Katowice cultural area, aerial view

Blog #12: KATOWICE, moving from BLACK to GREEN.

KATOWICE, moving from BLACK to GREEN.

In recent years, Katowice has undergone a huge transformation. Not so long ago, the city stereotyped by many as a symbol of Silesia: the place of heavy industry, coal and steel. The road that Katowice has travelled, becoming the modern capital of a metropolitan area with 2 million inhabitants, is also an example of the transformation that has taken place throughout Poland.

Katowice is the main city of the Upper Silesian metropolitan area and the 11th-most populous city in Poland (about 285.000 inhabitants), while its urban area is the most populous in the country (about 5.3 million) and one of the most populous in the EU. Katowice City as a Local Public Authority provides services in different areas (e.g. education, culture, health care, building and maintaining roads) for citizens which are based on national and local regulations. Katowice City has great experience with international projects which are organised within various subject matters.

Moreover, since 1st of January 2013 an Energy Management Department exists in Katowice City Hall’s organisational structure, which is responsible for i.e. initiating and participating in preparations for programs, pertaining to energy efficiency improvement including utilisation of renewable energy sources, monitoring of effects obtained as a result of its realisation, and educational and informative activities for local residents. Katowice runs a series of actions relating to realisation of projects, investment and educational tasks in terms of energy efficiency improvement and environmental protection.

Transformation of the city

“Warszawa II” tower transformed into an observation platform

For years, the landmark welcoming the visitors to the capital of Silesia, was the coal mine winding tower. And it is still so today. However, the “Warszawa II” tower, visible from afar, has completely different functions. The tower’s second life is an observation deck with a view on the colourful and modern Katowice. Its transformation was an element of revitalisation of the former mine area. The Culture Zone, a unique place not only in Poland, but in the entire Europe, was established in this area. The delightful buildings of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio, the Silesian Museum and the International Congress Centre were built here. The Zone is complemented by Spodek arena, i.e. a sports and entertainment hall referring to the shape of a spacecraft, and modern office buildings: an eye-catching structure of .KTW and the nearby Altus.

It is the Culture Zone that has become the new symbol of Katowice. The city where an extraordinary metamorphosis took place in almost all fields. There wouldn’t have been without the transformation of the residents of Katowice, who fell in love with their city and became its ambassadors. This revival began for good a few years ago during the European Capital of Culture campaign. And it continues. The proud inhabitants of their small homeland are the greatest asset of Katowice. Their involvement activates changes in the capital of the Silesian Voivodeship, one of the best developing cities in Poland.

The Spodek Arena in Katowice

Strategic documents

In April 2019, by resolution of the City Council, Katowice joined the “Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy” (CoM). The Covenant was created in 2008 in Europe with the ambition to gather representatives of local governments that want to voluntarily commit to achieving and exceeding EU climate and energy targets.

The document was adopted by the Katowice City Council of 27 July 2023 on the adoption of the “Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan for the City of Katowice” (SECAP).

The city also has a “Katowice Climate Change Adaptation Plan by 2030”.

The document was developed based on the Agreement between the Mayor of Katowice and the Ministry of the Environment on the implementation of the project titled “Climate Change Adaptation Plans for Cities with over 100,000 Inhabitants” within the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Programme 2014-2020.

The Adaptation Plan was developed in response to one of the most pressing environmental issues – climate change – and the need to adapt to its effects. The Plan outlines a vision, overarching goal, and specific objectives for adapting the City to climate change that should be achieved through the implementation of selected adaptation measures in four most vulnerable sectors/areas of the City: public health/sensitive groups, undeveloped areas, transportation, and water management.

The Plan is a reference for further adaptation measures for the City of Katowice and a basic tool for the development of urban policies aimed at increasing the City’s resilience to the effects of these changes and at strengthening its adaptability. The document constitutes a set of proposals and solutions in the face of threats posed by climate change.

Strategic documents help to chart the course towards climate neutrality. One of the important factors for the success of the plan is social involvement and undertaking innovative projects that will affect the change of awareness. At Climaborough project, we are learning from other cities and looking for a socio-technical solution that will improve the quality of life of its inhabitants. All the tools that the city implements, combined with the involvement of the inhabitants, allow to create a liveable city. We will introduce some of them.


Kato gardeners

KATOcitizen project is a social innovation which consists in building civil society and engaging residents in actions for the sustainable development of the city. The city acts as the initiator here, providing tools and reasons for joint engagement, creating actions and campaigns and launching applications, for example, for reporting and fixing problems or planting trees in places indicated by users. Residents together with the city can sow meadows and build community gardens, clean and practise zero waste, hang nesting boxes and feeders.

