But dams do not offer this option. Kayaking on the Vjosa River New river-based ventures are springing up, such as the Albanian Adventure Resort on the River Osum near Çorovoda, which will … 12 Mär, 2015 By admin. IUCN – potential for a National Park According to data published by ‘Save the Blue Heart of Europe’, a campaign launched by two international NGOs, the Albanian government plans to build over 400 hydropower plants across the country, including eight dams on the Albanian stretch of the Vjosa River and 23 hydropower plants on its tributaries [3]. Rok Rozman, a Slovenian Olympic rower, biologist and environmental campaigner, hoists a kayak covered in dozens of signatures protesting the dam, and heaves it over the heads of the police line protecting the building. Albanian PM Rama: Vjosa River to Remain Free of Dams in Albania Posted on 30 September 2020 Last week Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania, reacted to the statement of Albanian President Ilir Meta who supported the establishment of the Vjosa National Park. Albania’s government has set in motion plans to dam the Vjosa to generate much-needed electricity for one of Europe’s poorest countries, with the intent to build eight dams along the main river. Konfindustria urged the Albanian government to start the work for the official proclamation of the entire Vjosa River basin as a National Park according to international standards. The wave of dam and small hydropower projects has received much of its funding from large multilateral development banks like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). The Albanian government commissioned a Turkish company with the construction of a large dam. Today, the international NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur, together with their local partner EcoAlbania, are presenting a paper, which for the first time reveals the full extent of the threat to the Vjosa catchment area. “They are still trying to tell people that this is green energy, that they are helping the locals, saving the environment, but this is all that is left,” says Rozman. sources 44 percent from green power, and demand continues to grow. The river runs 272 km (169 miles) from the mountains of northern Greece through Albania, and is the last undammed river system in all of Europe outside of the scantly-populated Russian Arctic. Encouraging the villagers to fight for the beauty of the valley and the river, Ulrike Lunacek, the European Parliament vice president, said Albania was a candidate to join the EU and must respect its environmental rules. 2018 is the last chance to save the Vjosa River. “The proclamation of the Vjosa River Basin along its entire length from the border with Greece to the Adriatic Sea, as a protected area with the status of "National Park" would dispel the doubts publicly expressed by international institutions that we are dealing only with tactical withdrawals of the government before the elections of April 25, 2021 for the non-construction of HPP dams on the Vjosa River and not a final decision,” Konfindustria noted. It is fed by several tributaries, such as the Voidomatis, Sarantaporos, Drino and Shushicë. The paddlers slap the hulls of their candy colored kayaks with open palms, sending deep thunks bouncing off the walls of the Albanian prime minister’s offices in Tirana, the capital. The Kalivac dam project is the biggest threat to this ecosystem – a project with a dam wall of approximatively 50 meters high, that would destroy the Vjosa in one blow. The Vjosa River at a Crossroad – Dam Tsunami or National Park? Along its entire course of over 270 kilometers – from its source in the Greek mountains to the Adriatic Sea – it is untamed and free flowing. The slogan “Vjosa No Dams” was displayed in large letters on the grass as singers in traditional dress welcomed the kayakers. “This is a very conservative number. In the EU, 25.4 percent of primary energy production comes from renewables, reports EuroStat. “This is a clear message: the people of Albania want a national park and no dams on the Vjosa, and the government should listen to them”, concludes Olsi Nika from EcoAlbania. Currently around 1,355 new hydroelectric projects are planned, under construction or completed. “Climate change is a serious concern for a country like Albania and that needs to be taken into account when planning further renewable energy resources,” says Denk. In September, Prime Minister Edi Rama said that the government decided to cancel plans for the construction of HPPs on the Vjosa River, accompanied by the welcome decision not to issue the environmental permit for the Kalivac HPP. The data was presented at the International Forum on Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Vjosa River Basin organized by Konfindustria. Of these, around 200 new projects