GB No. 5-6, summer-fall 1991



The Polish Ecological Club (PKE) was founded on September 23, 1980, in Cracow, during the first Solidarity movement, by scientists, physicians, journalists and other persons aware of the Polish ecological crisis. PKE aimed to create a new environmental strategy based on respect for human and natural resources. It was the first such organization in Poland, recognizing from the beginning the social nature of environmental problems. PKE was officially registered on May 25, 1981, breaking the barrier of silence surrounding environmental problems in the country.

In 1981, after a massive campaign, PKE forced the closure of the electrolysis division of the Skawina aluminum plant near Cracow, which was a major source of toxic fluorides. After this success, PKE set up 17 branches throughout Poland. The first president of PKE was Professor Przemysław Szafer.

During martial law some local branches were closed and their members persecuted. Those that remained active concentrated on PKE ideology and prepared numerous publications contributing to the growth of ecological awareness in society.

PKE's first national meeting in 1983 saw the club become more elite. It was led by experts and known authorities, and Professor Stanisław Juchnowicz was elected President. At that time PKE was in conflict with ERS (Ecological Social Movement), which had been created by the communist National Salvation Front to control other ecological organizations. PKE remained independent and a nonpolitical organization.

PKE pursued ecological education in many ways, through seminars, the publication of several bulletins, protests, and even books, one of them being about the ecological disaster in Cracow. Cracow was declared to be a specially protected zone in 1989. Most essential was the creation of the concept of "Eco-Development", stemming from a conference organized by PKE in 1986.

PKE introduced Eco-Development at the Polish "round table" on ecology, which took place in March/ April 1989. Out of 14 participants from Solidarity, 5 were from PKE, including the chairperson. The concept of Eco-Development was adopted as the first point in the protocol of the agreement between the government and the opposition. PKE contributions covered the majority of ecological problems expressed in the protocol. The document, finished after five weeks of intensive negotiations, contains the programme which is to be implemented in the next two years and also should be considered as a basis for the preparation of a National Programme of Environmental Protection in Poland. It addresses 5 groups of problems:

  1. Proecological activities in economic processes (incorporation of ecological goals into social and economic goals and the country's developmental plan).
  2. Regulation of laws concerning legal, economic and environmental aspects.
  3. International cooperation.
  4. Social system for the protection of the environment.
  5. Interventions.

The only disagreement related to nuclear energy. Solidarity and PKE opposed the government's plans for nuclear power plant construction and demanded that the building of the nuclear power station in Żarnowiec on the Baltic coast be stopped.

By the third National Meeting in 1990, PKE had 4,000 members in 17 branches. PKE is active in the preservation and enlargement of the National Parks, the evaluation of public health problems, the introduction of bio-dynamic methods into ecological agriculture, organizing days without cars, creating an Ecological Library, opposing nuclear power stations and forming links with ecological NGOs in other countries - partly to draw attention to transboundary emissions.

PKE has helped the country to recover from the ecological damage caused by the Stalinist model of industrialization, but now it must be vigilant, for new threats are posed by the free market transfer of dangerous technologies.


PKE disputes the opinion that during an economic crisis our country cannot afford to pay for the protection of the environment.

Two aspects in particular should be considered:

We therefore feel that all economic reforms which aim to overcome the current crisis must consider the superiority of ecological demands as a requirement for improving our lives and as a guarantee of mental and physical health for this and future generations.

PKE demands the consideration of the following reforms:

Particular care should be given to:

GB No. 5-6, summer-fall 1991 | Contents