It was a privilege to talk with Ana Colovic Lesoska, a Goldman Environmental Prize winner and Executive Director at Eko-svest at the IUCN earlier this month.
Ana’s organisation collaborated with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) team to set up a framework to safeguard the ecological, social, and cultural values of freshwater ecosystems. At the heart of this initiative is the conviction that engaging and empowering local communities is critical for effective and durable river protection. Something that is very close to Earth Champions’ heart!
Despite my years of experience scoping best practices in water management around the world, I was shocked to find out that those rivers that have shaped the geography and history of mountainous Montenegro and the wider Western Balkans, have now become some of Europe’s last free-flowing rivers. And now they too are at risk.
Pollution, habitat destruction, climate change, and unsustainable development are part of a worrying trend of destruction.
Macedonia, which has been the dumping ground of wealthier countries, is now fighting back and the protected area in the Zeta Valley Nature Park is TNC’s solution to heal this freshwater eco-system and ensure it thrives for years to come.
It is heartening to witness the localised uprisings such as this around the world. There is no doubt this is the only way to achieve meaningful and long lasting change. Ana’s inspiring actions, along with a team of like-minded people, shines hope on the future of the planet’s precious water resources.