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 1,500 people from 37 villages signed the pipe petition when it toured through the valley © Geri Bleta

Last Saturday, representatives of the communities of the Shushica river valley and other locals from Vlora and Vjosa valley travelled to Tirana to hand over a special petition to Prime Minister Edi Rama. People from 37 villages in the valley have united in a powerful statement against the water abstraction project from the Shushica River.

The Vjosa and the neighbouring deltas of the Shkumini and Semani rivers in Albania constitute the last large intact deltas in the Mediterranean Basin. © Joshua D. Lim

From 22 to 28 April 2024, a science delegation from Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, and Italy collected multidisciplinary data in the partially undiscovered and intact Vjosa Delta. Every observation of this expedition aims to unveil the ecological importance of this area and advocate for its inclusion in the Vjosa Wild River National Park (WRNP) in accordance with IUCN standards.

150 people, including the mayors of 12 municipalities in the Shushica Valley, protested today against the diversion of water from the Vjosa National Park © Josh David Lim 

12 mayors and numerous other residents of the Shushica Valley and other regions of the Vjosa National Park, activists, lawyers and scientists gathered this morning in the village of Kuç on the banks of the Shushica River. They are protesting the plans of the government in Tirana to take the water from the Shushica and channel it to the Mediterranean

Prime Minister Edi Rama, Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert, and Minister for Tourism and Environment Mirela Kumbaro signed official declaration of Vjosa Wild River National Park © Anika Konsek

At a formal ceremony in Tepelena this morning, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and his Minister of the Environment and Tourism Mirela Kumbaro declared the River Vjosa a Wild River National Park. As from today, the entire River Vjosa in Albania from its border with Greece to the Adriatic sea and its free flowing tributaries – a river system totalling more than 400 kilometres in length – have the very high level of protection.

The two young activists who have been targeted with the SLAPP case Sunčica Kovačević  and Sara Tuševljak © Fondacije Atelje za društvene promjene - ACT

Belgian-based company Green Invest and its subsidiary in BiH, BUK d.o.o filed defamation lawsuits against two young Bosnian female activists, who have spoken out publicly about the environmental impact of the hydropower plants on the Kasindolska river. Today, 140 organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, numerous  European countries and USA sent an open letter to the diplomatic representatives of Belgium and the Head of EU Delegation in BiH.

Maida Bilal received the award on behalf of the all the brave women of Kruščica. © Goldman Prize

On Wednesday evening, Maida Bilal received the renowned 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize on behalf of the “brave women of Kruščica”. The prize is endowed with 200,000 USD.  The Jury justified their decision on the grounds that hydropower is not green, and is one of the greatest threats to wild rivers and the people living along their banks. Maida Bilal and the other women fought for one of the last free-flowing rivers in Europe - and won.

We call on the Albanian government to act on their promise and create the Vjosa Wild River National Park © Gregor Subic

Today, February 10th, 20 Albanian environmental organisations submitted a detailed proposal for the creation of the Vjosa National Park to the Minister of Tourism and Environment. The group of NGOs feel compelled to take this step since Albanian government representatives have been announcing the national park for months, but have not taken any steps towards its implementation.

The Ugar in Bosnia-Herzegovina was a pristine mountain river where large Huchen spawned every spring. Now, two Kelag power plants drain most of the water and the Huchen are gone. © Amel Emric

The Austrian Kelag likes to present itself as a modern company with the highest environmental and social standards. However, reality paints a quite different picture: the Kelag is a problematic company in the Balkans. For years, environmental organizations and local residents have been protesting against its hydropower projects and the behavior of its employees, especially in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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