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WWF Adria Congratulates Maida Bilal and Women of Kruščica on the Global Recognition for Their Battle Against Small Hydropower Plants

For the first time, the Goldman Environmental Prize went to Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Brave Women of Kruščica received major recognition for the courage and persistence they demonstrated in 2017, when they stood up for their river, fighting against the construction of two planned small hydropower plants.

Maida Bilal was awarded the 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize for leading a group of women from Kruščica who spent more than 500 days and nights physically preventing the machines to cross the village bridge and start the construction of small hydro plants. Shocking photos and footage of police brutality spread throughout the region, leaving no one indifferent to the determination of women to preserve the river. Their fight ultimately resulted in a court decision revoking building permits.

WWF Adria, MAVA Foundation and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency provided technical, moral, and financial support to their cause, helping them prepare court cases for the revocation of licenses, as well as to establish and build up their association. Furthermore, WWF Adria invited the Brave Women of Kruščica to present their struggle to members of the European Parliament at the conference Save the Rivers of Balkans: Resisting the Construction of Hydropower Plants in the Balkans and Albania.

The award comes at a time when the countries of the Western Balkans are still facing numerous small hydropower plants projects which threaten to destroy some of Europe's last free-flowing rivers. For WWF Adria, this is another proof of how important is the work on strengthening local communities in nature protection, which is one of the priorities of our activities in the region. We continue our efforts to end incentives for the construction of small hydropower plants, for which we have proven, through expert analysis and numerous examples from the field, to be harmful projects that do not bring any benefits to countries and local communities, leaving behind dead rivers and wounded communities.

The Goldman Environmental Prize is given annually to individuals from around the world for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. The Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.
WWF is supporting women who are defending the Kruscica River in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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