Almost all projects were completed by the end of 2016. All projects have resulted in many positive and concrete results. Below is an overview based on the five project goals.
Results in Poland
135 doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers have taken part in a fixed-term research residency at a Swiss university thanks to a SCIEX fellowship. Strategic cooperation between Poland and Switzerland has also been strengthened thanks to 50 research institutions that have taken part in a joint Swiss-Polish research programme.
Promoted economic growth and enhanced employment conditions
Since the beginning of the Swiss-Polish Cooperation Programme, inter alia 14 regional strategies referring to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have been developed by Polish authorities, almost 10,000 persons increased their knowledge on financial standards, in financial reporting and auditing and 4 Venture Capital Funds received support in developing their investment schemes. Through amendments of Polish Legal acts and introduction of new accounting standards, the Polish legal framework in the area of financial reporting and accounting has been further aligned with the EU legislation. In order to reduce the shortage of internal capital and the lack of access to external sources of financing 36 Polish SMEs benefited from investments of Venture Capital (VC) funds supported by the Swiss-Polish Cooperation Program – SPCP. In addition, 60 private investors and fund managers became active at early stage investments.
Preventive health care
Various programmes serve to prevent hepatitis C, obesity, alcoholism and smoking, and to encourage oral hygiene with children. In the last topic, 300’950 children aged 3-5 years benefitted from educational activities by trained nursery staff and a countrywide 27% increase in the rate of parents of children aged 0-2 years covered with preventive activities was achieved. The prevention of obesity and the promotion of healthy nutrition have been included as strategic objectives in the National Health Program for 2016-2020. The National Institute of Food and Nutrition, actual partner of the Swiss-funded project, has the responsibility in education for healthy dietary habits and lifestyle. 5,000 persons of medical and non-medical personal like tattoo-shops have been trained on HCV prevention. Together with several other initiatives, the project on prevention of use of alcohol and tobacco contributed to a positive trend with the decrease of the percentage of Poles who smoke on a regular basis (from 31% in 2011 to 24% in 2015).
Improving medical and social services
In the provinces of Świętokrzyskie, Lublin, Małopolskie and Podkarpackie, socio-medical care facilities can now provide better quality services thanks to the renovation and modernisation of infrastructure and training for nursing staff. Around 70% of the employees (medical staff and care personnel) of partner establishments have completed training programme and obtained higher qualifications. The socio-medical centres now achieve a better rate of rehabilitation and offer several therapies to patients to lead them with a more autonomous life.
In Poland, in order to protect the environment and to mitigate the negative effects of global warming on people, Switzerland is active in the fields of renewable energy, waste disposal, biodiversity and public transport. Within the whole Swiss-Polish Cooperation Programme, more than 230,000 persons have been made aware about environmental issues.
Improving energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy
Switzerland has been supporting ten projects aimed at increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies in Poland over the last five years. One of the priority regions for the Swiss cohesion contribution programme in Poland is the south-east. Here, about 50 municipalities have benefited from co-financing to purchase and set up solar installations to heat water for around 25,000 households and 210 public buildings. 120 public buildings have also been equipped with solar panels and around 40 geothermal heat pumps. In north-eastern Poland, more than 90 public buildings have been modernised and equipped with solar panels in 24 different locations.
In Warsaw, the energy efficiency of the city’s heating system has been improved by replacing around 100 district heating stations (20% of the system) with 810 individual stations, benefiting around 50,000 inhabitants. Switzerland’s cohesion contribution programme has also assisted in the construction of a biomass plant in Lębork, an innovative system providing 37% of the town’s heating and electricity for its 35,000 inhabitants. In addition, all projects have included wide-ranging activities to raise public awareness of renewable energies and environmental protection. Switzerland’s cohesion contribution programme in Poland has also contributed to improving air quality and has reduced annual CO2 emissions by 88,000 tonnes.