have been finished and another 113 are under construction. You’re not going to be able to see the fields anymore,” he says, describing the extent of the reservoir that will form behind the Pocem dam. We are still on level 0, even -1, at the moment.” But the people from Kuta, a village deeply rooting in agriculture, won’t stop fighting for their way of life. Strong political lobbies of the EU, academics, scientists of well-known international and domestic universities, the diplomatic corps, etc., have continuously demanded from the Albanian governments the protection of the Vjosa River from the construction of HPPs. The Vjosa/Aoos River, wild and free Located in the transboundary area of Albania and Greece, the Vjosa/Aoos River is one of Europe’s last wild rivers. Of 35,000 km (21,747 miles) of Balkan rivers assessed by conservationist groups, 30 percent were found to be “pristine” and 50 percent were only “moderately modified.” These rivers are home to around 70 endemic species of fish, and the river basins are home to critically endangered species like the Balkan lynx. Together with its tributaries, the Vjosa provides a dynamic, near-natural ecosystem that is without par in Europe. Because Albania suffers from a serious trade deficit—exporting 27.1 percent as a proportion of its GDP, versus imports of 44.3 percent in 2015, according to the World Bank—Denk says that green energy generated cheaply for export “is a strength, and one that the country, I think, legitimately would pursue to utilize.” But he says it is up to the Albanian government to weigh whether an individual hydroelectric project is more important than saving a section of river and the livelihood of thousands of villagers. Please attempt to sign up again. The EBRD has directly or indirectly financed between 16 and 19 projects in protected areas, the bank tells TIME, adding that the projects in protected areas have not had a significant impact. While the U.S. now gets around 13 percent of its energy from renewables, the E.U. While clean energy projects spawned by climate change could generate needed foreign revenue for countries like Albania, rising temperatures pose a significant threat to the profitability of the projects, since a hotter atmosphere is projected to deplete water reserves in Mediterranean countries. However, this natural treasure is at great risk. The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last wild rivers in Europe. The EBRD, European Investment Bank (EIB) and the IFC have made loans for 75 hydropower projects, including 30 directly affecting protected natural areas, totaling 818 million euros, says BankWatch, an industry watchdog focusing on Central and Eastern Europe. The proposed 45-m (147 ft) Pocem dam near Kuta represents just one of nearly 1,400 new small and large hydroelectric projects planned across the Balkans, as countries like Albania, Serbia and Macedonia rush to cash in on a flood of investment in green energy. o Vjosa hosts high values of European biodiversity. “The fields are going to be completely filled up. “About 25 years ago this was more or less the North Korea of Europe,” he adds, speaking of the country’s isolationist communist dictatorship. Sheep feed in the delta of the Vjosa River, where it flows into Adriatic Sea. Its entire course of over 270 kilometers is untamed and free-flowing, characterized by beautiful canyons, braided river sections, oxbows, meandering stretches, and islands covered with vegetation. The Vjosa or Aoös originates in northwestern Greece near Metsovo. All experts were amazed by the complexity and sheer size of the river system and every expertise found something at the Vjosa – species, habitat types, dynamic river processes – that has been long lost on all regulated rivers … An unexpected error has occurred with your sign up. The Letter was published two days before World Rivers Day which is celebrated worldwide on September 22nd. Rediscovering Albania: A Photographer’s Tribute to His Homeland, Why Climate Change Could Hurt Power Production, Germany’s Nuclear Cutback Is Darkening European Skies, Europe's Last Wild River Is About to Get Dammed. The river Vjosa is the location of a large dam project that will threaten the whole area, destroying the homes and farmland of people that have lived there for generations. The abolition of HPP projects on Vjosa River will create the conditions for the safe withdrawal of hundreds of millions of Euro of international funding. The Vjosa is reputed to be the last big wild river in Europe, outside Russia. But it is not just the environment that could suffer. +++ Impacts of hydropower projects for nature, people and coastal region to be calculated +++The University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), together with the Polytechnic University of Tirana, have started an assessment of the sediment transport in the Vjosa river in Albania. It will die.”