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How to avoid more disasters? Water management in emergencies

23 of March '23

In the vision of post-transformation Poland, the "round table" seems only a distant memory. However, there are topics that are still worth discussing precisely in such a formula, jointly seeking solutions and agreements. One of them is water - the Water Roundtable is needed today just like the historic one over thirty years ago.

On March 22, 2023, the Water Roundtable conference, organized by the GAP Foundation, the City-Water-Quality of Life Congress, the Open Eyes Economy Summit and the City of Wroclaw, was held for the third time at the New Horizons Cinema building in Wroclaw. The main topic, extremely topical in the face of last year's Oder pollution challenges, was "Managing Water in Emergencies." The event was held under the auspices of A&B.

What happened on the Oder River?

The first session, "Environmental disaster on the Oder - diagnosis of problems and needs in their context," was led by Professor Anna Januchta-Szostak and Professor Zbigniew Kundzewicz.

What really happened on the Oder River? Last year's catastrophe is a collection of years of negligence like illegal and "legal" sewage discharges, as well as factors dependent on temperatures and river regulation. Four reports have already been published in the media since the first news of the dead fish, showing the scale of the damage and opening the field for developing solutions.

Speakers talked primarily about the need to systematize regulations and avoid dilution of responsibilities by various entities. The role of NGOs, which is greater than before, was recognized, and it was noted that the restoration of life in the Oder River is a topic that should be spread over decades, and in this process renaturalization will be important. There was also a consideration of the issue of the responsibility of those who pollute the river, and what giving the Oder a legal personality can give it.

Uczestnicy pierwszej sesji.

Participants in the first session "Ecological catastrophe on the Oder - diagnosis of problems and needs in their context."

The session was attended by Jacek Bożek, Prof. Robert Czerniawski, Prof. Marek Degórski, Radosław Gawlik, Dr. Sylwia Horska-Schwarz, Prof. Krzysztof Kochanek, Piotr Nieznański, Dr. Jacek Ossowski, Dr. Sebastian Szklarek, Dr. Łukasz Weber, Dr. Marta Wiśniewska, Prof. Andrzej Woźnica

Photo: M. Jędrzejczak | © Open Eyes Economy

What lessons should we learn from crisis management so far?

The second session - "Relating the effectiveness of water management in emergencies related to extraordinary threats, especially ecological ones" - was led by Professor Elizabeth Nachlik.

What conclusions can be drawn from the discussion? First and foremost, that river monitoring must take into account many factors that have often been overlooked in previous studies, such as good detailed assessments and indications of all hazard sites. Due to bureaucratic blurring, integrating an adequate database is also a problem. Speakers also raised issues of popularizing knowledge about flood risks, or the need for partial decentralization.

Uczestnicy drugiej sesji.

Participants in the second session "Relating the effectiveness of water management in emergencies related to extraordinary hazards, especially ecological."

The session was attended by Prof. Damian Absalon, Dr. Antoni Bojarski, Jarosław Dolny, Prof. Ryszard Grosset, Krzysztof Kutek, Prof. Jacek Piskozub, Dr. Ksymena Rosiek, Andrzej Siudy, Prof. Ewa Szalińska van Overdijk, Renata Tomusiak, Prof. Mirosław Wiatkowski, Witold Ziomek

Photo: M. Jędrzejczak | © Open Eyes Economy

international cooperation

The last session, titled "International cooperation on border waters - commitments and opportunities to strengthen capacities for preserving security," was led by Professor Janusz Zaleski. It dealt with the formation of international cooperation on border waters from the 1990s to today. An important issue was the problem of negotiating in the context of international agreements to take better care of the environment, or a coherent water policy. There was also an interesting focus on wetlands, which can serve as support areas for defense policy.

Uczestnicy trzeciej sesji

Participants in the third session "International Cooperation on Boundary Waters - Commitments and Opportunities to Strengthen Capacities for the Preservation of Security."

The session was attended by Piotr Barański, Ilona Biedroń, Dr. Anna Dubel, Izabela Godyń, Dr. Jerzy Kozyra, Prof. Zbigniew Kundziewicz, Prof. Piotr Matczak, Witold Sumislawski, Dr. Tamara Tokarczyk, Jacek Zalewski, Prof. Jerzy Zwoździak

Photo: M. Jędrzejczak | © Open Eyes Economy

discussion needed yesterday

"The 3rd Water Roundtable" was summed up by Professor Jerzy Hausner, who spoke of the necessity of organizing the conference, as well as starting a dialogue on finding solutions that will allow us to prevent, rather than heal, the next healing wounds of the dying Oder, or other rivers.

profesor Jerzy Hausner podsumowujący konferencję

Professor Jerzy Hausner summarizing the conference

photo by M. Jedrzejczak | © Open Eyes Economy

A video recording of the conference is available on Youtube. We encourage you to watch individual sessions or the entire conference. Below are the starting times of the following sessions.

  • Introduction - 26:26
  • 1st session - 54:08
  • II session - 03:12:30
  • III session - 05:15:20
  • Closing - 07:03:16

compiled by Wiktor Bochenek

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