawa. Since 1993 the meetings have been organized regularly by the Interacademic Ecological Lobby in Łódź cooperating with the Green Federation. These meetings take place at the end of April and at the beginning of May in Łask-Kolumna near Łódź. Every year they become more important. For the last three years over two-hundred people from over one-hundred national ecological organizations have participated in them. The program of the meetings is set in the process of yearly consultations with the representatives of the biggest organizations. The team consists of the coordinators of the programs supporting the ecological movement, the coordinators of Polish national campaigns, scientists and the organization's leaders. During the last meetings no significant strategic and political decisions were made regarding the ecological movement in some specific regions of the whole country. They rather play a role of a discussion forum or an information tribune. Gradually more important decisions concerning the future of the ecological movement are made: 1995 - the establishment of the network of ecological information offices, 1996 - discussion about "The Lobby Facility", the formulation of "LISTA 21". In the years to come, with the growing number of each organization's leaders, decisions regarding the politics of a large part of the movement will be made. Recently, in the process of preparation for the meetings, various governmental institutions have been engaged. Most interests are shown by: The Ministry of Environmental Protecion, Natural Resources and Forestry - both by knowledge and finances and the National Fund for the Environmental Protection and Water Management - financially.
Polish Green Network of Environmental Information Offices - was established in 1995 with the help of Milieukontakt Oost-Europa, Natuur Overejsel and several organizations from the largests cities in Poland. The Network consists of ten organizations from Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Krosno, Lublin, Łódź, Osztyn, Szczecin, Warszawa and Wrocław. These organizations established a consortium led by a Management Board - Program Committee of the Project which consists of representatives of all ten organizations. The Project is supported technically and financially by the Foundation for the Support of Ecological Initiatives in Kraków. The legal service is conducted by the Scientific Association for Environmental Law from Wrocław. The Network aims at improving the effectiveness of the activities concentrating on environmental protection in Poland. Most organizations in the Network publish their own magazines on a regional scale. In every city there exists or will exist The regional Office of Environmental Information which deals with the following matters:
The Network is still in the process of creation. The nearest future should mark the completion of the offices. So far such important cities as Poznań and Bydgoszcz have not joined the Network.
Service Office for Ecological Movement - is the oldest and the most important institution supporting the ecological movement in Poland. It was established in September 1991and it employed two people as part of the program of The Social Environmental Institute in Warszawa. BORE works as a typical supporting institution which does not represent either the ecological movement or any particular organization but it gives both knowledge and organizational support. It basically aims at improving the cooperation between NGO's through:
The supervision of the offices was to be exercised by the Board of Directors BORE elected at the ecological movement meeing in Brwinów. However, it collapsed in 1992 and since then it consisted mainly of the members of the Polish Green Net. At present BORE does not adequately carry out most of its assumptions. Such an office should have a position that this one lacks. It partly results from the lack of financial resources for stable activity and partly from the lack of clear program (the BORE staff deal with a typical activity for NGO). It is now a member of the Polish Green Net as an office for Warszawa Region with a wider competence.
LISTA 21 - the membership of the list was established informally at the X-th National Meeting of Ecological Movement "KOLUMNA '96". It is an entirely new body the future of which is still uncertain. It remains to be sen how it will be treated by the biggest organizations. Its future will be resolved next year. Most future members of the list met in June 1996 in Kraków. There were more people claiming that it is not an "umbrella institiusion"and that to the authorities it does not represent the ecological movement. Consultations with The List are not the equivalent of consultations with the ecological movement. The main tasks put forward at the meeting included:
The representatives of "LISTA 21" met subsequently in June with the representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection in order to put forward propositions regarding the activities of "LISTA 21". Various forms of cooperation between NGO's and Ministry of Environmental Protection were discussed.
Lobby Facility - a similar institiution called "The Hague Facility" works in The Netherlands. It funcions as a service institution. In Poland it will support campaigns and programs coordinated by NGO's. Lobby facility is necessary for those organizations which take actions that require current legal information as well as information from The Parliament and governmental institutions. It works on the border of three branches: NGO's, mass-media as well as The Goverment and The Parliament. As an institution specifically specialising in gaining and distributing materials, it treats activities as a priority. The personnel concentrates on the information and advice and not on a direct lobbying. After the meeting in June 1996 in Warszawa a group consisting of several people was called into being. It is responsible for designing a program to establish such an office in Poland. Research conducted in the latter part of 1995 by one of the activists of the Interacademic Ecological Lobby in Łódź showed the need to create such an institution in Poland.
National and Regional Centres of Ecological Education (KCEE) - were set up on the basis of a competition conducted by The Ministry of Environmental Protection in 1991. It was unexpectedly won by the National Foundation of Environmental Protection. Despite various insinuations, the personnel of KCEE tried to increase the credibility of their actions in NGO's. The Centre concentrates on publishing and training activities and it has already published several valuable materials for education. KCEE ceased to exist in 1994. Individual centers of ecological education were usually created on the basis of existing non-governmental or educational organizations some others in connection with voyevodship or municipal structures and are dependent on them both financially and organizationally. At present there are about 20 active local centers. Each them conducts its own activity based on its character. Once again the initiative acquires a new identity. It seems that after the necessary changes the network of RCEE as a structure will always support the process of ecological education in Poland.
The Most Computer Network - the activation of a new computer network which could improve the process of communication both within and outside of the movement, is in preparation. The first conference dealing with this problem was held in June this year in BORE in Warszawa. Most will enable the access to e-mail and other Internet resources, improving domestic an foreign cooperation. In the initiators' assumptions including a voluntary member of American Peace Corps and a member of the Interacademic Ecological Lobby, for the first two years MOST will work for free, and its further development will lead to the growing number of the basic members enabling its self -sufficiency at minimum monthly payment. It will also be possible to use the data of www (world wide web). In its office Both computers and technical staff will be employed. The coordinators also see the necessity of organizing special training sessions and computer programming configuration. Information available in MOST will refer to the calendar of ecological meetings and to existing law concerning environment protection. One of the important issues is Skrzynka Sugestii Uzytkownika (The User's Proposal Box). The information available in the network will depend on the user's needs and suggestions.
Finally, it should be pointed out that all the above mentioned initiatives are still in process of creation. As a result, they constitute a potential source of conflicts within the movement. The direction towards which they will evolve depends on the intrastructural process, as well as on the government's policy.
Besides, in Poland several strictly ecological magazines and bouletins are published. They may enable the flow of information and partly that is how they work. The most important source of information is Zielone Brygady (The Green Brigades) - the Ecologist's Magazine, which has been published monthly since 1989. At present, it is printed by "Zielone Brygady" - publishing company located at the Foundation for the support of Ecological Initiatives in Krakow. The magazine is run by a small group which prepares the materials acquired from the outside. In general the character of its activities depends on the quality of the acquired materials. "The Green Brigades" with its slogan advocating "You are also responsible for the flow of ecological information created a well-working system of information concerning current problems issues. The magazine is available mainly in subscription. Its circulation is equal to 2000 copies.
Skillful application of this structures may enable contacts and flow f information between the government administration and NGOs. It must be remembered however, that they do not deal with the whole variety of ecological movement's activities and independently of these contacts other mechanisms making it possible for every social organization and every individual citizen to gain access to the process of law formulation and information should be introduced.
The above text comes from the report "Cooperation between the Ministry of Environmental Protection and environmental NGOs" by the Environmental Law Association (Towarzystwo Naukowe Prawa Ochrony Środowiska).