. Funding will go to the development of tourism industry, infrastructure, solar and wind energy production, agriculture, agro-industry, wastewater treatment, solid waste, etc., to the benefit of all residents of the region and the national economy. Its got to be 100 percent finished. Joint press release by EuroNatur, Riverwatch and EcoAlbania. The protection of the Vjosa River from the construction of HPP dams has practically become one of the important unwritten conditions for the continuation of the political process of Albania's EU integration, Konfindustria said in a press release. Sitting with TIME in a lush garden near the Vjosa in southern Albania, he explains why the demonstration is needed. Could Amsterdam's New Economic Theory Replace Capitalism? July 14, 2016 July 14th, 2016, Poçem, Mallakastër. “We talk about smart scaling and dumb scaling. O n a blue-sky day on the Vjosa River, a kayak glides by a dam construction site at Kalivac, a small town in a wild Albanian valley filled with hidden mom-and-pop marijuana fields. The Vjosa River is widely regarded as Europe’s last wild river. Of that, hydropower makes up 16.5 percent, wind provides 11.1 percent and solar accounts for 6.1 percent. Please try again later. In order to bridge the knowledge gap, about 30 scientists from 4 countries and various expertise participated in one week of research in April 2017 on the previously almost unexplored Vjosa river in Albania – in the area of the planned Poçem dam. Further, Wolfgang Anzengruber, the head of Verbund, Austria’s largest energy provider, has said that developing more clean energy development projects in the Balkans no longer makes sense, since a swarm of solar and wind projects in Germany has glutted the European market with cheap, clean power, even as the region’s economy takes a hit post-Brexit. o Vjosa and its tributaries are an unique ecosystem of European importance. The 25th September marks a day of success for one of the last pristine rivers in the Balkans. Construction costs typically run more than 90 percent over than their budgets, says Flyvbjerg, based on his analysis of 245 large dam projects in 65 countries. All Rights Reserved. Whereas a wind turbine park that is 99 percent finished will work fine for you. © Copyright 1995 - 2021, All rights reserved. EUR 550 m of Losses from Dams on Vjosa River Current Event Monday, December 21, 2020 The construction of hydropower plants (HPP) on Vjosa River is estimated to causes an economic damage of not less than Euro 550 million in of Albania, the confederation of Albanian industries, Konfindustria, said on Sunday, citing studies of some of the most specialized international institutions. The boat crashes to the ground and is kicked back amidst the demonstrators. Big dams are dumb scaling. Today, the stunning 270km stretch of Albania’s Vjosa River remains untamed, free-flowing and untouched by man. No. Ecological concerns have been sidelined across the Balkans—not just on the Vjosa. The Vjosa River is one of Europe’s last living wild rivers. “With big dams its an either/or,” he says. In the decade from 2004-2014, renewable energy produced in the EU increased by 73.1 percent. The walls of the stalled Kalivac dam rise in the background, cut into the living rock of the surrounding hills. “There is a lot of corruption inside of this process.”, Read More: Why Climate Change Could Hurt Power Production. We’re supporting local activists and adventure guides fighting to stop the crazy plans to dam the River Vjosa in Albania, the last free-flowing wild river in Europe. The IFC, which has invested €116 million in hydropower projects in Albania, estimates that the country only uses 30-35 percent of its hydropower potential, highlighting a “clear need for for Albania to increase its production and energy security.” And while both banks see a need for energy diversification across the Balkans, Denk, of EBRD, admits that poor rainfall can drop hydropower production from around 85 percent, to “much below” 50 percent, highlighting risks to the hydroelectric sector cause by fluctuations brought on by climate change. But it is definitely something that needs to be taken into account.”