5 to 12 in river protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Let's make a Big Jump into them before it gets too late

8.7.2020 - BANJA LUKA

Dozens of swimming events will take place on July 12th across Bosnia-Herzegovina to celebrate the beauty of rivers and to sound the alert about the destructive hydropower plant boom. As a part of the international Big Jump initiative [1], the Coalition for Protection of the Rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina is seeking to draw attention to the exploitation of the natural environment in the country. “Rivers are in danger and need effective protection or we will lose them for good,” they say. More than 400 hydropower plants are projected in the country.

People in Bosnia and Herzegovina will dive into 16 rivers and three lakes across the country on July 12th 2020. On most of them, hydropower plants are planned or already exist. The official event will start at 11.55 a.m. precisely to symbolize the ‘eleventh hour’ of the current state of river protection.

“At the Dr. Stjepan Bolkay Centre, as well as in the Coalition for Rivers, we firmly believe that the story of river protection is not just a story of protests, corrupted government, and dirty money, it is also a story of love, laughter, sport, and countless beautiful get-togethers next to rivers," states biologist Saudin Merdan, a member of the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers and president of the Dr. Stjepan Bolkay Centre organization. “As an event, Big Jump aims to elevate these stories and remind us of the close connections between rivers and different communities and why we work hard at protecting and restoring them. Rivers are not a tradable product, but a legacy that we must preserve and defend for future generations,” he adds.

The events are co-organized by Arnika, a Prague-based NGO which has held Big Jump in the Czech Republic in the past. “In recent days we have witnessed a great success for all the activists united in the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, when the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina [2] voted to ban the construction of new hydropower plants [3],” comments Zuzana Vachůnová from Arnika. “The Big Jump event can be seen as a well-deserved celebration, as well as a call for a similar ban in the remaining part of the country – the Republika Srpska – and appeal to the federal government to transform the Parliament's resolution into concrete action,” Vachůnová believes.

People in Bosnia and Herzegovina who agree with the initiative are more than welcome to join this event as individuals or with their families or friends at one of the listed places or a place of their own choice to support the idea of protecting the rivers from becoming nothing but the subject of business and to save and enjoy them instead.

A full list of locations where the Big Jump will be held on July 12th at 11.55 a.m. can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1509673169233447.

Big Jump BiH 12.7.2020 map of locations

[1] On the European level, the Big Jump event is coordinated by the European Rivers Network. This year, the official event is cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but individual actions are left for consideration by local groups according to local restrictions.

[2] Bosnia and Herzegovina is formed of two constitutional “entities” established on ethnic principles – the Republika Srpska (a Serbian entity) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (a Bosniak-Croat entity). The central government ties both of them together in a fragile state. A vote of the Parliament of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is binding only for the state authorities in the respective part of the country and also has limited power over cantons – relatively independent administrative units of the Federation with their own governments and ministries.

[3] See the full Declaration for the Protection of Western Balkans Rivers here.

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