Thanks to the Swiss-Polish Cooperation Programme, 44,000 families now live in asbestos-free houses. Since 2012 when the projects started, 130,000 tonnes of asbestos have been removed and neutralised. Within one of the supported projects, a new waste management facility has been built, benefiting 81,000 inhabitants of the Lubartow subregion and of Lublin (Lubelskie province). It has improved the area’s system of recycling, waste separation, processing of compostable waste and conversion of methane producing waste to electricity (bio-gas).
Promotion of biodiversity and nature conservation
Seven projects contribute to environmental protection and nature conservation with a broad spectrum of activities ranging from habitat and species mapping to developing conservation strategies and implementing concrete restoration measures. In parallel, the projects engaged NGOs and their members in awareness raising activities related to the promotion of biodiversity and environmental monitoring. Typically, the knowledge on 30 threatened bird species was improved, allowing for their better protection. In another project, more than 800 ha of permanent grassland were inventoried with regard to its flora. An altogether different project has provided 700 sheep to 39 farmers, while at the same time sensitizing the farmers to an ecological land-use. Again other projects helped restore 6 km of river banks, renovate 15 so-called “oxbows” and assessed 5300 km2 of forest and farmland leading to the preservation of 770m of migration corridors where animals cross human-induced barriers.
Improving the safety and reliability of local and regional public transport
The construction of a new transport hub in Legionowo (20 km north of Warsaw) aimed at providing more convenient public transport and a better connection with the capital of Warsaw. The facilities available to passengers include a railway station building, which additionally hosts a new public library, a passenger information system, new Park and Ride facilities and a new access road. Four diesel units serve passengers on the line between Malbork and Grudziadz in the Pomorskie region; one train was upgraded and railway lines have been modernised and six trains were delivered for the Warsaw Commuter Rail WKD. Height level crossings were equipped with new Automatic Signalling System devices, and 25 km of railway lines underwent comprehensive repairs.
Improvement of border security and modernisation of border crossings
A number of projects are contributing to securing the 1,200 km border dividing the Schengen area from Belarus and Ukraine. Work to renovate and upgrade two border posts at Połowce (vehicles) and Siemianówka (trains) has been completed. The efficiency of crossing formalities has improved and traffic on the two reconstructed border crossings has increased. For example, the number of wagons passing the border in Siemianówka annually increased from 27’466 in 2014 to 39’445 in 2016. According to custom’s data, the purchase made in Poland by foreigners, mainly Belarusians, that crossed the border in Połowce increased within one year from 30 mio PLN in 2015 to 35 mio PLN in 2016 (period of eight months). 90% of the mobile border guards, who are deployed in the hinterland close to the border, have increased qualifications through specialized trainings.
Support for migration and crisis management
99 local authorities and civil protection instances in the three provinces of Podkarpackie, Małopolska and Lublin increased their knowledge and skills in emergency response. 72 institutions, including 26 NGOs, developed their know-how and competences in migration management. Works at the Epidemiological Filter, a medical center situated in one of the main reception center for asylum seekers, were finalized and the filter will start operations in 2017.
Improving traffic safety
In seven counties of the provinces of Małopolskie, Lublin and Podkarpackie road safety has been improved thanks to the introduction of traffic-calming measures. These structural improvements went in parallel with the training of some 650 police officers in traffic control. The impact of the project can be seen in the significant drop in accidents involving pedestrians in the regions where project activities were carried out. Together with other initiatives on road safety, the project has contributed to a 17% decrease of casualties due to road accidents (from 3’571 in 2012 to 2’938 in 2015).
Swiss-Polish Partnership fund
21 partnership projects promoting the exchange of knowledge and know-how between Swiss and Polish municipalities and institutions were completed in Poland in 2015. In all, some 30 visits to Switzerland took place involving 384 Polish nationals, of which 147 took part in 25 events organized by Swiss partners.
Support funding for NGOs
A total of 336 NGOs obtained funds to promote and strengthen civil society's participation in the economic and social development of the country. All projects were completed on schedule. The NGOs organised approximately 1,500 awareness-raising activities on civic participation, in which more than 18,000 people took part.