London, Prague, Radolfzell, Vienna – Representatives from the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign to save Europe’s last remaining wild rivers handed in a petition endorsed globally by more than 120,000 people, calling on international development banks to rein in financial support for hydropower projects in the Balkans.
Delivered to the London headquarters of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the petition targets the funding of the EBRD, the World Bank and the EU’s European Investment Bank, which together have funded at least 82 hydropower plants across the Balkans – of which 37 are located in protected areas – with EUR 727 million in total investments.
As economic trendsetters for activities in the region, the development banks have been followed into hydropower investment by commercial lenders, including, among others, Austria’s Erste and Italy’s Unicredit, which have funded at least 158 hydropower plants.
The campaign is calling on banks to immediately stop funding for projects that are located in protected areas and other valuable rivers stretches, apply more stringent green conditions to loans in the sector and increase funding for energy efficiency and other renewable energy sources, whose potential in the region remains largely untapped.
The Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign is an initiative of nongovernmental organisations EuroNatur and Riverwatch, together with green groups from southeast Europe, Bankwatch and activist company Patagonia in order to save the pristine rivers of the Balkan from destruction brought by dams and diversions.
Read more on the website of CEE Bankwatch Netwwork