Goldman Environmental Prize for the “Brave Women of Kruščica”

++ River defenders from Bosnia and Herzegovina win the Goldman Environmental Prize ++ For the second time in the past three years an activist has has received this prestigious award for campaigning against hydro power in the Balkans ++

Goldman Prize laureate Maida Bilal

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

© Goldman Environmental Prize
Wild River in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The river Kruščica – still free flowing thanks to the incredible perseverance and courage of these women.

© Goldman Environmental Prize

San Francisco, Kruščica, Radolfzell, Vienna. On Wednesday evening (16.00 local time), 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 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. The group of women from the village of Kruščica in Bosnia and Herzegovina had occupied a bridge over their river for over 500 days and nights – despite violent eviction attempts by the police and even during the long, cold winter - and thereby prevented the construction of two hydropower plants.

The international foundation EuroNatur had already recognised their extraordinary courage and persistence with the EuroNatur Prize 2019. Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of EuroNatur, has welcomed the decision of the jury: “The commitment of these courageous women to their natural livelihoods is exemplary. I am delighted that the EuroNatur laureates will attract international attention with the awarding of the Goldman Prize, the so-called ‘Green Nobel Prize’”.

This is the second time in the last three years that this award has gone to activists fighting against the construction of hydropower in the Balkans. In 2019, Ana Colovic Lesoska from North Macedonia was honoured for campaigning against dam projects in her country. “This is, as far as I know, a novelty and an extraordinary motivation for all those who stand up for the Blue Heart of Europe. It is also a political signal to the governments of the region as well as to the EU, financial institutions and banks to keep their hands off Balkan rivers,” said Ulrich Eichelmann, CEO of Riverwatch.


Background information:

  • The Goldman Environmental Prize is a conservation prize that has been awarded annually since 1990 to six “environmental heroes” in the grassroots movements. A prize is awarded to people from each of the regions of Africa, Asia, Europe, islands and island states, North America and South and Central America.
  • The recording of the awards ceremony can be watched on demand here.
  • The "Save the Blue Heart of Europe" campaign aims to protect rivers of high natural value in the Balkans, which are threatened by over 3,500 hydropower projects. The campaign is coordinated by the international NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur and is implemented jointly with partner organizations in the Balkan countries. The partner organisation in Bosnia-Herzegovina is made up of the Center for Environment (CZZS) and ACT.
  • The campaign, “Save the Blue Heart of Europe”, is supported amongst others by the Manfred-Hermsen Foundation.

Further information:
Christian Stielow – EuroNatur, christian.stielow(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: +49 (0)7732 - 92 72 15
Cornelia Wieser – Riverwatch, cornelia.wieser(at)riverwatch.eu, Tel.: +43 (0)6504544784

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