ACT supports activists and artists in the Western Balkans by helping them rebuild their communities and by challenging systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns. ACT’s nomination helped secure the 2021 Goldman Environmental Award for Europe for the Brave Women of Kruscica in Bosnia and Herzegovina in celebration of their epic river defense.
Spanning more than 180,000 square miles across southeast Europe lies the Balkans, a region brimming with natural splendor. Some 80 percent of the crystal clear rivers in the Balkans are naturally preserved and relatively untouched by humans, earning it the nickname the ‘Blue Heart of Europe.’ These rivers however continue to face an onslaught of small hydropower plant construction, including in protected areas, with plans for more than 3,000 dams to be constructed in the region. The dams bring with them the construction of access roads, tunnels, bridges, with an influx of human activities that require tearing down the forests around the rivers and that threaten the animals that live there. According to freshwater experts, if this is allowed to continue, at least 10 percent of all European freshwater fish species will go extinct.
At the same time, there is an unprecedented uprising in the Balkans where local communities and ordinary people are organizing and standing up for their rivers and streams — they don’t fight for money or fame, they fight for rivers and water. In many cases, they are women and youth-led and in some areas ready to lay down their lives in defense of the river. People are also uniting across the Balkans for the first time since the war in the 1990’s and resisting corrupt systems of power and government entangled with private interests often facing serious threats and police violence. This also is unique in today’s world. But these people are relentless and committed to save the Blue Heart of Europe.
We look forward to being with you
For the Love of Water
The Walking Water Collective