Save guarding Europe’s last wild rivers

Confluence of European Water Bodies supports Protest Camp Save Komarnica in Montenegro

Each waterbody tells its own story. Montenegro’s water stories are as wondrous as they are unknown. From the murky whirlpools in the improbably blue Black Lake near Žabljak, to the many natural springs and waterfalls in Durmitor National Park. From the Tara River winding through a kilometer-deep gorge, to the fresh water of the underground rivers mixing with the Adriatic Sea in the fjords at Kotor bay. Mountainous and sparsely populated Montenegro has relatively little industry and intensive agriculture. This allows several wild rivers to flow freely through the country – some of the last in Europe. Without dams, wharves or detour, these rivers provide both clean drinking water and a habitat for hundreds of organisms.

Protest Camp Save Komarnica

But this unique wild state is under pressure. For this reason, Montenegrin activists, supported by delegates from the Embassy of the North Sea and the Confluence of European Water Bodies gathered on the shores of Lake Poscenska from May 1 – 5, 2024 to protest the construction of the planned hydroelectric plant in the Komarnica River. The government is promising compensation schemes and jobs to local people in this sparsely populated area. And although the construction of this dam will have a devastating and irreversible impact on the entire ecosystem, residents are not insensitive to this – as it is promised – economic boost. Many people in the region feel forgotten and want to be included in economic developments. The action camp therefore focuses on exploring sustainable alternatives to entrepreneurship and development of new potential such as: ecolodges, ecotourism, kayak tours, mountain sports or maintenance of natural parks where the big five (eagle, bear, wolf deer and wild boar) relatively carefree life.

‘Nurture this so rare pristine aquatic ecosystem’ we want to call out to Montenegro from the rest of Europe. But how can we do that without being guilty of a form of moral colonialism? The Confluence of European Water Bodies will support the struggle of local Montenegrin activists to the best of its ability and will help explore what legal personhood can do for these last wild rivers of Europe.


The Confluence of European Water Bodies, a network of water bodies from across Europe unites to represent Europe’s rivers, seas and lakes legally, culturally and politically. Participating water bodies are: Akerselva (NO), Drina (SRB), Klarälven (SE), Loire (FR), Mar Menor (ES), Mediterranean Sea, Moraca and Tara rivers (ME), North Sea (NL), Pek (SRB), Rhone (CH), Senne (BE), Spree (DE), Tejo (PRT), Venice Lagoon (IT), Vistula (PL), Reuss (CH) and Viskan & Lake Vättern (SE).

The second edition of the Confluence of European Water Bodies is scheduled from October 3-7, 2024 in Venice, in collaboration with TBA21-Academy and Ocean Space. More information about the programme will follow soon!