The summer meeting of Friends of Vjosa that was held on June 28 brought together again old and new friends. Since March, when the last meeting was held, “much water has flowed in Vjosa” and many new things have occurred, linked with our efforts to protect it. On the other hand, there have been developments in the opposite direction, where plans for the construction of the HPPs in the valley are revitalized.
The headline of the meeting was the discussion on the recent signing of the concession contract for Kalivaç HPP. Journalists, students, lawyers, professors and activists from civil society organizations discussed what is currently happening in Vjosa, and other rivers threatened by HPFriends of VjosaPs exchanged information and new ideas for an even more sustainable co-operation for Vjosa’s protection in the future.
Among the most important developments discussed at the meeting were:
The continuation of studies in Vjosa: A study of the Vjosa Sediments is expected to be published in Autumn, conducted by researchers at BOKU University in Austria and PU of Tirana. Two other studies planned to be carried out are those of alternative assessment, the loss-profit ratio (where the losses from the construction of the HPPs in Vjosa will be assessed, compared to the potential of the river for sustainable development through tourism), and the study for the Balkan region, which will identify, among others, areas where HPPs shouldn’t be built (No-Go zones).
- The screening of the “Blue Heart” movie, conducted by Patagonia, which also tells the story for the protection of Vjosa, on May 6, in Tirana and then in the Vjosa Valley. The film continues to screen all over the world and recently was screened in the European Parliament.
- The visit of the Bern Convention in Vjosa to carry out a “on-site appraisal” of the situation and to investigate to what extent plans for the development of HPPs are putting at risk the objectives of the Convention.
- The signing the concession contract for Kalivaç HPP as well as the plans for 4 HPPs planned in Shushicë, while public consultation with the local community was not carried out according to the law requirements.
The most acute risk for Vjosa is Kalivaç HPP. EcoAlbania shared with friends of Vjosa the steps to be taken in the future against its construction, such as the complaint to the EU Energy Community and a second judicial process (after that of Poçem), to require the invalidity of the concession contract for Kalivaç HPP.
One of the ideas that arose at the meeting about the intensification of Vjosa’s protection efforts was the creation of a group of journalists and activists from different fields who through their writings and research would make people further understand that the problem of HPPs in Vjosa is not only environmental but also economic, social and cultural issue at the same time.
Friends of Vjosa meetings will continue to take place in the coming months, hoping to expand the network even further. To become part of the next meeting you can contact us at: [email protected].