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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » November 28, 2013
Destination Warsaw
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Green Dilemmas
November 28, 2013   
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Leszek Drogosz, Director of Infrastructure at Warsaw City Hall, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

The 19th UN Climate Change Conference (COP19) was held in Warsaw in November. How were the logistics organized to receive such a large number of delegates and visitors from around the world?
The Warsaw Destination Alliance (WDA), whose members include major hotels in Warsaw, was responsible for coordinating most of the accommodation bookings and that went very smoothly. Overall, there were about 15,000 people, though of course not all were direct delegates to the conference. The National Stadium itself could cater for no more than 6,000 people for safety reasons and there were several parallel conferences, forums and events organized. They were held at the Palace of Culture and Science and at several five-star hotels, educational institutions and other venues around the city. We had a huge tent in front of the Palace of Culture where a three-day film festival and other events were held. The tent housed 1,000 people. We had a special website prepared to provide our visitors with information about all the cultural events around Warsaw at the time and it was also available as a smartphone app.

How is Warsaw City Hall involved in the Warsaw Tourist Organization (WOT)?
We work together very closely to promote Warsaw and to work out a mechanism to create a complex conference business for Warsaw. WOT is in a better position to coordinate all types of activities, both promotional and commercial, as unlike City Hall, WOT does not have formal administrative restrictions and budgetary limitations on conducting such activities. We provide the bulk of funds and WOT also has funds from membership fees from its other members, including hotels, companies that provide tourist and associated services, as well as cultural institutions. Also, I am member of the board of WOT.

One of our main aims is to show that Warsaw is a place where it is great to meet, where it’s worth organizing events and conferences, that we have world-class facilities that can house 10,000 people.

And we are hoping that some of the people who came to COP19 will come back again with an idea to organize their own event here. Also, we jointly organized a Green Warsaw exhibition during COP19 at the city’s metro stations.

What does Warsaw City Hall’s Partnership for Climate project involve?
After COP15 in 2008 in Poznań, the Ministry of the Environment set up a program to promote the protection of the environment among local residents. It brought together various areas of our society, including business, NGOs, residents and public administration to work together. Warsaw City Hall took an active part in this. One of the most popular is our annual Atmospheric Picnic.

When last year the ministry decided to discontinue its coordination of the Partnership for Climate program, Warsaw City Hall took over as we felt it would be a shame to lose all the momentum after several years of effective work. And we had various tools already in place to continue various projects as part of the program.

A lot can be done. Not only to educate the young generation, but also to influence business, politicians and various government officials as well as middle-aged and elderly residents, who are more difficult to convince that we have a responsibility to future generations.

Additionally, as part of COP19, we organized a Green Climate exhibition at the Palace of Culture and Science, under the auspices of the president’s wife, Anna Komorowska. Apart from its educational value, particularly for schools, we wanted to show that COP19 is really important and lessons learned from it can be applied in everyday life. COP19 should not be seen as an isolated UN event that has no effect on the average man in the street. We have been working hard to change awareness among our residents so that we have a better informed and environmentally-conscious society.
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