First European Rivers Summit held in Sarajevo

++ 250 people attend Summit to save Europe’s rivers and stop the damming ++ Participants call upon EU and Heads of State to stop funding hydropower ++

This was the first summit of this kind. The next European Rivers Summit will be held in Portugal in 2020. © Luka Tomac, Flying Pangolin Film

Sarajevo. Between September 27th and 29th, Sarajevo became the center of European river conservationists and dam opponents. At the first European Rivers Summit, about 250 people from over 30 countries discussed how to stop the destruction of Europe’s rivers from hydropower, how to protect the last free-flowing river jewels in the long run and how to restore those already destroyed (a full list of topics can be found in the Summit Program).

Participants formulated a list of demands addressed to relevant decision makers in politics and industry. In this declaration, Europe’s river conservationists call upon the European Commission, the Energy Community, international banks and national governments to stop promoting and funding hydropower projects as green and renewable energy source and tighten environmental criteria. These demands aim to help the successful implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive in order to bring rivers back to a good ecological state by 2027.

Today, rivers are the most threatened habitats on Earth. 81% of global freshwater wildlife populations have been lost - higher than in any other ecosystem. According to the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) European waterways are degraded to a point where they can no longer sustain functioning ecosystems. The main threat to river’s health is the massive expansion of hydropower, boosted by the green myth and funding methods such as feed-in tariffs.  In EU, 25,000 hydropower plants are registered, according to the European Environment Agency. This figure does not even include small hydropower plants – the actual figure is therefore much larger. Almost two thirds of European rivers are in a bad ecological state.

“We have to stop the dam craze. Europe’s rivers have long paid for our energy-hungry lifestyle with their integrity. The last intact rivers must remain free-flowing“, says Ulrich Eichelmann, CEO of Riverwatch.

Hydropower plants not only fundamentally destroy the biodiversity of riverine habitats but also turn a dynamic river into a monotonous stagnant waterbody. Moreover, hydropower is not even a carbon-neutral source of energy as dam reservoirs are a major source of greenhouse-gas emissions. In addition, dams also have dire social costs. Worldwide, between 500 and 750 million people suffer from direct or indirect impacts of dams.

“Hydropower is a destructive, outdated technology that, today, can be easily substituted with modern sources of renewable energy, such as solar power“, Natasa Crnkovic, president of the Center for Environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Fortunately, there is one region in Europe which still hosts free-flowing rivers: the Balkans. However, even these last jewels are under massive attack by about 2,800 projected hydropower plants. To make a statement against this destruction, the first European Rivers Summit was held in Sarajevo. Starting this year, a European Rivers Summit will be held every two years in a different region in Europe. The next summit will be held in Portugal in 2020.
 

Background information

  • The First European Rivers Summit was carried out by Riverwatch (Austria) and the Center for Environment (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and organized within the framework of a newly formed alliance of several European NGOs with the purpose to save Europe’s rivers and stop the dams. These organisations include Riverwatch, EuroNatur, WWF Adria, Wetlands International and Rios livres (GEOTA) from Portugal.

  • Big finish of the Summit was the Concert for Balkan Rivers in the Sarajevo city centre, organized within the campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe”. Popular musicians Rambo Amadeus (Montenegro), Eda Zari (Albania), Tamara Obrovac (Croatia) and Damir Imamovic (Bosnia-Herzegovina) raised their voices for free Balkan rivers and against the dams in front of hundreds of people.

 

For more information contact

Anja Arning, Public Relations, EuroNatur, Germany
anja.arning(at)euronatur.org; +49 7732 927213

Cornelia Wieser, Campaign coordinator, Riverwatch, Austria
cornelia.wieser(at)riverwatch.eu, +43 650 4544784

Jelena Ivanić – local partner in BiH, Center for Environment, Bosnia and Herzegovina
jelena.ivanic(at)czzs.org, +387/65779467

Do you want to help?

Donation

Future needs nature. EuroNatur cares for it. Please use your possibilities to help. With your donation you will make an effective contribution to a more livable environment.

News

New home in Croatia for Romanian lynx

Doru, a four-year-old lynx from the Romanian Carpathians, has been released back into the wild in the Risnjak National Park in Croatia. Doru is the...

Rapid loss of species: Europe's virgin forests need to be protected

++ Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services confirms grave situation of biodiversity ++ One of the most urgent...

Hydropower Project Mokrice put on hold

Good news from the Sava: Our appeal against the building of the hydropower plant Mokrice at the Slovenian-Croatian border was successful. The...

100'000 signatures for bird's paradise at the Adriatic coast

++ 90’000 signatures presented to Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković ++ Lasting protection of Adriatic saltern is prerequisite for the...

North Macedonia: No-go zones for hydropower projects must be designated

++ NGOs, government representatives, experts, hydropower developers and the local community discuss challenges and solutions at an international...

Thousands of white storks are the victims of illegal hunting

++ The migration season is now in full flow ++ Every year there are 25 million birds killed illegally, including thousands of white storks ++...

Photo competition 2019 enters the home straight

The countdown has started: March 31 is the deadline of the photo competition „European treasures of Nature 2019”.

375,386 citizens call for strong EU legislation to protect water

Over the past months, an alliance of numerous European environmental and nature conservation associations have promoted broad participation in a...

Balkan Rivers in the European Parliament

The Blue Heart team presented the Eco-Masterplan for Balkan Rivers in the European Parliament in Brussels at the event “Save the Balkan Rivers:...

Reintroduced cinereous vulture poisoned in Greece

Cinereous vulture Ostrava, previously released into the wild in Bulgaria, has been found dead in south-west Greece. It is very likely that the young...

Milestone bank summit in Belgrade for protecting Balkan rivers

++ More transparency needed in financing hydropower ++ Meeting of banks and activists a step towards protecting Balkan rivers ++

Albania fails to comply with Energy Community Law

++ NGOs file complaint against Albania ++ Hydropower projects on Vjosa river clearly breach Energy Community rules ++

Plans for hydropower plants on the Mura halted

Good news for the Mura: Slovenian Environment Minister Jure Leben has called a halt to the construction of all planned hydropower plants on the Mura...

Back to Freedom

At the beginning of February, our Greek partners at MOm released a young Mediterranean monk seal back into the Aegean Sea. Prior to that, they had...

The protection of the Ulcinj Salina is a precondition of Montenegro’s membership of the EU

++ The EU demands that Montenegro protect Ulcinj Salina ++ February 2nd is World Wetlands Day ++

By using our services, you agree that we use cookies. Data protection