Sustainable development - Austria versus the Czech Republic

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Nowadays, the environmental, economic and social spheres are strongly connected. Harmony between them is very important for successful sustainable development that takes into account the current as well as the future needs of our society. Environmental-friendly technologies, saving energy or supporting local production – these are some of the ways how to follow up on this idea. Thanks to our excursions in Styria we had the chance to discover that it might work.

Examples of sustainable development in Styria – overview

Zotter chocolate manufactory

In Zotter, we appreciated that the management of the manufactory insists on the high quality of its products and cares about the ingredients from the very beginning. Only organic ingredients are used and also fair-trade market is supported. [1] This step is very important because everybody deserves to be equally compensated for their work and it helps to improve living conditions even in undeveloped countries.

Gölles vinegar and schnapps producer

In the Gölles manufactory, local products are used if possible [2] – it saves energy (and consequently money) for transport while supporting regional producers. Futhermore, the manufacturer can also check the quality of the products he uses. But how to persuade people to buy these high-quality, often fair-trade and organic, but perhaps a little more expensive and unknown products? We think that much better than a commercial advertisment is to make people familiar with the process of production, let them to try or taste the product or also follow local traditions. Consumers should be aware of the fact that if they buy local products, they gain more than just a good product – they support their region and the environment.

Solar beer brewery

Another aspect that can help regional development is tourism. Of course, some places are more attractive than others, e.g. thanks to their natural or historical background. However, in Gleisdorf, we saw that even a good idea is enough because a local hotel is successful thanks to an original beer-spa concept. Furthermore, a part of energy consumption is covered by renewable sources (solar energy).[3]

Gesäuse national park

We really appreciated the attitude of the Gesäuse natural park towards its visitors. They focus not only on preserving nature and scientific research, but also on informing people and educating children [4] both in an interesting and amusing way. This could be a good inspiration for Czech protected areas.

Development in mining and post-mining regions - comparison (focused on the economic and social situation)

will be finished soon

Eisenerz

Eisenerz, a city located in Styria, Austria, has a long iron-ore mining history starting in the 12th century. Despite the quarry is active even today, mechanization of mining led to the loos of working places and consequently to the significant decline in the city population. It fell from more than 18 000 in 1944 to only approximatelly 4 800 in 2012. Furthermore, 67 % of people are 45 years or older while the average percantage of this age group in Austria is 38 %. [5] This change brings many social and economical problems that are to be solved in order to make Eisenerz lively and prosperous place. Some successful project have already beed realized in this area. The old mining tradition is presented like an attracction for tourists (around 100 000 visitors per year) which makes the place more known and also created working places (20 news jobs). [6] [7] Very popular is annual Motorcycle event Erzrod, starting in 1995. It makes 100 temporary working places and touristical capacity is always used at that time. Furthermore, it attracts attention mainly of young people. [8] [9]Also coopearation of museums in the area should attract more attention to the place. [10] [11]

Ore mountains

During the communist era, the region of Ore Mountains (located on the border between the north-west Bohemia nad Germany and consequently affected by an expel of German population after the WWII) was used like a source of brown coal with no care about environmental and social conditions. It led to the complex devastation of the place. This situation changed after the revolution and turn to democracy in 1989 (beginning of reclamation projects etc.) but there are still problems in the region, connected e. g. to a discussion about using coal supplies under inhabited areas. [12]

Conclusions

It is possible to observe a tendency to support sustainable development in the Czech Republic but we still have a lot to learn and improve. People should be more informed about the "history" of the products and energy sources they use and it is important to include a sustainable development overview in more fields of studies at universities. It is also necessary to consider factors like natural and social conditions or infrastructure because these create the bases for further development. As we can see on the examples of mining regions, one-sidedly focused development and economy can cause many problem for future generations if the source is exploited or if needs of society and environment are neglected (one can observe the same in nature – more complex systems are more stabil). To sum up, sustainable development requires a comprehensive attitude and the cooperation of specialists from different areas as well as the public interest because everybody can make some – at least a little - contribution.

Sources

  1. About Zotter: Organic + Fair Trade + Green http://www.zotter.at/en/about-zotter/organic-fair-trade-green.html
  2. Alois Gölles Schnapps Distillery & Vinegar Production http://www.goelles.at/en/ueber_goelles.html
  3. Erlebnishotel "Steirisch Ursprung" http://www.steirischursprung.at/index.php?id=107
  4. Experience the Working of Nature http://www.np-gesaeuse.at/download/aktuelle_folder/NP_Image08_GB_Web.pdf
  5. Statistical Database of Statistics Austria http://sdb.statistik.at/superwebguest/login.do?guest=guest
  6. Abenteuer Erzberg/Adventure Erzberg http://gis.uirs.si/info.asp?type=d
  7. Abenteuer Erzberg http://www.abenteuer-erzberg.at/
  8. Motorcycle event Erzrod http://gis.uirs.si/info.asp?type=d
  9. Erzbergrodeo http://www.erzberg.at/
  10. Museumsverbund Steirische Eisenstrasse Phase I-III / Museal Association Styrian Eisenstraße http://gis.uirs.si/info.asp?type=d
  11. MUSEEN an der EISENSTRASSE http://www.eisenstrassenmuseen.at/sites/mus_st_kam_start.html
  12. Ore mountains - social and economic conditions http://vcsewiki.czp.cuni.cz/wiki/Ore_mountains_-_social_and_economic_conditions