Non-governmental organizations play a crucial role in Poland in the field of ecological education and in creating partnerships for sustainable development. Their importance is steadily increasing, among other things in the context of climate change and the resulting challenges for the economy and local governments. One of the most active organizations of this profile is the foundation established by Tadeusz Sendzimir (1894-1989), a famous inventor whose discoveries and patents revolutionized metalworking methods in the 20th century.

Sendzimir was aware of the environmental consequences of industry and human activity. In the late 1980s, when the scale of environmental devastation in the Eastern Bloc countries was revealed, T. Sendzimir, who had been living in the United States since 1939, established a foundation to support sustainable development. Organized by the Foundation between 1998-2016, the Summer Academy „Challenges of Sustainable Development in Poland” was the first in-depth educational program in the field of sustainable development for local communities and business. Over time, Academy graduates, together with Dr. Jan Sendzimir (Tadeusz’s son), decided to transfer all activities to Poland and significantly increase the scale of operations.
The Foundation initiates and supports educational, research, and practical projects aimed at solving complex environmental, economic, and social problems. It cooperates with companies, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and communities, participating in local, nationwide, and international initiatives. It places particular emphasis on building lasting and partnership contacts between the participants of its projects.

A theme that currently runs through most of the Foundation’s projects is climate change, the need for its mitigation, and adaptation to its negative effects. The Sendzimir Foundation initiates the exchange of experiences and best practices between various stakeholders from Polish cities to propose appropriate, practical solutions, e.g., more effective development of blue-green infrastructure to reduce the risk of droughts, floods, urban heat islands, soil erosion, etc. The Foundation promotes solutions of various spatial scales, from small rain gardens and retention basins to systems of city parks and river renaturation.


The Foundation’s team organizes conferences and workshops, publishes recommendations and best practices, and facilitates cooperation between public and private entities. For example, as part of the project „Intersectoral cooperation for greenery in Polish cities,” 30 municipal representatives formed a working group discussing problems and identifying areas requiring intervention. In Łódź, workshops were organized on protecting trees during investment works. In Wrocław, methods of planting trees in areas with underground infrastructure were discussed. In Krakow, improvements in cooperation between environmental management personnel were discussed.

The result was the definition of new standards for maintaining and accessing urban greenery, combining durability and aesthetics with care for ecosystem services related to water retention, climate change adaptation, and biodiversity protection. Thanks to the dialogue, participants were able to understand how important data collection is and how information gathering can improve the effectiveness of greenery management. The project showed that cities face similar challenges and can solve them more effectively by working together.
The Foundation develops and conducts training programs, usually consisting of several stages: an e-learning course and practical stationary workshops. One such program was implemented within the project „Renovation and thermal modernization of historic buildings in the era of the climate crisis.” The training, aimed at, among others, local government officials, conservators, architects, civil engineers, and construction contractors, was attended by over 200 people. More than 70 of them were invited to participate in several-day workshops, where, under the supervision of an interdisciplinary team of specialists, they could jointly develop renovation concepts for nine historic buildings.

In December 2023, the Foundation signed two more agreements with the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management. Within the program „7.2 Ecological education,” two projects will be implemented: „Urban Biodiversity Havens. Maintenance of green areas supporting city resilience to climate change” and „Good practices of green leaders from local government and non-governmental organizations,” which aims to convince local leaders (decision-makers, municipal officials, councilors, village heads, third sector activists, volunteer fire departments, rural women’s associations, etc.) that they can and should take actions towards a circular economy, greenery, and rainwater management.
The Foundation’s team also participates in international scientific projects, including the most prestigious EU programs Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. Experts’ recommendations and workshop results are published in the Foundation’s own scientific magazine „Sustainable Development – Applications” and in publicly available reports, intended to inspire municipalities to take action. To promote knowledge as widely as possible, the Foundation publishes books, brochures, educational films, webinars, which can be freely obtained, watched, or downloaded from the website.

It is worth adding that in 2022, specialists from the Sendzimir Foundation were involved in the „Green-Blue Pobiedziska” project co-financed by the EEA and Norway Grants. The partner of the Pobiedziska Municipality in this project is the Norwegian chapter of INTBAU – an international network promoting sustainable principles of construction, architecture, and urban planning, which brings together 40 non-governmental organizations across six continents. Specialists from the Norwegian and Polish INTBAU and the Sendzimir Foundation participated in the Pobiedziska climate conference and jointly conducted workshops for schools.

The cooperation between INTBAU and the Sendzimir Foundation has a long history – both organizations were, for example, involved in the substantive preparation and conduct of postgraduate studies „Management of Sustainable Urban Development” at the Cracow University of Technology. They are currently cooperating in the Horizon Europe FuturHist project (2024-2027), which explores ways to improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings in the context of the climate crisis. The project is implemented by a large European research and development consortium, in which the Sendzimir Foundation is responsible for building competencies and disseminating knowledge, and INTBAU for global promotion.

Dr. Arch. Tomasz Jeleński

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