Press release by EcoAlbania
A big number of actors for the protection of Vjosa came together today in a conference organized by EcoAlbania in Tirana, where they discussed the problematic of hydro-powers construction in Vjosa and the importance of affected communities participation in the decision-making process. Up to now the journey for the protection of Vjosa has been quite long and have included a lot of important supporters which have contributed for Vjosa’s case to be one of the most important environmental cases today in Albania and not only.
The Administrative Court of the First Instance’s victory at this moment is one of the most positive results that could be expected from the community, NGOs and the public. Though, efforts for Vjosa’s protection as a whole ecosystem remain a challenge. Now, Vjosa flows freely on its riverbed of 270 km, uninterrupted form human’s intervention. “From our time-to-time investigations we have a total amount of 33 hydro-powers, but from the very last information that we have been able to obtain this number has raised to 42, a number that is in constant growth”, – said Olsi Nika, EcoAlbania’s Executive Director. Even though in “Protecting the Vjosa river and future challenges” conference’s focus was the discussion on perspectives for a different development of the valley, the most important decision-making institutions were not part of the discussion.“You have been able to promote a good cause and have set in motion a process of institutional functioning, something that is new and rare and I want to congratulate EcoAlbania for introducing a new way of action for the civil society in Albania”, said Debora Kern, director of the local government, Swiss Embassy in Albania.
Efforts for the protection of Vjosa and inclusion of the affected communities from hydro-powers will continue utilizing power the law gives to the citizens and organizations of civil society in this common battle. “We have supported from its beginning the initiative for the protection of Vjosa because in the core of this problematic stays the regard of community’s rights as a very important actor for strengthening local democracy. On the other side, environment is one of our priorities that we have been supporting and will be supporting in the future as well”, said Valbona Kuko, Executive Director of LëvizAlbania.
A very important voice in this discussion was the voice of the environment, law, geology and media experts which emphasized once more the importance of this multidimensional matter. The Lawyer Vladimir Meci, which represents in court the citizens and NGOs in the battle against Poçem hydropower stated “It is the moment to create a group of experts from different fields like in this conference, creating stable bridges of communication to avoid environment’s abuse and to feed the topic of punishment in our country”.
The representatives of the Vjosa’s valley community that participated in this conference stated that they will continue peaceful protests and legal battles until the final annulment of hydro-powers in Vjosa.
This conference was organized under the AKTIV (Community Engagement – Indicator of Integration in Decision-making) project and is funded by LëvizAlbania –for a strong local democracy from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – SDC.