Environmental Awareness Media Awards Presented in BiH
The USAID-sponsored Strengthening Governing Institutions and Processes project in Bosnia and Herzegovina (SGIP), announced the winners of its Second Media Award. The goal of the competition is to increase high quality reporting and the level of public discourse on issues related to ongoing public policy development in BiH. The first awards were given for media reporting on foster care issues. This round’s topic is environmental awareness. A five-member jury consisted of experienced representatives of three media outlets, one environmental CSO and the SGIP Media and PR Manager chose the best pieces based on criteria of originality, exclusivity, relevance of sources, quality of reporting and impact. "It is our desire to assist the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism to spread awareness of environmental issues and, specifically, the development of the new Law on Environmental Protection. A better informed and involved public will participate more effectively in the development of the draft Law. We believe that better legislation, informed by expert analysis and informed public input can help us to regulate this area more effectively," said Christian Haupt, Chief of Party for SGIP.
The first prize was awarded to Ms. Sanela Habeš from BH Radio 1 for a radio report on environmental permits which emphasized the importance of such permits to the overall health of citizens and sustained development in Bosnia and Herzegovina. While overly complicated administrative procedures stall foreign investments and development of the country, low environmental standards allow investors to ignore the need for environmental protection and raise the risk of additional pollution. Ms. Habeš’s explained how the new Law on Environmental Protection would streamline the procedure for new permits while assuring adherence to stricter environmental standards. The requirement for three separate permits - environmental, construction and water protection would be replaced by one application and one official permit for all three. At the same time, the new Law would stipulate higher standards of environmental and health protection and penalties for neglecting the standards would be significantly higher.
The second prize went to her colleague, Mr. Mirsad Bajtarević, also from BH Radio 1, who investigated and reported on pollution issues in the Central Bosnia town of Kakanj and presented the problem as related to the increasing incidence of cancer there. There are several ‘dirty’ technology installations in Kakanj, such as thermal power plant and cement making facility, which affect the air and the Zgošća River. Air pollution is frequently at a critical level and it is generally believed that this causes an abnormally high incidence of cancer. Mr. Bajtarević’s report describes government, CSOs and private sector efforts to prevent this in the future and what would be challenges for the new Law on Environmental Protection.
Al Jazeera Balkans reporter, Mr. Sanel Kajan, took third place with a story concentrating on the pollution of the Neretva River and the dangerous aspects of some energy projects there. There are plans to build several new hydroelectric power plants with river dams in Neretva and Mr. Kajan’s report presented possible environmental consequences for the region.
Posted January 21, 2015