The Clean Adriatic Sea Alliance would like to give the supporters of "The Adriatic Pledge" a platform to tell their story, highlighting their organization and why our mission and the Adriatic Sea is important to them.
The first in a series of Supporter Spotlight blogs, we'd like to introduce the non-profit SEEP (Social Education & Environment Protection) and Green Vision, a network of six environmental organizations in Vlore, Albania. We've invited Simo Ribaj, the Executive Director of Green Vision to give us an overview of their work and you can read his response below.
The NGO SEEP supports the Clean Adriatic Sea Alliance's mission and has propagated an oil drilling ban in the Adriatic Sea.
Last year we found out there was a decision from our government for oil drilling in Zvernec within a Protected Area, in a very narrow belt of land between the Adriatic Sea and Narta Lagoon. This portion of southern Albania is located precisely on the intersection of the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea.
SEEP gathered the environmental organizations of Vlore to set up a civil movement against oil drilling. Since this activity was very difficult to realize as we had to "fight" against the government, we founded the Green Vision Network which would deal with the continuance of this activity. SEEP leads and supports the Green Vision Network in Vlore, and now Green Vision is formalized as an NGO to enable official information exchanges with the government.
The first important activity of Green Vision was to raise the civil movement called "Tourism or Oil", which was created as a reaction of the locals of Zvernec against the decision of KKT (National Council Territory) for building an oil well in their village.
The citizens' concern was supported and addressed by the Green Vision Network with a clear action plan to decision-makers for the annulment of the decision for the construction of the oil well. The movement is called "Tourism or Oil" to deal with two main activities of development of the area and to take the citizens' opinion if they want clean tourism, in which they have invested for a long time, or oil for developers and pollution damage of the wonderful nature within the Protected Area status.
The network analyzed the concerns and requirements of residents to stop the construction because that area has rare touristic values and residents have invested in that direction, but we also analyzed the decision of KKT regarding the construction of the oil well. From the information we collected in the field we noticed citizens lacked information about the project, violating the Aarhus Convention.
Due to the circumstances, Green Vision decided to lead this movement of residents through a specific plan with several phases. For the first phase, the movement chose to not begin with protests in the streets, but with legal analysis of the documents on which KKT based its decision because we were sure that they had used illegal documents. We monitored the project investigations, interviewed key persons in the community, businesses, and also organizations at the national level.
We asked KKT and The Ministry of Energy several times to give us the file, and after much avoidance, they saw our perseverance and submitted it to us. During the morning of December 4, 2015 they removed the materials and watchmen from the occupied land, leaving it free. In the end, the fence that was erected, was removed by the oil company. This was a great victory of the citizens of Albania.
The second phase is scheduled to start after the legal analysis report of the government’s decision, which will widely publish serious violations by the government and Albanian Prime Minister who has signed this decision himself. At this point many powerful rallies and protests are expected, until the government withdraws.
The third phase will entail a referendum and the denunciation in court of the government on behalf of Aarhus Convention.
However, our mission does not end here, because even though the land is free of any structures, the decision to drill is still going forward. We will seek the annulment of the decision for constructing the oil well.
The Adriatic Sea, connected and communicating directly with many lagoons rich in biodiversity and fresh fish for Albanian residents, is the fishing grounds of the Albanian fleet and also important in terms of nautical, coastal and undersea tourism.