GB No. 4, spring 1991
The independent society "Green Movement" in Warsaw initiated the Social Ecological Institute.
An outline of the Institute's goals was introduced at the April ecological seminar: "How to save Silesia?" in Gliwice. It was widely discussed in May 1989 in Katowice at the meeting of ecological groups organized by the Committee of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of the Civic Committee.
The ecological movement in Poland includes more than 40 informal groups, not including registered organisations, committies, societies and groups engaged in environmental protection or including ecological problems in their activity. They arose spontaneously, mobilizing the local communities to protect nature and living conditions. Such authentic local movements, which grew out of protests against the irrational decisions of the authorities of different levels, include:
All authentic ecological initiatives have not had a chance to be legalized for years. In the eighties the registration of many completely non-political groups and associations was impossible, as it was difficult for the authorities to control their activity.
Formal organizations, ie. those financed by the state in accordance with its Statutes, seemed to be in- effective in their activity, in spite of their freedom and their lawful authorization to protect the social interest in legal action against those who break the rules of environmental protection. Their ineffectiveness is caused by red tape, and sluggishness in taking decisions and actions.
Informal actions are the natural answer to the powerlessness of legal organizations and the authorities' arrogance in relation to the nature and people.
Participants in the ecological movement know that we all need to live in harmony with nature as we are just a part of it and by destroying it we destroy ourselves. They know what happens when nature's law is not taken into consideration. They know that there is no justification for the devastation that has been inflicted upon the environment in recent decades and which is destroying more and more areas in Poland.
There are no effective administrative or lawful means in Poland of protecting nature and society from the results of natural environment degradation or against the irrational decisions which led to it. The law settles tasks for the administration, which makes it impossible to control it, but it does not demarcate compe- tence or liability, as it is a result of politic's primacy to the law.
Environmental protection is a component of the socio-economic policy of the state, which so far has not served society or the economy.
History has shown that all changes in our country take place under social pressure, and that appeals and arguments, which are not well grounded, are unsuccessful.
The effectiveness of social actions, especially of those protecting the environment and the people living in it, depends and will depend on their quality. The Social Ecological Institute is to be the base for social demands, increasing their effectiveness. It is to serve as a compenent aid to all people who protest against the lowering of the quality of society's standard of living caused by the environmental degradation in Poland.
The socio-political state system instigates institutional and lawful solutions, which determine environmental policy and also create certain conditions for social activity and different forms of public opinion pressure in the field of protection and formation of the environment.
Economic policy states its goals and how to realize them, and indicates the place of environmental protection in the socio-economic state system. Giving in economic priority to the quantitative development of production concealed the ecological problems. The system of economic planning as a realization of economic policy was submitted to the quantitive development.
The National Programme of Environmental Protection from July 1989 contains the scenario for Poland's development. The general strategic goal is to stop unfavourable trends and then reverse the tendencies, which persist in exploitation and pollution of the environment. The programme appeals for help from everybody, and proposes an action strategy to the social ecological movement.
The programme demands acceptance and adherence to ecodevelopmental principles and eco-policy, which is their result, including the evolution of ecological goals into system of social and economic goals.
The realization of eco-policy will depend on society's attitude, its activities and choice of pressure, which will incline the state administration to carry out eco-policy.
Social activity requires that all understand man's place in the world of nature and understanding the essential principles of co-existing with the surrounding environment. Raising ecological consciousness is a social means of environmental protection, and social action and demands for its protection are the effects of dissemination of ecological knowledge in society and experiences connected with the results of the environment's degradation.
The Social Ecological Institute is to help in the realization of eco-development principles, to support all social initiatives opposing the environmental degradation and the threat to society which results from it. It is an social advocate when conflicts are caused by breaking the law.
The main goals of the Social Ecological Institute are:
The Social Ecological Institute will realize its goals by:
The Social Ecological Institute was registered on May 26, 1990 as the Association, which has legal status and is able to belong to organizations with similar goals in this country and abroad. Its members are specialists in various areas: geographers, architects, geologists, doctors, sociologists, physicists, chemists, agronomists and others, who professionally deal with environmental protection and are representatives of the ecological movement in Poland. The Institute began work in September 1989. Since that time our work has joined the vigour of the ecological movement with the knowledge and experience of the professionals.
The most important matter for the members of the Institute is ecological education, including the humanistic and ecological way of seeing and reacting to the work. The ecological education of the authorities is currently very important as our future depends on consciousness and ethical attitudes of these people.
The Social Ecological Institute is an initiator and participant in various independent social initiatives on environmental protection in Poland and in other European countries.
The Independent Ecological Center attached to the Institute is an inquiry office and a place to make contacts between ecological groups in Poland and abroad. This office gathers and transmits the informations received from ecological organizations. This information concerns the actions, meetings, conferences, congresses, courses, competitions, camps, etc., which are organized.
The Social Ecological Institute makes its own projects and programmes, which are proposed to, among others, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry. It created the "Programme of Protection of Mountain Forests in Southern Poland" and the "Programme of Rescue for the Izerskie Mountains", the opinion of the construction of nuclear power station in Żarnowiec and others. It collects documents which let us intervene in defence of the environment.
The Institute gathers educational materials, which are used in work with children, young people and adults as educational equipment used for increasing ecological consciousness.
The Institute's activity is based on the social work of its members and does not have a contact source of income; it is not financed by any institutions. It has a room, a desk and telephone, which were put at its disposal by PSL "Solidarność" - "be kind to the ecologists".
We would be grateful to all ecological organizations (and not only these) who can assist us, eg. with educational materials, stationary, and information about ecological organizations all over the world.
Społeczny Instytut Ekologiczny
(Social Ecological Instutute)
(Jolanta Pawlak - President)