On Wednesday evening, Maida Bilal received the renowned 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize on behalf of the “brave women of Kruščica”. The prize is endowed with 200,000 USD. The Jury justified their decision on the grounds that hydropower is not green, and is one of the greatest threats to wild rivers and the people living along their banks. Maida Bilal and the other women fought for one of the last free-flowing rivers in Europe - and won.
From May 29 to June 6, a science delegation from Austria, Albania, Italy and Germany collects multidisciplinary data from the two major Vjosa tributaries Shushica and Bënça. This research week is a follow-up of a comparable undertaking at the Vjosa in 2017, which contributed substantially to our success in establishing the ecological value of the Vjosa, fending off the hydropower projects (HPP) and which led to the designation as a protected area.
The election may be over, but the fight for the Vjosa is not. Over the last several months, support for the Vjosa has grown tremendously in Albania, other European countries, and around the world. As a result of campaigning, Edi Rama’s government agreed to a low-level ‘nature park’ protection for the Vjosa in March - which is a good first step.
We are happy to present the Legal Toolkit which provides guidance to activists and civil society organisations in navigating the possibilities for legal actions in river protection. The toolkit will be presented on 29 April (2-4 pm CET) in a webinar. We will be happy to answer your questions and receive feedback on the toolkit.
This baseline survey summarises the value of the Vjosa River system as one of the few remaining reference sites for dynamic floodplains in Europe on the one hand, and reveals the detrimental effects dams could have on the river system on the other. Only one dam will significantly destroy the ecological continuum of a pristine river.
On March 25, the European Parliament adopted the 2021 Albanian Progress Report in which they “urge the [Albanian] government to minimise the impact on biodiversity by stopping hydropower development in protected areas, in particular in areas near the Valbona and Vjosa rivers, and to establish as soon as possible the Vjosa National Park, extending the whole length of the river...”
In our next Blue Heart webinar on Thursday, 29 April (14-16:00), we will be presenting our Legal Toolkit for the protection of rivers. Together with our partners from Wetlands International Europe and ClientEarth, the Blue Heart team invite you to share and discuss your experiences and questions regarding legal steps taken against hydropower projects! REGISTER HERE
On the occasion of this year’s World Water Day, today, several NGO’s released a series of photos capturing the words Vjosa National Park Now cloaking the foreground of globally recognised monuments in Paris, Berlin, Brussels, and Tirana. The activists behind the visual action are targeting the attention of European and Albanian politicians, urging them to declare the Vjosa in Albania Europe’s first Wild River National Park.
Most recently, ten Alternative Nobel Prize winners - including the renowned Prof. em. Dr. Michael Succow - addressed and signed an open letter to the several leading Albanian politicians and EU representatives, urging them to protect the Vjosa River and begin preparations to establish it as Europe’s first Wild River National Park.
'Vjosa Forever' chronicles the ongoing struggle to secure the future of the unique Vjosa river system, from political uncertainty and opportunistic greed to the hopes of creating a Vjosa National Park (the first of its kind in Europe). With an Albanian election in April of 2021, we fear that this ‘Queen of Europe’ faces its greatest danger yet. At this historic moment, people everywhere have an obligation to speak for the Vjosa; to keep it running wild, forever.