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Ana Colovic Lesoska awarded the 2019 Goldman Environmental Prize for Europe!

Ana Colovic Lesoska, Executive Director of Ekosvest, Bankwatch’s and SEENET's member group in Macedonia, has led a multi-year campaign to cut off international funding for two large hydropower plants planned for inside the Mavrovo National Park – Macedonia’s oldest and largest national park – thereby protecting the habitat of the nearly-extinct Balkan lynx.

For her efforts, she is being awarded the 2019 Goldman Environmental Prize for Europe. Given annually to environmental heroes from around the world, the Goldman honors the achievements and leadership of grassroots environmental activists globally.

Thanks to Ana’s tireless campaigning, in 2015 the World Bank withdrew its financing for the Lukovo Pole hydropower project, and in 2017, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development canceled its loan to the Macedonian government for the Boskov Most project.

In addition to more than 1 000 species of plants, Mavrovo is home to rare trout species, wolves, bears, golden eagles, and otters. Mavrovo also provides crucial habitat for one of the last remaining populations of the critically-endangered Balkan lynx, with only about 35 mature individuals remaining and the most active breeding population found exclusively in Mavrovo.

In 2010, the state-owned power utility ELEM proposed the construction of two large hydropower plants in Mavrovo: Boškov Most and Lukovo Pole. Funding for Boškov Most was secured via a USD 65 million loan from the EBRD, and Lukovo Pole’s USD 70 million investment was through the World Bank. However both banks backpedaled in 2017 and 2015, respectively.

Help celebrate Ana’s achievements and use this momentum to push international banks to withdraw their support for other controversial hydropower projects, beginning with the billion dollar Nenskra project in Georgia.

Why the Nenskra project?

At first glance the campaigns to save Mavrovo and stop the Nenskra project haven’t much in common. But both are emblematic of the problems that infrastructure projects present to local communities and biodiversity when international finance is not kept in check.

If built the 280 MW Nenksra project would irreparably destroy the unique biodiversity of the Caucasus mountains and the economic livelihoods of the indigenous Svan people that have lived for generations in the region. The indigenous Svan communities that depend on their natural surroundings for their livelihood since generations, have been protesting the project over the past several years.

Read more about the Nenskra project and five reasons the banks should withdraw funding.

Who is funding the project?

Both the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment  Bank approved loans for the project last year at USD 214 million and USD 150 million, respectively, but neither have disbursed the money. 

The Asian Development Bank is considering awarding the project USD 314 million, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could also be awarding the project USD 100 million.

How you can help

Sign and share the petition calling on international lenders to drop the Nenskra hydropower project.

source: CEE Bankwatch Network
 

02.05.2019.