With the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, local governments in Poland faced many new responsibilities, including the region's numerous environmental problems. Few officials knew effective ways to dispose of dangerous substances, manage sewage and solid waste facilities, or safeguard drinking water. Community responsibility also now fell on citizens, who for years had relied on a centralized government to provide for them.
ISC worked side by side with local government officials, citizens and community groups to tackle these new challenges. In addition to providing technical expertise and training, ISC helped build a culture of shared responsibility, helping citizens and local organizations gain the skills and confidence to solve their problems.
- Our water conservation program in the city of Radom, which addressed a depleted aquifer, won a prestigious environmental award from the European Union.
- We helped Elk, a community in northern Poland, improve the water quality its lake through a sewage plant upgrade, storm water purification installation, the introduction of economic sanctions against polluters, and environmental education.
- We worked with four Polish NGOs including the Regional Center for Environmental Education, providing hands-on technical expertise that helped them build their capacity to promote best practices in environmental management throughout the country.
- We helped the regional center implement a recycling and waste-management awareness program in local schools in the city of Plock. As a result of the knowledge the children brought home, the city realized marked increases in recycling rates.
- Our interactive, community-based education for sustainability program for teachers in grades 4 through 8 has been replicated in 200 other communities in Poland and influenced national education policy.