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CEKOR: Campaign opposing climate harmful energy investments and advocating for affected local community inhabitant's resettlements

24th of September, Belgrade (Serbia), in front of ministry for environment: Protest of affected villagers against newly planned coal mine supported by CEKOR

The Center for Ecology and Sustainable Development (CEKOR) has been working for several years already  in the Kolubara region, a lignite basin located 60km south of Belgrade (Serbia) and spanning over 600 square kilometres, where the continuous expansion of the open-pit mines have been affecting several local communities - e.g. Vreoci, Merosina, Veliki Crljeni, and Baroševac - for years now, forcing them to live with very high levels of environmental pollution  (and related health issues) or to be resettled, including illegal, partially legal and forced resettlements of individual houses and properties. This kind of approach to the Kolubara basin exploitation by the EPS company (public electricity company of Serbia) has resulted in a number of villages practically “living” surrounded by mining activities and activities of supporting industries and transport infrastructure.

The last developments related to the new pit expansion, the so called “Field E”, whose Environmental Impact Assessment is currently under the consideration of the Serbian Ministry of Environment, as well as the coal self-ignition accident in fields C, B, D of the Kolubara coal basin, which happened on the last 8th and 9th of August and which turned the entire area in a “gas chamber”, prompted CEKOR and the citizens of Medoševac, Veliki Crljeni, Zeok, and Baroševac to send an open letter to the Serbian minister of environment Mr. Goran Trivan on August 15th, demanding of him, “within the scope of his competence to concede the approval to the environmental impact assestment of the Field E in the Kolubara region, which is now under consideration, not to ignore the problem of displacement of settlers in the vicinity of open-pit mines and to do everything in his power to take measures and procedures for resettling, as soon as possible, of all the affected inhabitants of the surrounding villages, due to the negative impacts on health and the environment, before proceeding with the opening plans for the new Field E.”

By September 9th, neither CEKOR nor the local communities received any answer from the ministry. Due to this silence, the citizens of Medoševac and Veliki Crljeni together with CEKOR, in an interview to the “Danas” news portal, announced a protest in front of the Ministry of Environment to express their dissatisfaction with that Ministry about continuing their plans to open the E field in the Kolubara Mining Basin, which they say will be the deepest and most dangerous for the local communities.

This resistance, besides the local dimension, also has a global dimension: These new energy investments are actually harmful to the climate, and in the context of the current mobilization demanding governmental action and responsibilities on climate change, they have to be opposed. In this way, local communities protests are to be connected with the Global climate strike week of action Septemer 20th-27th, as the abovementioned protest will be organized during that period.

"CEKOR clearly and unambiguously points out that it is unacceptable to continue to plan opening of new fields in the open-pit as well as the purchase of new mining equipment and the opening of new thermal power plants in the middle of the current climate crisis of global proportions. Strategies aganist climate change should be developed instead, which should show how fast Serbia can decarbonise its electricity and heat production. The Ministry of  Environment needs to show awareness and vision, use its competences and refuse to issue permits to open mines and thermal power plants, showing that they can lead Serbia to fossil fuel phase-out before 2050”.

In this context, CEKOR is proposing the following actions:

  • Preparing a number of photos with messages against climate destroying investments that will be shared over social and Partner electronic media. This will include persons, activists, with messages. One photo will also include national government and national parliament.
  • Preparing one or few moving photos, short videos, with statements from activists and affected people that will be distributed in the same way.
  • Organizing a protest in front of ministry for environment on 24th of September with two agendas: communicating demands to ministry to protect local communities from the mining of coal (resettlement) and demanding that ministry doesn't give EIA approval for the new coal mine. The date is confirmed and serious media coverage of that event is expected.
  • Organizing a visit from national parlament members to the affected local communities after the protest.

That is why CEKOR is applying for a See.Net support subgrant which will be used exclusively for producing visuals + short videos and distribution among media and social media, and support for the planned protest and visit.

The rest of See.Net members can distribute the photos and videos as well as the protest call through their social media, and produce a solidarity photo with the Kolubara region local communities to be also publish in their social media on that date.