Facing global challenges in rural areas - reviving the ICN spirit in Warsaw

How can we transform our cities and prepare them for the challenges of the future? What is green tourism, and how do we motivate people to participate in redesigning their cities into green, modern living spaces? These and other questions were the main focus of the latest ICN conference, the second after a challenging break forced by the Corona pandemic.

About 25 participants from eight different countries gathered from 5th to 7th of September in Poland's capital Warsaw to network, revive the ICN spirit and discuss societies in transition and global challenges. How are regions and municipalities in Northern Europe dealing with topics such as climate change, modern housing, energy efficiency or green tourism? In various speeches, participants and ICN partners gave insides to the latest projects and developments in their region and gave answers to some of these questions.  

One of the current projects, where ICN is a partner, is the „Entrepreneurship in Zemgale“, where so far 36 training events for entrepreneurs with about 1000 entrepreneurs have been organized, according to project manager Sigita Silvjane. There have also been trade missions and study trips where Latvian teachers, public sector experts and private entrepreneurs have been visiting Norway.

The aim of a second project, where ICN is involved, is to create the first Academic Center for Ecological Education and Practice, and to introduce the administration of the basics of the subject entitled "Ecological Empathy" permanently into the curriculum of the business faculties“, explained project manager Eliza Szadkowska. Over one hundred people have increased their knowledge and pro-ecological competences. Twenty educators have gained new skills to involve citizens in activities for the proper management of their natural resources, carrying out 48 hours of a Training Camp for Educators.

Jenny Christensen and Christina Svensson, ICN partners from Sweden, introduced Unionsleden, a 350 Kilometer long bicycle trail that runs between Moss in Norway and Karlstad in Sweden. The trail increases accessibility to the border region's natural and cultural heritage while maintaining conservation status. Furthermore, the Unionsleden supports entrepreneurship for rural tourism development.

The participants of the annual conference also got interesting insides to this project: Greenways - development of former railway lines into sustainable tourism routes. Instead of leaving old rural train stations unused, this project aims to create favorable conditions for (potential) entrepreneurs nearby – with success, as Janis Sijats from Vidzeme Tourism Association showed with different examples.

Per-Erik Torp made visible how Fredrikstad community in Norway wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 percent, compared to 2016, by the year 2030. „Fredrikstad will contribute to achieving the global low-emission society by 2050“, said Per-Erik Torp and explained the city's plan to build houses in the center to reduce transport needs. The aim is to create conditions that contribute to more people walking, cycling or choosing public transport by building more cycle paths and free ferry rides.

Professor Cliff Hague addressed the United Nations´ Sustainable Development Goals and stated that there is an urgent need for actions in order to have the chance of avoiding global warming more than 1.5 C degree above preindustrial levels.

Marcin Bonislawski from the Suwalki city administration in Poland, presented a range of actions for adaptation to climate change. 

The KBT Vocational College in Trondheim, explained the model of social entrepreneurship, and mentioned an initiative which will focus on the upscaling of social enterprises at a European level. 

For more insights into different projects please check out the enclosed presentations.

A new international network board was formed, and this will be described in another article. After two full days of fruitful discussions, an interesting excursion into Warsaw's history, laughter and revitalizing friendship, all ICN partners are ready to face the challenges of our times by sharing ideas, knowledge and best practices. If you want to be part of this strong network, you are welcome to get to know us. We look forward to hearing from you.


Christin Schmidt

Media Manager & Freelance Journalist
mobile  +49 177 3012441
E-mail: schmidt.christin@gmail.com


Suwalki City Climate_change_ICN_06.09.23_ost.pdf

Latvian Greenways ICN Warsaw.pdf

Leaders of Eco change, summary of project results Eliza Szadkowska.pdf

Zemgale project_warsaw, 06sept,2023.pdf

Fredrikstad and the green shift.pdf

Social entreprenerurship KBT.pdf

Cliff Hague Societies in transition – Global Challenges Sep 2023 - Copy (2).pdf