“It seems to me like a joint conference on our world”
(Zdeněk Neubauer during one of his visits to a talk during Olomouc Ecology Days)
Olomouc Ecology Days are an environmental festival that has been held annually in Olomouc at the end of April and the beginning of May since 1992. The festival was first held in 1990. Over the years the Olomouc Ecology Days festival has gradually become one of the most important events in the Czech Republic for the general public aimed at promoting environmental protection (along with the It’s Up to You, Too film festival in Uherské Hradiště and the Ekofilm festival). Relatively modest budgets have produced large events with a broad range of programs that have drawn over 20,000 people in recent years. It is gratifying for organisers that the Olomouc Ecology Days festival already attracts visitors from all over the country and even Slovakia. The festival is prepared by the employees of Sluňákov, the Olomouc Centre for Ecological Activities, along with significant help from Sluňákov volunteers; without the assistance of these individuals the event would not be possible. An increasing number of non-government organisations are taking part in the Olomouc Ecology Days festival, and many of these groups work directly on the festival’s program.
As a matter of principle the festival does not promote any specific political or ideological leaning and rejects the typical right-left perception of the global problems of humanity. The festival’s programs do not attempt to solve problems; instead, they draw attention to these problems on the basis of different opinions with the goal of increasing knowledge and improving skills for leading discussions aimed at providing help where it is needed.
The Olomouc Ecology Days festival strives to supplement the direct actions of the environmental movement. The festival is intended to increase public interest in environmental protection issues and to provide citizens with suggestions for personal behaviour that is more environmentally friendly. At all events, especially the Eco Market, people receive a great deal of important information on the condition of the local, national and even global environment.
The festival is open to the greatest extent to “non-green communities” and the program extends into other areas of interest. In this way the festival is able to address a broad spectrum of citizens whose interests are not otherwise focussed on environmental protection. For this reason subjects that are purely ecological are mainly presented through culture, philosophy, sociology, psychology and other fields related to ecology. In this way the festival enriches practical and “technical” environmental protection with other dimensions.
The Olomouc Ecology Days festival is a gathering of non-governmental environmental movements from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and abroad. The public discovers that the label “green” encompasses many organisations with a wide range of opinions and interests, but with a common goal; individuals are free to choose their own attitude to each of these groups.
The festival fosters a tolerant civil dialogue on serious subjects tied to the global ecological crisis. The opportunity for citizens, non-governmental organisations and public institutions to exchange opinions is an extremely valuable contribution to this dialogue. The festival promotes the creation of a civil democratic society.
The Olomouc Ecology Days festival was ranked number one in the Ekotip 93 survey conducted by the Olomouc Green Circle as the most important environmental protection event in the Olomouc and Přerov districts. The festival enjoys substantial coverage in the local and national media. In 1995 the public affairs program “Debate” was carried live on the Czech TV 1 channel. In 1996 a program entitled “The Wisdom of Man and the Wisdom of Nature – A Look Back at the Olomouc Ecology Days Festival” was taped for Czech Radio 2. In 1996 the festival was awarded PHARE support for its first place finish in the “Raising Public Environmental Awareness” category. In 1988 the Olomouc Ecology Days festival and the activities of SEV Sluňákov were awarded first prize in the “Haná Region for an Environment with Human Activity” survey in the Prostějov, Přerov and Olomouc districts. In 1998 the firm Kabel Plus filmed a documentary on the Eco Market entitled “May Day in Olomouc”. In 2000 Radio Free Europe aired a report on the Olomouc Ecology Days festival and the other activities of Sluňákov. “On the Edge,” a forum for young viewers on the subject of globalization and the concept of sustainable life, was filmed at the festival and broadcast on the Czech TV 1 channel in the same year.
Over the years all Czech ministers of the environment have attended the Olomouc Ecology Days festival: Josef Vavroušek, Miroslav Macek, Ivan Dejmal, Bedřich Moldan, Jiří Skalický, Martin Bursík, Miloš Kužvart and Libor Ambrozek.