Press release from:
INCA, REC Albania, EDEN, Ekolëvizja, EcoAlbania, Mileukontakt Albania, Association for Organic Agriculture, Institute for Environmental Policies, EPER Center
In the framework of the initiative for the request for a moratorium on the prohibition of granting permits for concessions for HPPs in the territory of Albania, the group “To protect the rivers”, which consists of civil society environmental organizations (INCA, REC Albania, EDEN, Ekolëvizja , EcoAlbania, Mileukontakt Albania, Association for Organic Agriculture, Institute for Environmental Policies, EPER Center), organized today on 16.07.2015, a press conference with the aim of launching this initiative and presenting the purpose and activities of the initiative.
Increasing the use of water for the production of electricity is one of the development trends throughout the region nowadays. According to the 2003 report, of the United Nations World Water Development, 60% of the world’s 227 largest rivers are severely fragmented by dams, diversions and canals built for the purpose of building hydropower plants or using of river waters in agriculture, industry or drinking water supply, leading to the degradation of ecosystems which play an essential role in filtering and providing fresh water sources. Although this form of energy production is classified as a renewable energy source, a staggering number of HPPs (about 499, source AKBN) are planned to negatively impact natural ecosystems, including protected areas of high value, such such as national natural parks. Although these areas are legally protected against hydropower development, there are many examples of HPPs in operation or under construction in national parks (e.g. HPPs in the parks of Shebenik-Jablanica, Valbona, Lura, Bredhi i Hotova, Bênça, etc.) negatively affecting the natural values of these areas until their degradation, values that affect the attraction that these areas offer and the reduction of their visitors.
These important issues that are part of the planning and integrated management of the territory and in particular of the protected natural areas, that attract the attention of the entire public and in particular of those who love the beautiful Albanian nature with its rare values and indescribable, are already hot issues when natural balances are disturbed, when they become sources of community conflicts, when they change the natural course of the river or when they destroy a mountain or hill slope for narrow interests and to the detriment of the development of society.
In order to realize protection and management with pro-environmental criteria and pro-sustainable development, the group “To protect the rivers” has taken the initiative to request a moratorium on the construction of energy works in the rivers of Albania for a period of 3 years. The moratorium is requested first of all for the prohibition of the granting of licenses for concessions for HPPs in the entire territory of the country. This moratorium will serve to analyze the current situation of concessions and the conditions of their implementation in accordance with the legal requirements of the development of the territory as well as the requirements of sustainable environmental development. This initiative will serve to improve the legal framework, the implementation of good practices for concessions and environmental protection, as well as for the integration of European conventions and directives in national strategic documents such as the National Water Strategy, the National Energy Strategy, the Strategic Assessment Environmental for the National General Plan and Sectoral National Plans, the implementation of the law on the integrated management of water resources which is an approximation of the EC water framework directive, etc., documents which are already in their development stages. specifically during the moratorium period, it will be necessary to review, suspend and cancel all licenses granted to date in protected areas and sensitive river areas with high natural potentials with the presence of natural monuments in them. The revision of the hydraulic works on the Vjose River, the HPP of Kalivaci, Lengarica and Bënca are a priority, since the Prime Minister of the country has expressed the government’s commitment to turn the Vjosa River into a National Park.
But not only on the Vjosa river, as there are still concessions that have been granted and have not been implemented and that affect the protected natural areas such as the Valbona river, the Shebenik-Jablanica area, the Korab area, the mountain area of Tomorri, etc. No one says “NO” to the development of society, to the improvement of the living conditions of the community, to the effective use of natural resources, but we say “NO” to the development without criteria that brings catastrophic consequences in the way resources are managed.
 United Nations. World Water Development Report: Water for People, Water for Life. 2003.
 Law No. 8906, dated 6.6.2002 “On Protected Areas”, Law No. 9587, dated 20.07.2006 “On the Protection of Biodiversity”