Dr. Bedrich Moldan
Charles University Environmental Center
It is crucially important that the goals of environmental policy – and indeed biopolitics, are identified and properly set. I am very grateful to Dr. Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis for having organised this Hellenic-Czech Cultural Sympo- sium, where we have had the opportunity to hear many excellent presentations that have contributed substantially to the precise formulation of these goals. I am also very happy to hear that Dr. Vlavianos-Arvanitis has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and I would like to express our full support of this nomination.
I would not like to attempt to elaborate further on the issue of goals, as I feel that everything important has already been said. Rather, I think that it is appropriate at this stage, to focus on the very pragmatic issue of the implementation of these ideas.
The place to implement the noble goals of biopolitics is naturally in society. To succeed, the bio-approach must be embedded into the daily life of all sectors of society. It must be reflected within the countless decisions made every day, every hour by countless players within society. We are speaking not only about governments and citizens, but also about numerous other subjects, such as the private sector, communities, and all kinds of groups large and small.
The societal decision-making process could be described by means of the Decision-Making Cycle that is typical of free democratic societies. Different processes can be identified during individual stages of the cycle when specific elements must be implemented. A crucial role is played by information at all stages, although its specific use at each stage is different and a different set of players have the key role. Let us start with problem identification. The key role here is played by intellectuals, scientists, and environmentally-conscious groups such as active NGOs. We can call these groups pathfinders. The Biopolitics International Organisation is an excellent example of such a pathfinder.
The necessary information used at this stage is very detailed, and of a very high scientific or philosophical calibre. As a result, it may not be readily accepted by the general public. However, at this stage, this is not a necessary prerequisite.
On the contrary, public participation is essential for the next step: the setting of goals. I see the task of the pathfinders’ group not only in the precise, articulate translation of identified problems into clear goals and objectives, but also in persuading fellow citizens and in creating a societal critical mass. The information necessary here is not only detailed and precise scientific data, but also clear, simple and persuasive facts of a general nature.
The next step is policy formulation. Here, top decision makers, governments and parliaments play an essential role. They need to follow the wishes of the society and formulate implementable policies. For this, different instruments are available: command and control, economic elements and information. Laws are also an essential part of this step.
In the next step, implementation, the whole of society must be involved including the private sector. Here again the role of NGOs and other active groups is very important, and every kind of information is necessary.
In the last step, the evaluation of formulated policies, public participation is absolutely essential. Formulated policies should be evaluated on two different levels:
- whether they were implemented;
- whether they brought the expected benefits.
The evaluation step is essentially a feedback step, which should eventually lead to the identification of new problems. A deep involvement of the public is essential within most steps. The importance of education is beyond any doubt. Naturally, without proper education it is impossible to have not only an environmentally conscious society, but any democratic society at all.
Let me now briefly analyse the present situation in the Czech Republic. Our society is in the process of deep transition from an oppressive, centrally planned regime towards an open, democratic, free market situation. Some people insist that the process is essentially completed, but I do not believe that. We have indeed changed most of the laws and other rules, but the most essential and most difficult task, the transition of the people, and the transition in their thinking, is far from being completed.
In conclusion, I would like to briefly analyse the decision-making cycle as it applies to my country:
- problems are well known;
- the setting of goals is the most difficult, as well as the most critical step. There are too many goals for a society in transition, and some extremely tough competition has arisen within it;
- policy formulation is, again, very difficult. For example, no written environ- mental policy document of the government has yet been accepted;
- implementation is vague, since a bad communist tradition is a major obstacle;
- as far as evaluation is concerned, methods are not even available.
Dr. Bedrich Moldan, first Minister for the Environment appointed in the Czech Republic, graduated from Charles University with a degree in Chemistry. He currently holds the position of Director of the Centre for the Environment at Charles University. Dr. Moldan has spent many years working with the Geological Survey of Prague. Involved in international environmental diplomacy, Bedrich Moldan took part in preparations for the 1992 UN Conference on the Environment and Development which took place in Rio de Janeiro. He was elected Vice-Chairman of Sustainable Development. His special interests include chemistry, geochemistry and biochemistry.