The Environmental Network on Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) has evolved from four yearly international conferences on environmental protection held in Gdansk (1999-2002) and two held in Opole on environmental protection in the Baltic region and Central and Eastern Europe. An aim of SRD is to establish cooperation among individuals as well as institutions in the field of rural development (e.g. ecological farming), with an emphasis on educational aspects of sustainable development. The participants in the network come from Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, Denmark, and Norway. In 2002-03 the following activities are planned:


  • February 20-21, Opole, Poland: Meeting on network, workshop, and research development. The aim of this meeting is to develop interdisciplinary research in order to learn what is currently happening in rural communities regarding sustainable development (local strategies, land use, sustainable agriculture) in Central and Eastern Europe. Environmental NGOs will be involved in this project. Generally speaking, problems connected with Local Agenda 21, especially strategies and access to information, are of interest. Some points for common research may be: Does a Local Agenda 21 strategy exist in local communities? Is information about different aspects of Local Agenda 21 accessible to the local community? Did local authorities develop the Local Agenda 21 strategy together with the local community? Is access to information easy for the local community?

  • Research will be empirical, including telephone interviews, site visits, and email and letter inquiries. The project should result in recommendations on how to improve the situation, and will be done in tight cooperation with environmental NGOs and/or local authorities. The comparative interdisciplinary research should lead to a plan for initiating small-scale pilot projects in poor rural areas, where the developed strategies can be implemented and adapted. The aim of the pilot projects is to improve public discussion; disseminate information to the local community; involve citizens, such as farmers; and develop workshops.

    If you are interested in participating in the research and want to join the meeting in Opole, please send an e-mail to Joost Platje (jplatje@uni.opole.pl) by January 29, 2003 at the latest. Briefly describe your specific interests and ideas that can contribute to the development of the project. There is limited funding available for travel, accommodation, and meals.

  • April 7-9, 2003, Opole, Poland: International conference on "Ecological Agriculture and Rural Development in Central and Eastern Europe within the Framework of the Expansion of the European Union." This conference is interdisciplinary and open to scholars, students, representatives from environmental NGOs, and the interested public. The topic is important to a range of policy spheres including environment and sustainability, agriculture, trade, and transport. During the conference, workshops and guest lectures will be organized. The focus is on a) landscape change and sustainable rural development; b) increasing the importance of ecological farming; c) the potential for ecological farming and sustainable rural development in Central and East European countries; d) ecological transportation, logistics, and infrastructure; e) EU-enlargement as a stimulus for sustainable rural development and development of ecological farming in Central and Eastern European countries. Deadline for applications is February 15, 2003. For information, please contact Joost Platje at jplatje@uni.opole.pl.

  • End of May/Beginning of June: A conference is planned in Gdansk, Poland. The materials presented at the conferences, case studies developed, and research will be published for distribution to libraries of institutions of higher education in Central and Eastern Europe and countries of the former Soviet Union. This aims to exchange experience and information, stimulate interdisciplinary approaches, and support scholars with sources and materials to put their research and courses in a broader context.

Please contact our coordinator Joost Platje at jplatje@uni.opole.pl if you are interested in current activities or developing activities in the future.

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