A joint Declaration on the Protection of the Western Balkans Rivers has been adopted by participants of an International River Conference and several other environmental groups from Western Balkan and European countries. The signatories demand a moratorium on hydropower plants construction until the governments can ensure protection of environment and local communities and compliance with national law, EU legislation and international conventions.
The conference was organised in Sarajevo on 27th – 29th November by Arnika (Czech Republic), the Center for Environment (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and WWF Adria thanks to financial support of the European Union, the Transition Promotion Programme of the Czech Republic, Global Greengrants Fund and the Heinrich-Böll Stiftung.
Organizers of the conference will be delivered the Declaration to the Western Bakan governments, public authorities, relevant national and international institutions with a request to conduct a revision of all strategic documents that affect the sustainable management of Western Balkans rivers and they hope for an open and sincere discussion.
“The Declaration reflects the views of the participants of the conference as well as many organizations, communities and individuals who request to suspend the construction of small hydropower plants and to eliminate subsidies for these projects, because the benefits are on the side of the individuals while the damage suffered by local communities and nature,” commented Viktor Bjelić. “It is a clear sign that more and more people are concerned by extensive and non-transparent construction of hydropower plants in the Western Balkans and demand to save the pristine rivers and support their traditional and sustainable use instead.”
The Western Balkans suffers from a highly disputable boom of small hydropower plants. Over 300 unnecessary dams are planned to block 244 rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina alone and up to 2,700 in the West Balkan region. According to civil societies’ findings, majority of siad project hasn’t been properly announced and democratically discussed with the public and fail to comply with environmental standards.