Nataša Crnković, Center for Environment: "Center for Environment, for more than 12 years, has been against building new hydropower plants. We support citizens from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina that are fighting for the cause in their local communities. By founding the Coalition, we want to solve the problem of the little thoughout out construction of hydropower plants from the start. We want the voices of people, experts, and NGOs to be heard so that new hydropower plants are not welcome.”
More than 300 projects of hydropower plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina threaten to destroy all of our rivers, so we need a common approach at the national level in order to more effectively campaign against these projects. Thus year in June, we started The Coalition for River Protection which gathers organizations and individuals that fight against this problem.
Jelena Ivanić, Center for Environment: "There are many examples where hydropower plants brought nothing but damage and where the local community is against the plant, but they are still being built like the current construction of the hydropower plant, Medna, on the Sana river. The coalition will support local communities who want to get involved in the decision making and establish a common attitude about hydropower plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina.“
There are numerous positive examples from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the most successful campaigns that managed to save the rivers or part of them are Sutjeska, Hrčavka, Vrbas, Neretva, Ljuta, Buna, Una, Unac, Željeznica.
Robert Oroz, Ekolological-humanitarian organization Gotuša: "Our fight against hydropower plants on the river Željeznica in Fojnica has lasted over 10 years. The biggest fight was in the canyon of the river Željeznica, in the village Gotuša. We stopped the entry of machines in the riverbed with our own bodies. 325 days and nights we were there in shifts so we could alarm local community and other activists to prevent works together. Also, with legal action, we stopped the projects."
Beside environmental organizations, in the Coalition we appreciate organizations and individuals that show how rivers can be used sustainably with minimal effects on the environment and benefits to the local community.
Nikola Stanković, Kayak canoe club Vrbas: “Banjaluka became the World Kayak Center. It has been listed in the calender of competitions of the World Kayak Federation. Because of manifestation of sports on Vrbas, Banjaluka is visited by more than 300 sportsmen, and there are more than 4000 nights spent in the hotels. Besides the fact that the tradition of kayaks has lasted more than 70 years, there is also boating on Vrbas. This is one of the symbols of the city. There are many other potentials directly connected with Vrbas and its river basin. It would be a huge tragedy if the hydropower plants destroy the sport and touristic potentials."
The Coalition adopted the phrase,"The declaration of suspension of plans for building of hydropower plants and ecological use of rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina." In the next period, the coalition will act towards institutions, media, investors, and public. The focus will be rivers that are the most endangered with the plans of hydropower plants.