The 21 partnership projects funded by Switzerland comprise various areas such as promoting tourism, the environment and energy, public transport, spatial planning and the economy. There are also community partnerships such as that between the commune of Villars-sur-Glâne in the Canton of Fribourg and the town of Zagórz (Subcarpathian Voivodeship) in south-eastern Poland. Despite the differences, all 21 projects follow a common goal – namely to promote the exchange of knowledge and experience in those specialist areas where a Swiss institution or NGO has a significant amount of expertise.
Such exchanges are enriching for both sides: the Polish and Swiss project managers do not only benefit from knowledge-sharing but also make important contacts at the international level. At the heart of these exchanges are the mutual visits which afford the project partners, local politicians and experts the opportunity to share their experiences.
Partnership funds exist not only in Poland but also in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. A total of CHF 23,3 million contributed by Switzerland is used to co-fund more than 150 small projects.
The following three examples are of Swiss-Polish partnership projects from different areas:
Promoting tourism thanks to expertise from Valais
Exchanging experiences with the Institute of Economics & Tourism at the HES-SO (University of Applied Sciences) in Valais contributes to strengthening the potential of the economically-weak region of Subcarpathia (Podkarpackie). For example the Polish project managers were given advice on how to modernise services for tourists and to make the offers available to them more attractive. This included the introduction of an electronic booking service on a local website with adverts for combination deals such as a package price for travel by public transport and accommodation.
Stepping up energy efficiency in Polish voivodeships
Roof greening improves the energy efficiency of houses by up to 30%. The practice is well-established in Switzerland but little-known in Poland. To this end the partnership project between the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and the Association of Municipalities Polish Network 'Energy Cities' (PNEC) follows two main goals: informing specialists and the Polish population about roof greening, as well as transferring know-how and implementing the necessary technology for roof greening.
Special needs education: looking for similarities instead of differences
With the goal of improving the professional qualifications of their staff, the special needs schools of the Canton of Vaud and that of the Polish village of Łodygowice (Silesian Voivodeship) have formed a partnership. During each of the visits to Switzerland and Poland (10 by each side) the 43 staff members became acquainted with the education and training methods of their project partner in a practical way. For example the Swiss staff first observed lessons given by their Polish colleagues before giving lessons themselves, and vice-versa.
"Working together has shown us that there are more similarities than differences in our work. Despite the geographical distance, we share the same values that go hand-in-hand with the challenges of educating children with special needs, their autonomy and their participation in social life – values practised by open communities and for the benefit of the children's development. The differences are limited to the various methodological approaches to special needs education and therapy which are enriching for our professional identity and give us new prospects."
Philippe NENDAZ – Head of the special needs office (Office de l'enseignement specialise, OES) of the Canton of Vaud