The second local forum in the framework of encouragement of civic environmental law initiative took place in Tepelenë

Following the lobbying and advocacy activity to improve the legislation on HPP concessions in Albania, EcoAlbania continued with the organization of the local forums.

During the meeting with local environmental organizations, environmental experts, representatives of local authoritis in Tepelenë © V. Kabili

During the meeting with local environmental organizations, environmental experts, representatives of local authoritis in Tepelenë © V. Kabili

On 23 June 2018, the second meeting took place in Tepelenë, with participants from local environmental organizations, environmental experts, representatives of the Municipalities of Tepelena and Memaliaj, RDE of  Gjirokastra, representatives of Prefecture of Gjirokastra County, journalists, etc. Environmental and legal policy experts followed up with the draft of the analysis of the plans, strategies and national legislation of the energy, tourism, environment and water sectors, in the spirit of their approximation with EU legislation.

 “No public authority should announce a concession contest without ensuring that the object of the race is in compliance with national plans and strategies,” said E. Tivari, the legal expert, adding that the law should provide guarantees in this regard. Further, she also emphasized the importance of specifying the elements that the concession fees should contain, such as the charge for the use of natural resources by the concession company.

Discussions followed between experts and the local participants © V. Kabili

Discussions followed between experts and the local participants © V. Kabili

Meanwhile, one of the concerns raised by the participants dealt with the future of these hydropower projects after the end of the concession period. According to them, there should be a specific legal provision that forces state authorities to consult with the local community regarding the decision-making on the future of a hydro power plant after the end of the term of  the concession contract.

The Tepelena Forum will be followed by three other round tables to be held in Shkodra, Prrenjas and the national one in Tirana. Recommendations that will come from experts, CSOs and institutions will be reviewed and included in the final draft of recommendations for amendments to concession legislation for HPPs.

This meeting is organized in the framework of the project “ACTIVE II – Community Engagement – Indicator of Integration in Decision-making”, that is being implemented by EcoAlbania in partnership with local NGO’s Alliance of Albanian Alps and Argonaut. It is funded by LëvizAlbania – for a strong local democracy by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – SDC.

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Community Engagement – Indicator of Integration in Decision-making (ACTIVE II)

Title of the Project:  Community Engagement – Indicator of Integration in Decision-making (ACTIVE II)

Project goal: Improve the national legislation regarding the concessions on hydro-power in Albania


Objective 1. Encourage the civil society initiative to improve the legislation on HPPs concessions in Albania.

Objective 2. Lobbying and advocacy at the community, government, legal, legislative and political level to improve the legislation on HPP concessions in Albania.

EcoAlbania is implementing the project ACTIVE II in the frame of  “LevizAlbania” program with the financial support of the Swiss Embassy in Albania.

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The local government joined forces against the hydro-power plants on the Vjosa

++The mayors signed a petition against the hydro-powers ++

Tirana 20.02.2017. For the first time the local Government of the Vjosa Valley in a public reaction stayed against the hydro-power plants. After the local community, national and international NGOs, scientists and the European Parliament this time also the mayors have unified their voice to protect the Vjosa. The mayors of Përmet, Tepelenë, Memaliaj, Mallakastër and Selenicë sent an open letter to the Prime Minister Edi Rama and Head of the Albanian Parliament Ilir Meta raising the concern of the local communities that they represent.


Vjosa river. Photo: B. Guri/EcoAlbania

In a roundtable organized by EcoAlbania, the mayors faced with thesituation where the whole valley of Vjosa is facing threatened be turned into a huge hydro-park, have taken this public initiative asking to the central government to reconsider the plans to build hydropower plants in Vjosë and its tributaries. “We as a local authority were not informed officially about the plans to build the Poçem hydropower and the affected residents were not part of the public consultations,” said Agron Kapllanaj, mayor of Mallakastër.

