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GeoJournal

, Volume 55, Issue 2–4, pp 485–505 | Cite as

Environmental problems and policies in East Central Europe: A changing agenda

  • David Turnock
Article

Abstract

Considerable environmental damage occurred during the socialist era as a consequence of the rapid rate of economic growth with low priority for the quality of life. High levels of air and water pollution impacted negatively on human health as well as the physical environment. The rural areas did not escape because of soil and forest degradation, while open pit mining and associated tipping devastated large areas of countryside especially in former Czechoslovakia and East Germany. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster proved to be a turning point since public opinion was mobilised to the point that underground movements began to lobby for improvements and environmental quality became a factor in system change in 1989. Much has been achieved over the past decade, thanks in part to expertise and financial help from abroad, and the priority currently being given to membership of the European Union means that all the requirements of the environmental 'acquis' must be met over the medium term. However, the 1990s have also introduced the sustainability agenda and current challenges are much more extensive that those of the past. While many obligations now carry the full force of law, it is also evident that sustainability is a matter for interpretation nationally and locally in the light of economic pressures and cultural values, moderated through the education process and negotiation with both statutory bodies and environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs). This paper therefore serves as a context for the more local studies that follow.

education environmental policy European Union health pollution non-governmental organisations (NGOs) quality of life sustainability 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Turnock
    • 1
  1. 1.Geography DepartmentThe University, LeicesterU.K.

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