Klub Gaja is one of Poland’s oldest NGOs. It began in 1988 as a small environmental group, and has taken on many different projects since then.
Klub Gaja is based in southern Poland near the Czech boarder. It has a high public profile and often uses alternative methods in its campaigns, such as art, street theatre, music and poetry to get the message across. The campaigns usually involve substantial co-operation with the media, and receives good coverage.
Klub Gaja has run a number of campaigns, with issues ranging from animal rights to the protection of aquatic environments. In 1994, Klub Gaja launched a campaign to protect the Vistula River, one of the last wild rivers in Europe, from further dam development. Klub Gaja has also been strongly engaged in combating the construction of a highway in a Natura 2000 area, known as Rospuda Valley, in central Poland.
One of Klub Gaja’s main work programmes is called “Adopt a River”, which started in 2005 and is a country-wide programme aimed at raising awareness of river environments. It consists of a mix of broader, long-term efforts such as a school programme, which involves educating children in over 4,000 schools about ecology and environmental issues, and more immediate, targeted activities such as river clean ups, often engaging local politicians, businessmen and decision-makers.
In the beginning of 2008, a marine component called “Adopt the Baltic” was added to the Adopt a River educational programme work through support from FISH, providing the 4,000 schools with information material about the Baltic Sea environment and the problems associated with overfishing.
To celebrate World Water Day and Baltic Day, Klub Gaja organized a series of educational workshops in southern Poland on March 22, 2008. Through the street performance project “The story of the Golden fish”, Klub Gaja gives example of their innovative way of achieving public environmental awareness. The Story of the Goldfish is a street play based on the tale “The Little Goldfish” by the Brothers Grim. The performance explores the fishermen dependency on nature, and explains the importance of respecting the Baltic Sea ecosystem. The story can be viewed at one of Poland’s most popular internet sites.
Notably, in November 2010, Klub Gaja, a member of the OCEAN2012 coalition, staged the ‘The Story of the Golden Fish’ in Oostende, Belgium, marking the start of a Belgian Presidency symposium “Improved Fisheries and Science Partnerships as Policy Drivers” on the current and future fisheries management methods.
“Fish have a Voice”
In June 2009, Klub Gaja launched the ‘Fish have a Voice’ project, which focuses on consumer targeted awareness about endangered fish species in the Baltic Sea emphasizing the need for sustainable fishing and consumption. The project also aims to enhance societal action to promote sustainable development and environmental protection within fisheries. Expanding public knowledge on fish species is a strong dimension of the activities included within this effort as is fostering fish-friendly attitudes and habits.
Some of the 2009 activites included theatrical street performances in three coastal towns – Miedzyzdroje, Kolobrzeg and Hel – targeting fish consumers and aiming at increasing awareness about current overfishing practices and their potential fatal consequences on some Baltic Sea fish species- such as cod. ‘Fish have a voice’ also presented a series of social educational radio shows, lead by Ewa Podolska of TOK FM. Lastly, Klub Gaja collaborated with the Hel Marine Station to host an exhibit on endangered fish species and sustainable marine development. All three campaigns have been successfully received and reached thousands of people.
A short interactive film on the impacts of unsustainable fishing has also been produced. Once you click on the link, chose ‘Historia Zlotej Rybki’ (The story of the Golden Fish).
Since 2010, Klub Gaja is a member of Ocean2012, a coalition of more than 100 organizations dedicated to an effective reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which puts an end to overfishing, ends destructive fishing practices, and delivers fair and equitable use of healthy fish stocks.
Klub Gaja also produces magazines, has published a number of books and has a weekly hour on radio, to trigger discussions on environmental issues. Klub Gaja has been active in various forms of environmental protection for more than 22 years.