The meeting of Friends of Vjosa

The annual meeting of Friends of Vjosa brought together old and new friends again. Since March, when the last meeting was held, “a lot of water has flowed in Vjosa” and there have been many developments related to our efforts to protect it. On the other hand, there have been developments in the opposite direction, where plans for the construction of HPPs in the valley have been revived.

The main topic of the meeting was the discussion about the recent signing of the concession contract for the Kalivaç HPP. Journalists, students, lawyers, professors and activists from civil society organizations exchanged information, discussed what is currently happening in Vjosa, but also in other rivers where hydropower plants are planned to be built, as well as put forth new ideas for a even more stable cooperation for the protection of Vjosa in the future.

Among the most important developments discussed at the meeting were:

  1. The follow-up of studies in Vjosa: The Study of the Vjosa Sediments, carried out by researchers from Austria’s BOKU University in UP Tirana, is expected to be published in the fall. Two other studies planned to be carried out are the evaluation of alternatives, the loss-profit ratio (where the losses from the construction of HPPs in Vjosa will be evaluated, compared to the potential that the river has for sustainable development through tourism), as and the study for the Balkan region, which will identify, among other things, the areas where HPPs should not be built (No-Go zones).
  2. The screening of the film “Blue Heart”, made by Patagonia, which also deals with the fight for the protection of Vjosa, on May 6 in Tirana and then in the valley of Vjosa. The film continues to be screened all over the world and was recently screened at the European Parliament.
  3. The visit of the Berne Convention to Vjosë, to carry out an “on-the-spot assessment” of the situation and to investigate to what extent plans for the development of hydropower plants are jeopardizing the objectives of the Convention.
  4. The signing of the concession contract for HEC Kalivaç as well as the plans for 4 hydropower plants planned in Shushica, while the public consultation with the local community was not carried out according to the requirements of the law.

The most acute danger for Vjosa is currently the Kalivaçi hydropower plant. EcoAlbania shared with Vjosa’s friends the steps that will be taken in the future to oppose its construction, such as complaining to the EU Energy Community up to a second court process (after the one for the Pocem HPP), where the invalidity of the concession contract for the Kalivaci HPP is requested.

One of the ideas that arose in the meeting, related to the intensification of the efforts to protect Vjosa, was the creation of a group of journalists and activists from different fields who, through their writings and research, make people understand more about the issue of hydropower plants. in Vjosa, it is not only an environmental issue, but also an economic, social and cultural issue at the same time.

The meetings of Vjosa’s friends are regular meetings that will continue to take place in the coming months, hoping that this network will expand even more. To join the next meetings you can contact us at:  [email protected].