Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming parliamentary elections, water management needs the implementation of new solutions and a comprehensive view of water quantity and quality issues. The dynamics of environmental processes, attributed to climate change, is one of the key challenges to be faced in the coming years in this sector. Has this been noticed by the election committees and included in their programs? We checked it out for you.

Election 2023. Water should have its priority

The slogan “Water is life,” undeniably true by the way, is worth nothing without good planning and implementation of measures to improve the quantity and quality of the country’s water. That the resource should be protected is obvious, but still not everyone remembers that it’s not just a question of water for consumption, but first and foremost the development of socio-economic potential, which is determined by access to the resource. As World Bank experts point out, only by going beyond traditional management models in water management will it be possible to talk about climate resilience and mitigate the effects of water stress.

For us, as specialists in the field, it is extremely important that the approach to water be included in election programs and that water protection be given the appropriate priority. State security also includes an area related to water management. The proverbial “check” was given a broader context – environmental protection. We analyzed the election programs of the following committees (random order):

  1. Coalition Election Committee Trzecia Droga Polska 2050 by Szymon Holownia – Polish People’s Party (Trzecia Droga),
  2. New Left (Left) Electoral Committee,
  3. Law and Justice Electoral Committee (Law and Justice),
  4. Coalition Election Committee Civic Coalition PO .N IPL Greens (Civic Coalition),
  5. Confederation of Freedom and Independence (Confederation) Election Committee,
  6. Electoral Committee of the Non-Partisan Local Governments (Non-Partisan Local Governments).

Categories, analysis and results

The difficulty of analyzing election programs is primarily due to the lack of standards for the structure and format in which they were published. Hence, in order to talk about some kind of comparison of the provisions contained therein, it was necessary to try to assign a particular election declaration to one of the six categories we adopted:

  • Environmental protection – measures related to the need to protect the environment are included;
  • Water management – activities and intentions dedicated to the protection of water resources, river monitoring, but also artificial and natural retention;
  • Renewable energy – RES, nuclear, hydrogen, offshore wind power;
  • Environmental education – the need to raise public awareness in the area of environmental protection;
  • Protection of biodiversity – measures to preserve biodiversity, protect nature, protect forests;
  • Climate change – adaptation measures, measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Of course, it should be noted that certain aspects will always intersect, which is reflected in the records of the programs. After assigning specific election program declarations to a category, the following results were obtained, treating the category occurs/does not occur in the election program.

Wybory 2023 2
Who remembered the water? Election 2023 1

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Below is a summary of the election committees’ declarations on the analyzed areas from the published programs.

Third Way

  • Limiting timber exports;
  • Increasing the area of national parks and nature reserves;
  • Support for renewable energy sources;
  • Exclusion of 20% of forests from logging.

Left

  • Support for recycling (deposit system, returnable bottle standards, extended producer responsibility);
  • By 2030. 60% waste recycling;
  • Increasing the share of national park acreage from 1% to 4% by 2030;
  • The introduction of an environmental subsidy for local governments;
  • Transfer of partial control over forests to the public, possibility to challenge forest management plans in court;
  • 6% of forests completely excluded from logging and transformed into Civic Forests for nature functions and rest and recreation;
  • Fighting smog, alert systems when pollution standards are exceeded;
  • Establishment of an Animal Ombudsman, protection of the rights of farm, wild and domestic animals;
  • Developing a National Restoration Strategy to protect biodiversity, increase retention and combat climate change;
  • “sensible water conservation policy,” moving away from river regulation in favor of retaining water in the basin and increasing natural retention and protecting wetlands and floodplains;
  • Support in preserving green buffer strips along the banks of rivers and lakes that promote water quality;
  • Continuous water monitoring, early warning of risks, modeling of the spread of pollutants, creation of a network of measuring stations;
  • Expanding basic water testing to include additional indicators such as pharmaceuticals and microplastics;
  • Support to local governments in upgrading wastewater treatment plants;
  • Increasing the importance of the environment in the issuance of water permits,
  • Support for the development of renewable and nuclear energy;
  • Moving away from fossil fuels;
  • Energy conservation, support for thermal modernization of public sector buildings,
  • Upgrading the transmission network to reduce energy losses;
  • Involving citizens in the decision-making and investment process in public investment in RES;
  • Establishing a Concrete Crushing Fund to support local governments in transforming public spaces into greener ones, which supports small-scale retention and biodiversity;
  • Emphasizing the need to act on climate change;
  • Adapting urban spaces to climate change by promoting micro-retention and increasing access to benches, shade, toilets and drinking water sources.

