EuroNatur Award 2023: Signal of support for the protection of rivers in Poland

++ Polish Save the Rivers Coalition has received the EuroNatur Award ++ Odra expansion must be halted ++ Optimism for nature conservation in Poland following parliamentary elections ++

Laureates of the KRR on Mainau Island

This year's three EuroNatur Award winners Piotr Nieznański, Dorota Chmielowiec-Tyszko and Justyna Choroś (from left to right) behind the KRR banner. They accept the award on behalf of the entire River Protection Alliance.

© Gerald Jarausch
Laureates inside the castle of Mainau Island

The three laureates surrounded by EuroNatur President Prof. Dr Thomas Potthast (far left) and Vicepresident Dr Anna Wöbse.

© Gerald Jarausch

Radolfzell, Mainau Island. Dorota Chmielowiec-Tyszko, Justyna Choroś and Piotr Nieznański received the EuroNatur Award today, 26 October, on behalf of Polish river protection alliance Koalicja Ratujmy Rzeki (KRR), also known internationally as the Save the Rivers Coalition. “What KRR has accomplished for Poland's rivers cannot be overstated, because it has made visible a comprehensive approach for protecting living rivers throughout Poland, as well as in the neighbouring countries connected to those rivers,” said EuroNatur President Thomas Potthast in his laudatory address. 

“Our Coalition was formed in response to the government's river-destructive plans. By working to protect the river and promoting projects that benefit people and the environment, Coalition have increasing public support. Therefore, while we are grateful for this award, we also dedicate it to all those people who do not intend to be passive in the face of environmental destruction. To those who actively engage in grassroots civic initiatives and in solidarity support the work to protect life-giving rivers" said the three laureates of KRR during the award ceremony.

Following parliamentary elections on 15 October, there is new hope in Poland for the German-Polish border river Odra and others. The current government in Warsaw had stuck firmly to plans for the expansion of the largely natural river into a navigable waterway - despite last year's environmental catastrophe which saw half the fish in the river die. Legal challenges and complaints at national and EU levels, including from EuroNatur and its partners at KRR, have so far failed to bring the expansion plans to a halt. Thanks to KRR and the forthcoming change of government in Warsaw, there is hope for the Odra, the Vistula and other rivers.

“The alliance has also managed to get the issue of river protection firmly established in the election manifestos of all the democratic and liberal parties. Following the Polish parliamentary elections, it is to be hoped that these parties will form the future government. In this respect, the vote on 15 October was also a vote in favour of river and nature conservation in Poland,” said EuroNatur President, Thomas Potthast.


  • EuroNatur Award: Previous winners include the municipality of Mals in South Tyrol, the World Biodiversity Council IPBES, US bestselling author Jonathan Franzen and the "courageous women of Kruščica". The EuroNatur Award is non-endowed. It is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements in nature conservation. The EuroNatur Prize 2023 will be awarded on Thursday, 26 October 2023 at 5 pm on the island of Mainau in Lake Constance. Dorota Chmielowiec-Tyszko (FER - Fundacja EkoRozwoju), Justyna Choroś (OTOP - Polish Society for the Protection of Birds, BirdLife Poland) and Piotr Nieznański (WWF Poland advisor) will accept the award.
  • Koalicja Ratujmy Rzeki (KRR) or Save the Rivers Coalition: The KRR connects organisations that protect Poland's rivers, streams and wetlands, as well as scientists, individuals, local authorities and institutions that care about the fate of Poland's freshwater ecosystems. Among other things, the alliance has been campaigning for the protection of the Vistula and Oder rivers for many years and is fighting now against the planned construction of the E40 waterway, which threatens one of Europe's largest wilderness areas in the transnational region of Polesia.

Enquiries: Christian Stielow, Mail: christian.stielow(at), Tel.: +49 (0)7732 – 92 72 15

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