This year we’ve received 38 qualified applications from 23 countries on 5 continents. Reading about all these planned hydropower projects is devastating – but reading through the applications about amazing projects, determinded activists and the hard work some people put into the fight for their rivers makes everything a lot better! It shows once again that there is a need for this kind of funding – and it motivates us to keep doing what we are doing. For 2024 we have chosen 11 projects from 11 different countries, thereof 8 brand new projects and 3 continued grants:
New projects 2024
Salvemos Chilina from Arequipa, Peru. These grassroots activists are trying to protect their home River Rio Chili from a huge hydropower development that would have horrendous effects on the ecosystem, agriculture and tourism in the whole Chilina valley. They have been really defiant so far, logged legal complaints, initiated public hearings and got a lot of support and publicity for their campaign. We are happy to support them to continue their work and to help finance experts statements on the effects of the proposed dam to further their legal work.
Nicoleta Nour, an individual activist from Slovenia working alongside the Slovenian Native Fish Society, campaigning for the protection of the Sava River and in particular against the Mokrice Hydro Power Plant. Her campaign heavily aims at and includes the local communities that will be affected by the Hydro Power development: with workshops and events, promo materials, community actions, group discussions and a media campaign. The Sava River is connecting four countries and represents one of Europe´s ecologically and culturally most interesting river networks, with large sections still free flowing and extensive floodplains and alluvial forests preserved until the present day. The Mokrice HPP is one of nineteen hydropower dams are projected along the Sava alone and in addition to those almost all tributaries are subject to further development plans. The decision about the Mokrice HPP is crucial for all the other planned developments on the Sava and therefore is the main objective in the fight to protect the Sava.
The Aetomilitsa Residents Initiative from Greece is fighting against dozens of small hydropower plants (SHPs) currently planned in the Sarantaporos River – a tributary to the Vjosa River network. The area is a NATURA 2000 site and the Vjosa is Europe’s first River National Park – and yet its tributaries and wider river network are still under threat. The Citizen’s Initiative is doing community work, informing the public and organizing protests. Furthermore they are fighting with all available legal tools to defend their river and to participate in decision-making for their area and need financial support for their legal battle.
The local initiative Hijos del Rio is working on protecting the rivers of the Napo region of Ecuador. Their main focus at the moment is the opposition of the proposed “La Merced de Jondachi” hydroelectric project which would dam and divert the legendary Upper Jondachi River. The Jondachi is not only home to world-class rapids but is also an important free-flowing river corridor providing ecological connectivity between a critical transition zone between the Andes and the Amazon. In 2024 these activists are co-hosting the Jondachi Fest as well as a community watershed conference with local authorities and the Ministry of Environment about the conservation of the Rio Jondachi. They also run a free kayaking school for local indigenous youth, introducing them to the world of whitewater kayaking and conservation, and, above all, joining forces to protect their home rivers.
Spasimo Ričinu is a small group of volunteers fighting for the Rječina River in Croatia. The upper part of this river is listed as NATURA 2000 area and yet there is a new dam project planned: the Kukuljani Hydro Power Project is supposed to be build only 2,5 km from the source and would affect the whole river. For years these volunteers have been doing community work, informing the public, worked on river revitalization and initiated research projects – we are happy to support them in their work.
The Amazonian Rivers Initiative opposing the Chepete-Bala HPP proposal in the Beni River Basin (Bolivia), organised by Rios to Rivers. The proposed Chepete-Bala mega dam for the Beni River would flood 781 km2 of Amazon rainforest, forcibly relocate ~6,000 Indigenous people and puts the food security, rights, lives & cultures of the Beni River Basin’s people in great peril. The Amazonian Rivers Initiative seeks to empower the Indigenous communities to exercise their constitutional right to manage their territories as well as to connect the Beni’s Indigenous peoples with their native waters through kayaking, leadership, & advocacy training programs.
RiverLov – a grassroots initiative made up of local activists, ecologists and lawyers in Montenegro that came together to spark civic engagement and build strategies to protect the last remaining free flowing rivers in the Balkans. Their main objective at the moment is to stop the Komarnica Dam project and we support them in financing the 2024 Komarnica Protest Camp – a five day camp featuring educational sessions, art, civil engagement activities, a concert, outdoor river events and media campaigns.
Individual activist Dejan Furtula, working alongside Citizen Association Eko Centar Visegrad, towards the protection of the Rzav River in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Rzav area is planned to become a nature park, but this doesn’t prevent investors of small Hydro Power Plants from closing in – at least 3 SHPs are proposed for the Rzav River. Dejan plans a Kayaking Festival and the production of a short film to show the beauty of the river to advertise its touristic value.
Continued Grants 2024
We continue to support Varig vern av Raundalselva – a local volunteer team in Voss (Norway) campaigning against a combined hydropower / flood prevention scheme proposed for the Raundalselva River. We were impressed with all they got done in 2023 and excited that we were able to facilitate a partnership between this project and our Partner Palm Equipment that made an awesome film about the Raundalselva possible. We are excited to see what they are up to in 2024!
We also continue to support The Grand Salmon – these three women went on a 1,000+ miles source-to-sea journey of the Salmon River (USA) to promote the removal of the four Lower Snake River dams and to halt the Stibnite Gold Mine Project in order to save the rapidly decreasing salmon populations from extinction. They are now producing a film to tell the story of the Snake River Basin and the threats it is facing which were are happy to support!
Another familiar face among the 2024 Grantees is Iván Morales with Pueblos Unidos de la Cuenca Antigua por los Ríos Libres from Veracruz, Mexico. For years now he has been fighting for his home river, the Antigua River Basin that is threatened my multiple massive hydropower projects. We supported him already in 2022 when he went on a trip down the river to photograph and map the threatened ecosystems and the river’s importance to the communities. In 2024 he will take his pictures on a tour to the affected communities to inform them about planned dams, the threats they are facing and to foster a broad basis for the resistance against the hydropower developments.