Battle for Sutjeska – initiative to oppose the decision to construct hydroelectric plants in a national park




50 000 BAM / 25 000 EUR


2 years


Centar za životnu sredinu (CZZS) – Environment Centre


Sutjeska National Park

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Protection level


Project example
First civil initiative in Bosnia and Herzegovina (initiative to change the government decision and petition of signatures submitted to the national assembly) – the first such mobilization of people in BiH, with 6000 signatures (priručnik o građanskim inicijativama – handbook on civil initiatives)
The issue of hydroelectric plants has been focused on the example of Sutjeska in BiH – 12 towns in which signatures were collected
267 announcements in the domestic and foreign media
Motivation of local groups and associations to get involved and fight for their rights
1. establishment of the coalition to protect BiH rivers (over 23 societies)
2. launch of the initiative for 7 rivers in BiH (Ljuta, Neretva, Una, Ugar, Željeznica, Vrbas, Orlja) – 10 societies (ecological, fishing, sports, kayaking, hunting, humanitarian)
First court verdict won in which the court entered into the merits of the case.
EU Parliament passed the resolution for BiH and in one segment recommended that no hydroelectric plants be constructed in the Una and Sutjeska national parks, and that impact assessment studies should be conducted.
Current plans for construction of hydroelectric plants on the Sutjeska and Hrčavka Rivers halted.


Possible construction of hydroelectric plants on the Sutjeska and Hrčavka Rivers
Poor inclusion of the local population in the activities in Sutjeska National Park
Conservation of a river in a national park


Project key stages
mapping the problem (supporters and opponents)
analysing legal processes and possibilities
networking and inclusion of individuals, organisation, institutions (launching civil initiatives and collecting signatures)
demonstrations directed at decision-makers
commenting on impact assessment
filing lawsuits against the line ministry for its adoption of the impact assessment
ongoing advocacy towards decision-makers and key persons and organisations
ongoing work with the media
biological research of the Sutjeska and Hrčavka canyons
Stakeholders involvement
Networking with ecological associations in BiH, collection of 6000 signatures in 12 cities, calls for protests
Rights to information
The entire process influenced the informing of the public and activation of societies to demand their rights.
Both experts and the local population were invited to make their comments at public debates.
Opinions of the local population were heard for the first time.


Positive effects on environment
The existing state and quality of habitat in the Sutjeska and Hrčavka canyons have been preserved.
Positive economic and social changes
Public sector (local, national):
Social: more positive position of authorities (local and national) on the need to conserve the river
Private sector:
Economic: increased revenues and jobs
Social: increased numbers of tourists following promotional campaigns of Sutjeska.
Protected area manager:
Ecnonomic: increased revenues from ticket sales and accommodations
Social: promotion of Sutjeska National Park, establishment of the cooperation council
Civil society:
Social: activating societies to demand their rights and their networking; a range of initiatives for 7 other rivers; creation of a coalition for the protection of BiH rivers (over 23 societies)
Local population:
Economic: revenues through accommodation and sales of local products
Social: awareness of the values of Sutjeska, their voice has been heard through the campaign, representatives in the cooperation council

Replication and recommendations

Essential things to replication
Inclusion of a wide range of partners
Monitoring deadlines and timely reactions in legal processes
Presentation of the case at the international level
Targeted countering of the decision using multiple tools
Local population as the key actors who can receive timely information.
Local community recognition of the significance and benefits of protected areas.
Perseverance and regular monitoring of legislation.
Ongoing explanations as to the value of the river and nature.

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