The local community’s concern on the lack of transparency regarding the Poçem HPP have been raised before on both sides of the river, as well as in the lawsuit filed by the residents and environmental organizations. “The Vjosa case is not just and environmental issue but it has also to do with the functioning of the rule of law and democracy in the country. The residents of the valley are those who should be part of decision-making for such projects that directly affect their lives and their future, “said Olsi Nika, from EcoAlbania.

The Vjosa valley offers a high potential for tourism development and scientific research because of it’s natural integrity. The river is closely related to the daily life of the inhabitants of the area, offering opportunities for the development of agriculture, fisheries and tourism as the main source of future economic development. The Vjosa is a cultural and historical heritage of the country. “We have other plans for the valley – the tourism development. The hydropower construction mines this potential. Tepelena has many natural and historical treasures that must be promoted and developed in a sustainable way, “said Tërmet Peci, the mayor of Tepelena.

Specifically the representatives of the LGU-s of the Vjosa request to the Albanian Government:

  • To re-consider hydropower projects along the Vjosa River and its tributaries
  • To undertake initiatives for cancelation of concessionary contracts related to the construction of hydropower plants along the Vjosa River and its tributaries.
  • To ensure the implementation of mechanisms for community participation in decision-making process as foreseen in the Albanian legislation.
  • Cooperate with the Vjosa valley’s LGU-s and other stakeholders, to explore strategies for sustainable economic development for the area considering development projects that do not affect the integrity of the river and guarantee the protection of our natural heritage.
  • To require full transparency by the Greek Government for the interstate agreements regarding the Vjosa River.

With the support of LëvizAlbania-“the local democracy in action” programe and the Swiss Embassy in Albania, EcoAlbania is working to strengthen the mechanism of the community participation in decision-making.

More information and contact:


Please find the original copy of the letter in Albanian language here.

Olsi Nika | EcoAlbania | [email protected]

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The Swiss ambassador and the head of Council of Europe meet the local people of Kutë

Press release by EcoAlbania

Kutë, Mallakstër, February 15th, 2017. During the open meeting with the local community, organized by EcoAlbania in the Kutë, the Swiss Ambassador in Albania, Mr. Christoph Graf, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Albania, Mr. Claus Neukirch and the expert on issues of direct democracy, Mr. Andreas Gross, together with the Mayor, Mr. Agron Kapllanaj, were interested in the initiative taken by the Government regarding the construction of Poçem hydropower plant.


Foto: B. Guri/ EcoAlbania

The Vjosa case is a complex issue that involves not only environmental problematics but also to the functioning of democracy and the rule of law” stressed Olsi Nika, Executive Director of EcoAlbania. He also highlighted the lack of transparency throughout the procedure followed so far by the Albanian government by not informing the affected community and denying the right to be part of decision-making process.

During the conversation with the diplomats, the local people stayed against the construction of hydropower. According to them, its construction could cause flooding of agricultural land they have as the basis for their living.

Agricultural land is the only asset which we can feed our families” – said the residents. They said unanimously that the hydropower plant means inevitable migration from the land of their ancestors, something they were determined not to accept.

We live here for centuries and here we have the graves of our ancestors. The destruction of our lands and environmental catastrophe that our government is preparing, is unacceptable “- said Dilaver Murataj, resident of the village Kutë.

Moreover, they claimed that the plan to build the power plant was never consulted with them. In addition no one had submitted a project, nobody had organized a public meeting or debate, either from central government or by companies interested in the construction of HPP. This was also confirmed by the mayor Mallakastra, while in his speech, he pointed declared: “As local government, we have never officially been notified regarding the construction of Poçemi HPP. What we have done so far is that we have officially forwarded to the central government in Tirana, the community concerns regarding this project, but have not yet received any response

In his speech Ambassador Graff, he was surprised of the fact that residents have no information about Poçem HPP and encouraged them to use all democratic means in order to make their voices heard.

After the meeting in Kutë, participants visited the Poçem Bridge on the Vjosa River, where potentially the dam of the hydropower is planned to be built. Representatives of EcoAlbania explained to them the environmental impact that will have the construction of the hydropower plant on the Vjosa River, which is considered rare in the European continent due to its high natural integrity.

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