INTRO

“We rarely meet people from the outside who think like us” were the words of Gelver Zapata, one of the leaders of the Arhuaco communities. This is maybe the most touching compliment we have ever received because the indigenous peoples from the mountain of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta see things from a different point of view, than the one led by the economic model of infinite GDP growth. They believe they are here to preserve the stability of the planet, and cannot imagine a life mission that would make more sense. Visiting the Colombian communities that are impacted by coal exploitation in their own backyard allowed us to testify exactly how our behavior and habits in Croatia affect the stability and quality of one’s life on the other side of the planet, and thus on the ecosystem in general. Namely, Croatia has been importing coal from Colombia for the production of electricity in the Plomin coal power plant, while mining has a huge impact on environment and local communities in the Cesar department. In fact, all of the coal that came to Croatia from Colombia in 2016 was from that particular department.

Due to climate changes the whole human community is facing heavy challenges and transition to the instability zone, as well as crossing other planetary boundaries, such as the biodiversity loss. Therefore, we must turn to localization of production and consumption, as well as to solidarity within the community we belong to, and wider. This is an inevitable measure of adaptation to a more unstable ecosystem if we want to maintain (or achieve) the state of relative peace and quality of life. For Croatia, in terms of energy production, this would specifically mean turning to the local resources we have in abundance and to the production of energy from the sun and other renewable sources instead of coal.

Marina Kelava

INTRO

“We rarely meet people from the outside who think like us” were the words of Gelver Zapata, one of the leaders of the Arhuaco communities. This is maybe the most touching compliment we have ever received because the indigenous peoples from the mountain of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta see things from a different point of view, than the one led by the economic model of infinite GDP growth. They believe they are here to preserve the stability of the planet, and cannot imagine a life mission that would make more sense. Visiting the Colombian communities that are impacted by coal exploitation in their own backyard allowed us to testify exactly how our behavior and habits in Croatia affect the stability and quality of one’s life on the other side of the planet, and thus on the ecosystem in general. Namely, Croatia has been importing coal from Colombia for the production of electricity in the Plomin coal power plant, while mining has a huge impact on environment and local communities in the Cesar department. In fact, all of the coal that came to Croatia from Colombia in 2016 was from that particular department.

Due to climate changes the whole human community is facing heavy challenges and transition to the instability zone, as well as crossing other planetary boundaries, such as the biodiversity loss. Therefore, we must turn to localization of production and consumption, as well as to solidarity within the community we belong to, and wider. This is an inevitable measure of adaptation to a more unstable ecosystem if we want to maintain (or achieve) the state of relative peace and quality of life. For Croatia, in terms of energy production, this would specifically mean turning to the local resources we have in abundance and to the production of energy from the sun and other renewable sources instead of coal.

Marina Kelava

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Project “Financing development and developing finance for EYD2015: a Pan-European campaign to align European investments in developing countries with the post-2015 MDG framework and the EU policies that promote sustainable growth and poverty reduction” aims to bring development issues closer to citizens of new EU member states, to challenge the attitudes of decision-makers and to encourage broad citizen participation in debates on European and national finance and policies for more sustainable energy and infrastructure, management of natural resources, and tax justice at the global level. Also, it promotes a new perspective among EU citizens with regard to fairer relations with developing countries, seeking to safeguard human rights and ensure social equality and sustainable livelihoods.

As one of 20 civil society organizations from 16 European countries working on this EUR 3.5 million worth project, Association Green Istria focused on the coal chain between Croatia and Colombia, as Colombia has been one of the most important sources of coal for the power plant in Plomin since 1999, when Croatia started relying on imported coal, predominantly used for electric power generation. In past seven years, Colombia supplied Croatia with, in average, 38 percent of total imported thermal coal, thus becoming the second most relevant source of this energy resource for Croatia.

Yet hardly anyone in Croatia is aware of this, and still less are they aware of the impacts on communities living near the mines, or next to the coal ports at the Carribean coast, where coal is loaded onto ships that sail towards the distant Europe, as well as other parts of the world.

In order to expose the devastating effects of coal extraction and trade, especially the impacts on communities in Colombia, Green Istria produced a widely endorsed short animated films, “The prisoners of coal” (so far available only in Croatian) and “The real cost of coal” and organized a number of events, such as a photo exhibition “Good Luck! Stories that Come to us with Coal”, the Croatian premiere of “The Good Life” documentary, or the international protest against coal imports and Plomin C power plant.

With support of Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalización and Tierra Digna, Green Istria recently visited Colombian communities negatively affected by coal exploitation and trade, and spoke to a number of representatives of civil society groups and citizen initiatives, indigenous communities’ leaders, coal mining unions and academia. This virtual photo exhibition is set up to remind us of their testimonies, the dramatic effects of natural resources extraction that we learned about firsthand, as well as the need to break the vicious coal chain between Colombia and Croatia.

Project partner:
Association Green Istria
www.zelena-istra.hr
Project coordinator in Croatia:
Dunja Mickov
dunja.mickov@zelena-istra.hr
Project lead partner: CEE Bankwatch Network

Donors: European Commission, Office for the Cooperation with NGOs of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, Istria County, XminusY Solidarity Fund

MARINA KELAVA
homepage

Marina Kelava graduated from the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Zagreb, with a degree in journalism. She participated in the launching of H-Alter internet magazine and worked for several years as the executive editor. She is the winner of the Degenia Velebitica Award of the Croatian Journalists’ Association for the best environmental journalism in 2014, as well as of the “Marco Polo – the famous travel writer” award. Three times she presented her work on the exhibitions of best photojournalism in South East Europe organized by the BETA News Agency. She also held several individual photo exhibitions in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and participated in many group exhibitions.

Ova web stranica izrađena je uz financijsku potporu Europske unije, Ureda za udruge Vlade RH i Istarske županije. Sadržaj ove web stranice isključiva je odgovornost Zelene Istre i ne može se ni pod kojim okolnostima smatrati da odražava stajališta Europske unije, Ureda za udruge Vlade RH i Istarske županije.