“Clean Vrbas” campaign
After Bugojno, Uskoplje, Jajce and Donji Vakuf, the “Clean Vrbas” Eco Regatta passed through Banja Luka, its fourth stop on a five-day voyage down the Vrbas river. In all the municipalities the Regatta has been accompanied by street events to inform citizens about the problem of pollution in the Vrbas river, but also to actively engage them in finding solutions to this vital issue for the population of the Vrbas river basin.
“We are pleased with the turnout because we find it important to raise awareness of the need to care for the Vrbas river as a valuable asset shared by a great number of people. However, the campaign we are now conducting and the project it is a part of both go even further, beyond clean water. We want to show people that by caring about the Vrbas river and the environment in general they actually care about themselves and their families, and by protecting the river they can do a lot for themselves and their loved ones – in terms of healthier as well as more prosperous life”, said Goran Vukmir, UNDP BiH Portfolio Manager.
The “Clean Vrbas” Eco Regatta is a part of a project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) BiH in partnership with the Government of Japan and the “Coca-Cola” company, and is aimed at protecting the environment in the context of sustainable development.
In previous years the Government of Japan has provided support to the development of several projects in the Vrbas river basin aimed at protecting the environment and developing eco-tourism in BiH. The joint project with the United Nations Development Programme and the “Coca-Cola” company is a continuation of these activities, whose ultimate purpose is the promotion of sustainable development.
“The main support provided by the Japanese government to BiH is to encourage sustainable economic development while protecting the environment. Vrbas is a beautiful river that offers great potential for economic development in the region. As the Government of Japan has a previous history of supporting the development of eco-tourism projects in the Vrbas river basin, it will now provide KM 1.3 million through the project that is implemented in collaboration with UNDP. This project will have several important activities, such as: raising public awareness about environmental protection, cleanup activities, installation of small wastewater treatment facilities, implementation and enforcement of environmental regulations, and support to the development of adventure sports and tourism activities that contribute to sustainable development and employment of the population in rural areas”, said Yoshiaki Makino, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in BiH.
The importance of environmental protection and promotion of sustainable development in local communities is also the goal of the “Coca-Cola” company, which joined the partnership project with the United Nations Development Programme and the Government of Japan in the Vrbas river basin as part of its corporate social responsibility activities.
“Taking care of water is one of Coca-Cola’s priorities in the region, but also globally, and our efforts are focused on three key areas – reducing the amount of water used in the production of beverages, coordination of all production processes for efficient water use, and investment in community development projects aimed at water protection. In accordance with these guidelines, we are glad that by participating in the “Clean Vrbas” project we have the opportunity to draw attention to the importance of water protection and help the local community in this initiative aimed at cleaning up the Vrbas river and raising awareness of its importance for local development”, said Boška Trbojević , Director of the Public Affairs and Communication Department for Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Coca-Cola HBC Hrvatska d.o.o.
In addition to the activities such as street events and raising public awareness among the local population, the regatta will be accompanied by the cleaning of solid waste on the riverbanks with the aim of further highlighting the need for local people and institutions in the local communities to understand the scope of the problem, the existing threats, but also the opportunities that lie ahead if they pool their efforts to preserve the Vrbas River and its banks.