Manana Kochladze on protests

Luxembourg, Prague, Tbilisi – Representatives from the “Stop Nenskra” campaign [1] showed up in Luxembourg at the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) annual meeting on July 12th and delivered a petition to the international development banks calling them on not to finance the Nenskra hydropower plant project [2] in Svaneti, Georgia.

The petition, which aims to protect a precious river valley in Svaneti from the construction of a 280 MW hydropower plant with a 125m high dam, included over 89 000 signatures from the international community. It targeted two European banks, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Europeans called on the banks to pull out of the controversial project that threatens to damage the pristine environment and livelihood of local villagers, and which would create considerable economic risks for the country, as confirmed by a recently leaked contract between the Georgian government and the company behind the Nenskra project [3], as well as earlier reports by the International Monetary Fund [4] and the World Bank [5].

Both of the targeted international development banks, the EIB and the EBRD, have approved loans for the Nenskra project, in the amount of USD150 million and USD 214 million respectively, but neither of them have signed the final loan contracts yet.

The petition was initiated by Bankwatch and its member group in Tbilisi, Georgia – Green Alternative. Founder of Green Alternative, Manana Kochladze, who submitted the petition and signatures to EIB and EBRD representatives in Luxembourg, said:

“This petition showed the power of global support, how tens of thousands of Europeans raised their voices for the local indigenous people of Svaneti and stood in solidarity for their protest. If implemented, the Nenskra hydropower plant could cause irreparable damage to the untouched river and mountain ecosystem in Svaneti.  It would deprive the local indigenous communities of their ancestral lands. Along with this, the Nenskra project will cause fiscal risks for the country, a proper environmental assessment has not been conducted, it does not comply with the country’s legislation and its processes are not transparent. We believe that all of these reasons, along with the massive public outcry against Nenskra will be enough evidence for the international development banks to reconsider their financial support and pull out of this controversial project.”

Notes for editors:

[1] https://act.wemove.eu/campaigns/stop-nenskra-en

[2] https://bankwatch.org/nenskra

[3] https://bankwatch.org/press_release/in-georgia-leaked-contract

[4] https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2017/09/27/Georgia-Fiscal-Transparency-Evaluation-45274

[5] http://greenalt.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Assessment_of_HPP_Cost_2018.pdf