Communities under Pressure – the Human Cost of Hydropower | WWF

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Communities under Pressure – the Human Cost of Hydropower

WWF Adria hosted a panel discussion on "Communities under Pressure" in Tirana, Albania

TIRANA, ALBANIA – WWF Adria hosted a lively panel discussion and open debate on “Communities under Pressure: The Human Cost of Hydropower” in Tirana, Albania.  The event opened with a presentation of the findings of the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights report on the systematic abuse of anti-hydropower activists in Valbona Valley National Park.

This report, the first of its kind in Albania, demonstrates a clear pattern of human rights violations originating from the developer Gener 2 with the collaboration of local and national governmental institutions. The report ends by reminding the Albanian government of their legal and ethical obligation to protect Albanian citizens and to investigate and prosecute those guilty of perpetrating human rights abuses.

The panel discussion then went on to examine hydropower development issues, human rights issues around Albania as well as giving an analysis of the lack of function of the justice system in the case of Valbona.  The closing speaker was Catherine Bohne of TOKA who made a passionate plea for Albania’s leaders to hear the voice of the Albanian people and take responsibility for the reality of the problems being suffered by communities all over the country.

More than 70 people attended the event, including members of the diplomatic community, government officials, EU representatives, civil society, and representatives of communities around Albania defending their rivers and well-being.

The event finished with an extremely impassioned debate lasting for over an hour. Individuals from around Albania presented stories of their own rivers, including the Seta River near Dibra.  At the end of the meeting, the group agreed to create a national group of defenders who will meet regularly to work together in addressing the systemic problems in Albania – dysfunctional justice system, co-opting of government by oligarchs, state-backed abuse of those who speak out against development decisions, and the failure to respect sustainability goals for social, environmental and economic needs.
Valbona National Park, Albania

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