Democracy and participation, Environment and sustainability

Balkan Rivers Tour 5 | Sava: Bohinj to Belgrade

A month-long, direct action to INSPIRE, CONNECT + DIRECTLY SUPPORT local river conservation in all 4 countries along the Sava River, by cultivating local empowerment, river advocacy and democracy.

Creators

Who is behind this?

Rok Rozman

Leeway Collective, Institute for the Promotion and Protection of Aquatic Ecosystems

https://balkanriverdefence.org

Slovenia

Idea

Idea pitch

The Sava River connects Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia but is threatened by hydroelectric dam projects, gravel extraction and dredging. By kayaking the whole river, Balkan Rivers Tour 5 will unite large and small local river conservation organizations by combining activism, adventure sports, community empowerment, science, education and fun while gaining international awareness and exposing the potential for sustainable solutions which support human and nature-rights.

Where will your project idea take place?

Along the Sava River from Gorenjska Region of SLO, through CRO, BiH, finishing in Belgrade, SRB.

What is the local challenge?

People in the Balkans have been through wars, regimes and occupations and thus face many challenges regarding democracy and societal cohesion. The region is a mosaic of political, religious, cultural and historical differences. But the Sava River is an icon of the Balkans and knows no borders or religions. It is a source of pride and BRT5 will connect all 4 countries the Sava flows through, to work TOGETHER for river conservation, river advocacy and the democratic rights of the people who depend on this major European river, and her tributaries. Locals in the region are disconnected from the decision-making processes related to rivers and thus are often only aware of dams and dredging when the diggers roll in. Our idea will foster healthy, local-led river conservation.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

Our idea strengthens democracy and citizenship engagement by:
1. INSPIRING locals to become involved in river conservation efforts.
2. DIRECTLY SUPPORTING local river conservation groups, regardless of size or status through river advocacy workshops.
3. ENCOURAGE CITIZEN PARTICIPATION by showing how protecting and celebrating rivers can be fun, and effective.
4. MAKING RIVER CONSERVATION ACCESSIBLE to everyone using kayaking and adventure sports to engage young people and creating a culture of opportunity based on local rivers and natural resources. BRT5 will motivate a movement of local people who have a new vision of exercising their rights to protect their rivers and support healthy freshwater ecosystems and with them, healthy communities.

Who are you doing it for?

- Rural communities who rely on water from the Sava and tributaries for low-impact, close-to-the-land, traditional lifestyles; who are directly impacted by the construction hydro dams and are excluded or voiceless in the decision-making process related to both human rights and rights of nature.
- CBOs + NGOs who need help to get their message/voices heard; to foster discussion with local and municipal governments who were not previously responsive to in interacting with locals.
- Recreation + tourism groups (i.e. sports, birding, fishing clubs).
- Youth seeking purpose and direction; BRT5 appeals to younger generations and those not exposed to nature conservation.
- An estimated 8,176,000 people live in the Sava River basin and directly and indirectly rely on its groundwater.

How do you plan to get there?

1. Kayak the Sava River from its start in Slovenia to where it joins the Danube River in Belgrade, Serbia.
2. Perform 1 River Advocacy Workshop in each country (SLO, CRO, BiH, SRB) inviting locals, CBOs and NGOs to learn about strategies and tools to effectively protect rivers and community well-being and democracy.
3. Organize 1 round table discussion in each country inviting all Sava River stakeholders (local farmers and shepherds, fishermen, business owners, NGOs, mayors) to sit down on neutral ground to discuss river use, abuse and solutions.
4. Create a unified voice for the Sava by forming the Coalition for Sava, connecting river conservation CBOs, NGOs and civil societies working to protect the Sava River and tributaries.

What are the expected results?

Success to us is stopping the destruction of the Sava and showing decision makers that there is a unified group of concerned and active citizens protection the Sava River, from Slovenia to Serbia.
Success will be measured by:
1. Kayaking the entire Sava River
2. The creation of the Sava River Coalition
3. Investors backing away from destructive, illegal HPPs knowing there is a well-organized, peaceful, intelligent and organized group of river advocacy organizations that will not allow illegal and undemocratic destruction of the Sava River and tributaries
4. Community unity and cohesion and the start up of new CBO’s along the Sava River.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

The UN has declared 2021-2030 the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration aimed at scaling up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight climate change and enhance water sovereignty and biodiversity. BRT5 contributes to this goal and strengthens democracy through community mobilization while simultaneously supporting a deeper connection to nature; connecting ecosystem health to human health. BRT5 will help locals to work together to protect the Sava River and in the process, they will recognize how a common goal can unite people across borders, religions and cultures. By working together to protect or restore their small stretch of the Sava River, they also become valuable contributors to the big picture and the fight to minimize and ADAPT to climate change.

What is your story?

We are whitewater kayakers and have a deep physical and emotional connection to rivers. We know the BRT formula is effective and we know how to execute it successfully. The statistics from the previous 4 BRTs (2016-2019) are: over 3,600 participants from 27 nations participated in 120 days of events where nearly 1,500 kayakers paddled 1,090 km of 43 different rivers. The BRT approach of kayaking combined with large, visible, local, direct actions aimed at decision makers has appealed to a broader audience than any previous river conservation efforts in the region and through this, BRD has fostered the growth of a network of conservation NGOs and passionate locals who work together to keep decision makers accountable and to spread awareness on the importance of protecting rivers.

€ 30,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 60,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Personnel - 15.000
Communication + Marketing - 8.000
Office Expenses - 7.000
Print and Promo Materials - 8.000
Media production; designer, filmers and photographers - 8.000
Travel Costs; accommodation, camping, petrol, van rental - 6.000
Four River Advocacy Workshops; materials, and hiring of experts to present (i.e. a local environmental lawyer from each country) - 5.000
Four Round Table Discussions; venue, materials - 3.000

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

If we have explained out idea clearly. Balkan Rivers Tour is simple action to protect rivers and support those working on river advocacy, but it is a difficult concept to explain in such a small word count.

Team

Carmen

Idea created on May 27, 2020

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