THE STOP DROUGHT! PROJECT AT THE BIOECONOMY CONGRESS IN ŁÓDŹ

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On 7 October 2019, (thanks to the sponsorship of the SWH Polish Waters), the Stop Drought! project was presented at the 7th International Bioeconomy Congress in Łódź.

The Bioeconomy Congress included various lectures, discussion panels and workshops. The event was a space for anyone interested in bioeconomy and broadly defined environmental protection. Nearly 100 speakers and more than 500 guests from Poland and abroad participated in the congress. The topics discussed during the event included sustainable development, bioeconomy, social change and the latest environmental protection technologies – all aimed at counteracting climate change. The possibility of influencing climate change, anti-smog activities and waste management are hot topics, both in Poland and the rest of the world.

The representatives of business, the scientific community and local government participating in the congress, had an option to choose from 18 different thematic panels. During the event, a group of renowned experts, scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians and local government officials discussed issues concerning sustainable agriculture, rural biodiversity and water management problems, including those related specifically to the Łódzkie Voivodeship. The drought which affected this region has left a lot of problems in its wake, especially on local farms. To avoid such a situation in the future it is necessary to introduce proper changes in water management.

During the meetings and panels both the variety of issues that comprise bioeconomy, as well as the need to properly capitalise on the opportunities offered by future EU funding opportunities, were frequently emphasised. To act effectively, any problems that one wishes to resolve must be accurately diagnosed. Thankfully, the research and legal tools created by the Commission greatly facilitate that process. Tomasz Calikowski of the EC’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation ‘Healthy Planet’ pointed out that preserving biodiversity, access to drinking water and reducing animal production and environmental degradation are among the primary goals of the EU. He also stated that the EC strives to make Europe a carbon-neutral continent.

Prof. Maciej Zalewski, Ph. D., Director of the European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, spoke about ecohydrology with regard to farming. The second session was devoted to climate change in the Łódź region and during its course, the effects of a changing climate were presented as the greatest public health challenge worldwide. The key consequences of this process in Poland, abroad and in the Łódź region itself were also indicated. In particular, the claim that the most commonly occurring consequence is disturbed water circulation was confirmed. Such disturbances cause an increased risk of flooding and prolonged periods of drought. Another topic discussed was the important role of urban green areas, not only in the context of pro-ecological activity but also with regard to preventing modern-day diseases.

The Stop drought! project was discussed as part of the Regional Spatial Information System by Dr Małgorzata Stolarska, Contractor Project Manager at WIND-HYDRO and Grzegorz Łukasiewicz, also from WIND-HYDRO. The first drought-related national geoportal, available at www.konsultacjesusza.pl, was widely discussed during the event. The geoportal displays the degree of agricultural, hydrological and hydrogeological drought hazard in individual regions of Poland. Importantly enough, the degree of drought hazard was analysed in a representative period of time encompassing the last thirty years, i.e. 1987-2018, and in the case of agricultural drought, 1997-2018. The geoportal also contains maps of underground water resources and proposals for investment projects aimed at counteracting the effects of drought. The participants could also hear about both the project and the problem of drought at the DECP Stop Drought! Stand. Here, information on these issues was provided by Rafał Jakimiak, project coordinator at the National Water Management Authority and SWH Polish Waters.