The legitimacy of ever-growing concern about possible consequences of the trend of global warming is still being questioned by some, however, despite this non-sense, the movement of those who want to give a hand in this fight is becoming more proactive. Besides the fact that today the biggest world polluters are not constrained sufficiently by international law on environment protection, different comments and statements, regardless ironic or ignorant, depicture miniature level of environmental consciousness and immense negligence. However, it made me think of how an ecosystem doesn`t forgive, but seeks revenge, and like a boomerang turns back in order to show how it is to be treated badly. Then I saw that massive protests and collective actions are on the rise, aiming to increase awareness about the importance of environment conservation. The protest in Sweden led by a girl still in primary school and an action of about 1.5 million volunteers in India who planted 66 million trees in twelve hours turned my perspective from judging towards devising constructive ideas and potentially solutions. It actually reminded me of how any individual contribution towards environment protection is precious, and how we can all turn into heroes of our natural environment by treating it diligently and acting protectively. In other words, besides thinking globally, we should act locally in order to be able to understand the importance of it and make real change.
Montenegro, as a developing country is facing many environmental challenges. Some of these are embodied in the inherent tensions between environmental and economic goals. The negotiating Chapter 27 of the EU Acquis refers to the protection of environment and it was the last chapter which Montenegro managed to open last year. It contains massive legislation, strict standards states should adopt. However, it`s not only work politicians and lawyers should perform. On the contrary, the process of alignment with these standards is rather of a substantive nature, which means bringing fresh air/real change in our attitude towards environment, which starts from the changes in our habits. I believe that even small things like, avoiding littering, taking care of our gardens, or balconies, planting trees and flowers would make our surroundings a more pleasant and beautiful place to spend time and have a positive impact on the environment. Moreover, some governmental initiatives, and support towards creating conditions for waste recycling, prohibition of plastic bags, or making them more expensive, would be meaningful steps in that regard.
The construction of small hydropower plants provides for a good example depicturing conflicting economic and ecological goals in Montenegro. More precisely, in certain ecosystems, such as the canyon of river Crmnica, hydropower construction has been estimated to be very dangerous and potentially destructive for numerous endemic species inhabiting this area. An NGO from Montenegro revealed and problematized the case of river Crmnica last year, questioning the effectiveness of cross-border cooperation, thus implicating the responsibility and lack of environment awareness of both states, Montenegro and Albania, which host the canyon of this river. This case is still an issue for the relevant civic organizations in Montenegro, who await the Government’s response and possible actions.
Seldom attempts of construction of buildings on historical or natural sites also provokes attention of the ordinary people, the media, NGO’s, and represent another example of environmental challenges Montenegro faces. The last example is given in the coastal city of Bar, where people are protesting against the construction of a kindergarten that is planned at the site of a park that hosted very old cypress trees, cut few weeks ago in order to make room for the construction works. The people who protest maybe speak from a local perspective, or from their personal angles, biased by memories about their students’ days or lectures delivered in the park with the famous cypress trees. If we slightly lift the level of our understanding of these protests, we can recognize a transcendent deep message of the essential need to protect the environment, to which the population is strongly tied.
In this and every social movement there is a vanguard. This is formed by those who protest, who raise awareness, who slam home the message that change needs to happen. We need a generation willing to stand up and speak for the planet in a unified way and whose actions would be visible especially on local level. May this and any “environmentally friendly” movements spread until we have no choice but to pay attention and change governments`, and corporations’ ways of diminishing quality of our life’s, or endangering it !
Author: Bojana Lalatović