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The Warsaw Voice » Business » July 4, 2014
Innovative Poland
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Innovative District
July 4, 2014   
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The Warsaw Voice held its sixth conference in the Innovative Poland series targeted at local government authorities June 24. The conference, called Innovative District, focused on public-private partnership (PPP) projects.

The law on PPP was practically a dead letter for several years. Why? Local governments were scared stiff of working with business, fearing they might be accused of corruption. It wasn’t until the first projects were successful that local government authorities and companies got bolder.

The development of PPP projects has been affected by work on the legislation. Though still not perfect, the law is becoming an increasingly efficient tool for carrying out investment projects, according to Irena Herbst, head of Centrum PPP, a government agency tasked with preparing best practice standards and promoting public-private partnership (PPP) projects in Poland. Another factor impacting these projects is support from experts, primarily lawyers and economists, who help districts carry these out.

Paweł Pawłowski, deputy director of Warsaw City Hall’s infrastructure department, listed a dozen or so PPP projects that will be carried out in Warsaw, from comprehensive thermal efficiency improvement in public buildings and subsidized housing to modernization of street lighting. The main aim is to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. The city wants to create special low-carbon zones; the first ones are already in the pipeline, Pawłowski said.

One of Poland’s biggest PPP projects currently under way is work to modernize the Jagiellonian University campus in Cracow, according to Gilles Leonard, CEO of BY Polska, a member company of Bouygues Group, a global construction giant that has completed a dozen or so PPP projects around the world.

The second segment of the conference was concerned with efforts to upgrade lighting in districts. Sławomir Zalewski from the Warsaw University of Technology presented a whole spectrum of the latest energy conservation technologies that comply with European Union standards and directives.

Marek Łasiński, a director at Philips Lighting Poland, gave examples of several LED-based modernization projects in local areas in Poland as arguments in favor of this technology, which he said offers huge possibilities in terms of lighting management and rational use of light. In a panel discussion chaired by Prof. Wojciech Żagan from the Warsaw University of Technology, experts discussed legislative, legal and administrative changes needed to improve lighting in districts.

The discussion on the role of district lighting was heated. Light does not just ensure safe streets and roads, but is also an excellent tool of promotion, according to Michał Kaczmarzyk, an architect from the Qbik studio, which designs lighting for historic sites, plazas and parks, thus attracting crowds of tourists to these places.

All projects, regardless of their scale, need funding. The conference presented a broad spectrum of possibilities, including proposals from banks, municipal bond issues and programs run by the National Environmental Protection and Water Management Fund, which supports local governments in their eco-friendly and innovative investment policies.

Municipal bonds as a financial instrument that local governments are increasingly readily considering were discussed by Pekao SA bank’s Marcin Pasak and Robert Kwiatkowski, a director at the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

The conference concluded with workshops on PPP projects with the participation of experts.

At these workshops, practitioners—Centrum PPP President Irena Herbst, lawyer Tomasz Korczyński from the Warsaw office of Dentons law firm, BY Polska President Gilles Leonard, and Warsaw City Hall Infrastructure Bureau Deputy Director Paweł Pawłowski—showed the participants how to carry out a PPP project in a district, showing all the steps involved.

The conference brought together 150 local government representatives from both small rural districts and big cities with district status.

Elżbieta Wrzecionkowska
More about the conference at www.innovativepoland.org.pl
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