Towards a climate neutral EU:
efficient allocation of EU funds

"Concreteosis" - revitalisation of Polish towns

Organisation: Institute for Sustainable Development - Foundation Website: Added: October 03, 2023
Project start date: May 05, 2019
Project end date: October 31, 2021


As part of revitalization projects co-financed by EU funds, the centres of many Polish cities and towns have been stripped of trees and greenery and literally filled with concrete. This phenomenon, often referred to by journalists and urban activists as "concreteosis", is unfortunately common in Poland and has permanently changed the appearance of central urban spaces and, consequently, the quality of life of local communities. The lack of thoughtful planning of revitalization activities is also harmful from the point of view of adaptation to the effects of climate change. Concrete space, devoid of vegetation and darkened places, contributes, among others, to: to the creation of an urban heat island, intensifying heat waves and increases the risk of flash flood. One of the most famous examples of revitalization is the city of Leżajsk, located in the Podkarpackie Voivodeship. The market square there was turned into a concrete desert - old trees and bushes were cut down, lawns were removed, and the entire market square was paved with granite slabs and paving stones. The implementation of this investment was criticized by activists, but also by residents who are reluctant to use the new space in the summer due to the lack of shaded places. The controversial investment in Leżajsk was widely commented on in the Polish media and received a reaction from the European Commission. “From this financial perspective, EU funds will not support climate-unfriendly revitalization of Polish cities and towns,” the EC Directorate-General announced on Twitter in July 2022, at the same time recalling the partnership agreement between the Commission and Poland, including, among others, Polish investment strategy under cohesion policy for 2021-2027. Unfortunately, the revitalized market square in Leżajsk is just one of many examples that illustrate how, with the help of EU funds, local authorities are concreting the markets of Polish cities and towns. Similar investments have been implemented, among others: in Kutno, Rzepin, Kielce, Bartoszyce, Kraków, Skierniewice, Kruszwica, Parczew and many other Polish cities.

Financial data

The change in the development of the public space of the Market Square together with the Square of Father Stanisław Lubas in Leżajsk was part of the project "Comprehensive revitalization of urban space in Leżajsk", the cost of which amounted to PLN 14,215,533.51 (about EUR 3,306,860.87), EU fund contribution: PLN 7,714,661.50 (about EUR 1,794,608.146).


The way revitalization is carried out by the authorities of Polish cities and towns should be regulated from above, e.g. in the form of a catalogue of acceptable, pro-ecological solutions. Local authorities, representatives of institutions responsible for investments and urban space designers should increase awareness of, for example, the effects of climate change and the need to adapt to them. High temperatures in cities during heatwaves are associated with increased mortality and exacerbated health problems, especially among vulnerable groups such as the elderly and children. The task of revitalization projects should also be to improve rainwater management in the city, allowing for water retention, storage and release at the right time, e.g. during drought or heatwaves.

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Other info

European Climate Initiative (EUKI)
This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The EUKI competition for project ideas is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.