Law and Justice

  • Improving air quality;
  • plan to develop an ecology fund, support small ecological initiatives;
  • Asbestos disposal;
  • Support for small-scale retention, subsidies for rainwater tanks, increasing biologically active areas in cities, improving water management on agricultural land,
  • Rational management of water, enabling the development of the country’s economy without harming the environment;
  • Combating drought, plan to increase the country’s retention capacity from 7% to 20% by 2031. i.e. Investment in large reservoirs, support for small-scale retention, activation of local communities in water issues;
  • development of inland shipping;
  • flood protection;
  • Financial support for municipalities in wastewater management;
  • Improving agricultural water management;
  • Activation of local communities, Local Water Partnerships, development of communication between residents and institutions and offices in the field of water management in rural areas;
  • taking care of the quality of water in the country’s water bodies, a comprehensive monitoring system that assumes continuous testing of physical and chemical parameters of water in rivers;
  • Expansion of ports and shipyards;
  • Support for renewable energy, a strategy for the development of nuclear-based energy with RES support;
  • atomic development;
  • offshore wind farm development plan;
  • Investment in thermal modernization of public and private buildings;
  • Support for youth environmental initiatives, a regional environmental education program and an ecology fund to promote environmental education among children and youth;
  • A plan to establish an eco-room in every school, by 2031. 6,000 of them are to be built;
  • More greenery in urban public spaces, local support for biodiversity;
  • Protecting Poland’s forests, preserving the competence of forest management in the hands of Polish authorities, increasing forest cover, conducting rational forest management;
  • Raising public awareness of climate change and its risks (rational resource management, improving air quality and reducingCO2 emissions).

Civic Coalition

  • fight against the illegal import of garbage to poland;
  • Wetland habitat restoration;
  • Limiting timber exports;
  • Covering rivers with permanent monitoring;
  • Upgrading the wastewater treatment and processing system;
  • The fight against illegal wastewater discharges;
  • Introduction of the “clean Oder” river revitalization program,
  • Support for small-scale retention in agricultural areas;
  • Unlocking onshore wind power;
  • Energy transition plan and development of RES and nuclear power;
  • Support for the creation of local energy communities generating electricity from RES;
  • Exclusion of the most naturally valuable forests from logging and their use for natural and social purposes;
  • Introducing social supervision of forests and the possibility of challenging forest management plans in court;
  • Reducing tree cutting in urban areas, local support for biodiversity;
  • Introducing the function of “urban gardener” taking care of parks, new plantings and ecological uses;
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Confederation

  • inclusion of renewable energy sources as additional, the basis of the energy system should be coal;
  • Improving RES energy production for agriculture;
  • Support agriculture in the production of biofuels for its own use.

Non-partisan local government officials

  • “responsible behavior toward the environment” with an awareness of multi-level environmental impacts;
  • Creation of a conservation watchdog (merging the current institutions into one) with broad powers;
  • Clarification of the regulations for emergency inspections by the Environmental Protection Inspectorate;
  • Online monitoring of major Polish rivers with early warning of threats;
  • Support for small-scale retention and water conservation;
  • Amendments to water permits, i.e. Introducing the relationship of permissible wastewater parameters with the level of water in rivers;
  • Decentralization of the energy industry in favor of smaller plants powered by renewable energy;
  • Support for nuclear power, hydrogen power, offshore wind power;
  • Support for the construction of sand energy storage facilities;
  • Education for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Notwithstanding the above, the implementation of a number of demands, included in the election programs, is extremely necessary for water management. It is hoped that water as a resource will only grow in importance, and its protection will be one of the priorities of future governments. Let’s remember – the quality of water is the quality of our lives.

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