Kato gardeners

Social Gardens & KatoGardeners

A dozen social gardens have been created in the city together with its residents as part of the civic action Let’s Make a Bed, as well as from the budget of the Local Initiative and Green Budget, where residents raise funds for their own initiatives. Residents grow perennials, herbs, and vegetables. What is important, however, is that they actively participate in planting gardens, which not only has an ecological character but also a social one: it boosts the integration and health of the local community. As part of the “Let’s Make a Bed” campaign, residents collectively built boxes for plants, benches, pergolas, compost bins with the help of an NGO (City Garden, Beaver Lodge Foundation). The activity was financed under the 2020 Transformative Action Award, which was given to the city for its “KATOcitizen” project aimed at building civil society.

Based on cooperation between residents and experience from joint projects, KatoGardeners group was set up on Facebook, bringing together active residents who want to share experiences, knowledge, as well as tools and crops with other urban gardeners. The group is moderated by the city KatoOgrodnicy | Facebook

To support existing gardens but also to develop this trend in the city, in 2023 city opened the Gardener School. This includes a series of monthly workshop and educational meetings, online advice on KatoGardeners Facebook group, field meetings, the so-called “Flying Gardener School” to develop gardening knowledge, but above all to encourage involvement and integration.  The city’s partner is the Gardens of the Future Foundation.

“Let’s fix it” application

“Let’s fix it” is an application which residents can use to easily identify any defects in the city in three thematic categories: infrastructure, greenery, and safety & security. To date, out of over 33,697 reported problems, more than 27 thousend defects have already been repaired since spring 2018, but apart from efficiency it is equally important to be able to follow or comment on the reported issues and to propose solutions, as well as to ensure direct contact between residents with officials. Innovation in this case, therefore, refers not only to the use of an innovative tool, but to the very formula of cooperation and communication with residents. The app is also largely used by residents of the most degraded districts that have equal access to and easier contact with municipal services (application, e-mail, telephone).

“wCOP tree” application

The application is a simple and quick way to indicate locations for new trees in the city. Its name refers to the world’s largest climate conference, the UN Climate Summit, the 24th edition of which was held in Katowice in 2018. To date, we have planted over 1,000 trees using the application.

Green Budget

Katowice invests in the renewal of existing green enclaves and creation of new ones by engaging residents in these activities. A tool which helps residents fulfil their needs related to broadly understood ecology and environmental protection is the Green Budget, which allows them to turn their ideas into action. Facts (2023): in the four editions, out of 715 applications submitted, a total of 347 tasks were selected for implementation.

In 2023, the City Greenery Department spent a total of PLN 70 million on greening and revitalisation activities, and the largest projects already completed include the brine graduation tower in the Tysiąclecia district and the revitalisation of the Starganiec and Kozubek ponds. Since 2017, the City Greenery Department has planted more than 10,000 trees.

Korfantego avenue

Green projects are not only an investment in aesthetics, but also a fight against the effects of climate change. Removing concrete from Korfantego avenue and new plants translated into natural retention of hundreds of thousands of litres of rainwater, local reduction of urban heat island and better air purification.

Youth education is also important in the city’s activities for sustainable development.

Climate Education

There is no doubt that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. We are increasingly aware of environmental threats such as biodiversity loss, waste production due to overconsumption and the impact of global warming.

Transition to a new green deal will not be possible without appropriate educational policies and a deep social transformation. Education is essential to prepare the society to cope with the climate crisis, which is why the Mayor of Katowice, Marcin Krupa, PhD, established in 2022 a Team for Climate Education Pilot Curriculum to be implemented in local schools in Katowice. The team includes school teachers, academics specialising in this area, local government councillors, and officials. The team developed four main thematic areas of the Katowice’s original programme. These are: criticism of consumerism, biodiversity loss, anthropogenic climate change and, due to the nature of the post-mining Silesian and Zagłębie region, energy transition. The programme features practical activities proposed by the Centre for Environmental Education at the Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz School Complex No. 2 in Katowice – including workshops on nature and field activities.

The programme was created to help young people understand the impact of environmental degradation on their future, to expand their knowledge, awareness and skills in the field of climate education, and above all, to build commitment and a sense of agency to counteract the effects of global warming.

Climaborough, a new opportunity to move towards a better circularity

Within the Climaborough project, the city of Katowice aims to work in the field of the impact of waste and circularity on climate neutrality. The city has identified circularity as a major field to work on to improve the reduction of emissions and to make its landscape greener.

To this end, CLIMABOROUGH represents a unique occasion to exchange with other cities and to improve the exchange of experiences in the field and to detect eventual solutions to test on the ground.