The conference opened with welcome regards by the FES SOE director, Dr. Ralf Melzer, who thanked the activists for their commitment and for accepted the invitation for Ulcinj, especially given the current circumstances caused by the global health situation. Following the welcome regards, the participants had the opportunity to introduce their organizations and ongoing struggles across the region, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia. Some challenges seem to be shared for the entire region, such as preventing mini-hydro plants, air pollution, deforestation. Apart from environmental challenges, almost all activists speak of very similar issues regarding the attitude of the governments towards their demands, from not implementing laws to open repression towards the activists themselves, even through the use of force, slap suits, and criminal charges.
The presentations from the activists were followed by the presentation of some preliminary results within the Inclusive Energy Transition in Southeast Europe as an Opportunity study, commissioned by the FES SOE and produced by the DOOR. The first day of the program ended with a series of short presentations and workshops with organization Eko Kvarner from Croatia based on their experiences and the ongoing struggle to protect the environment of the island Krk.
On the second day, activists had the opportunity to visit some local hotspots around Ulcinj that are being fought for at the moment by different organizations active locally and nationally in Montenegro. Port Milena, Ulcinj Salt Ponds, Valdanos Beach, and Ada Bojana (river and beach) are all being impacted by different private interest holders, governmental neglect, and disregard of the citizens, and that is why it was essential to address how they can be best protected. At Valdanos Beach, our activists even held an ad hoc clean-up of the beach, showing that it sometimes does not take much to do something good for our environment.
The event also supported the local women's association Taste of Ulcinj, which organized a picnic for the forum organizers and participants and gave all an extraordinary glimpse into traditional Montenegrin cuisine and homemade goods. Taste of Ulcinj is one of the projects supported in Montenegro to promote sustainable and environmentally-conscious tourism and empower the local community, especially women.
This regional conference in Ulcinj is organized in partnership with the Montenegrin activist organization KOD. Conference in Ulcinj is the fourth regional conference for environmental activists that the Foundation is organizing, following similar events in Tetovo, Athens, and Mostar.
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