. While the Albanian government wants to build dams on the river – starting with the Kalivaç dam – the alternative vision is to establish Europe’s first Wild River National Park. When the Albanian government commissioned a Turkish company with the construction of a large dam, the coalition of conservation under the leadership of EuroNatur, together with 38 affected residents, filed a lawsuit against this project. * The request timed out and you did not successfully sign up. The village overlooks the Vjosa River as it snakes its way north to the sea. At the same time, 78 percent of the respondents oppose the construction of dams on the Vjosa (14% neutral, 8% in favor of dams). All the banks say they are interested in transparency and willing to work with BankWatch—while defending the need for further investment. About 150 Local NGOs and International Organizations, have addressed a letter to Prime Minister of Albania Mr. Edi Rama, regarding the urgent need to protect the Vjosa River, which is considered to be the last free-flowing river in Europe. The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last intact natural rivers in Europe outside Russia. NGOs uncover: 33 hydropower plants projected ++ Austrian and Italian companies involved ++ New initiative supports national park idea. The Vjosa ist the last big wild river in Europe, outside Russia. The conservation organization EcoAlbania, Riverwatch and EuroNatur, together with 38 affected residents, filed a … The area has mostly been drained and the Vjosa is used for irrigation, built during the Communist era. “What is a village without its fields? We will vigorously fight against this project and for a dam-free Vjosa!”, says Olsi Nika from EcoAlbania and coordinator of the Vjosa campaign in Albania. Cities and towns including Ersekë, Përmet, Gjirokastër, Tepelenë, Mallakastër, Fier and Vlorë are located in the Vjosa catchment in Albania. Hydropower projects, specifically large dams, could end up bankrupting the delicate economies of the Balkans, says Bent Flyvbjerg, chair of Major Program Management at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. Its total length is about 272 kilometres (169 mi), of which the first 80 kilometres (50 mi) are in Greece, and the remaining 192 kilometres (119 mi) are in Albania. “Even without considering environmental impacts, big dams are bad business,” says Flyvbjerg, “and if you include the environmental impacts, that conclusion would be even worse.”, Read More: Germany’s Nuclear Cutback Is Darkening European Skies. The area is rich farmland, fed with minerals and sediment from the free flowing Vjosa River. You can unsubscribe at any time. That would not be clever in a time with too much energy,” speaking out in March. Inside Infectious Diseases Hospital amid Coronavirus Outbreak, President's Message for RAI 1, Together We Will Succeed, DP Accuses PM of Ignoring Albanians Living in Survival Conditions, Economy Can Be Recovered again, but the Dead Can't Be Brought Back, Eagle Forces Respond Positively to Doctors' Call for Blood Donation, American Citizens: April 1st May Be Last Flight from Tirana. Projects like wind and solar farms are modularized and can be scaled to the exact amount needed or that is economical. Globally, in 2015, both generating capacity and investment increased to an unprecedented level, reaching $286 billion, according to the Renewables Global Status Report. Chants of “No dams!” join the thumping, as nearly a hundred residents of Kuta, an ancient village threatened with flooding by a proposed dam project on the Vjosa River, join the demonstration. The dam projects on the Vjosa are part of a much larger building program of hydroelectric dams in the Balkans (see the map). “Our analysis clearly shows that especially for the EBRD, but also the World Bank Group, financing hydropower projects in protected areas is the norm, not an exception,” said Bankwatch’s Pippa Gallop in a statement in December. “One shouldn’t forget where Albania came from,” says Christoph Denk, head of EBRD’s Albania office. He hopes a compromise can be found between the natural flow of the river and economic gain, but, he says, “How can this happen? Refusing to grant permit for the Kalivaç hydropower dam, Albanian politicians spoke out in favor or proclamating Vjosa National Park, the first European wild river national park. Residents of the Vjosa valley, mainly from Kuta village protested today against the construction of Poçem hydro-power by blocking the national road Levan-Tepelenë near Poçem … It will give you 99 percent of what you would have gotten.”, Regardless, construction of the Pocem dam will probably go ahead, according to Dedej, from the environment ministry. Today, the international NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur, together with their local partner EcoAlbania, are presenting a paper, which for the first time reveals the full extent of the threat to the Vjosa catchment area. By signing up you are agreeing to our, Watch People Surf on a River Thanks to Europe's 'Supertide', Why 'The Great Gatsby' Now 'Belongs to the People', Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know now on politics, health and more, © 2021 TIME USA, LLC. o The hydropower projects are the main threat to … The construction of the dam … Vjosa –Europe´s first Wild River National Park". 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