Even though this year the official international Big Jump event was cancelled on the European level because of the coronavirus pandemic , it did not stop people of Bosnia and Herzegovina from showing that they truly care about their rivers and nature. On in total 20 locations all around the country, with the support of the organizing Coalition for the Protection of Rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, participating citizens expressed their disagreement with the current hydropower plant boom.
Unbelievable number of 400 hydropower plants, which are projected in Bosnia and Herzegovina despite their destructive impact on the environment. That is one of the main reasons why the organizers wanted to attract the attention on the much-needed river protection. The swimming event for anyone who enjoys the beauty and fun that the rivers can and should be providing, started on Sunday July 12th, precisely at 11:55 a.m., symbolizing the ‘5 to 12’ situation in saving local rivers.
“We are so happy that even though the weather was not exactly the best for jumping into the rivers and lakes, there were dozens of people who decided to join the Big Jump. It is always awesome and supportive to see people from different communities gathering around the rivers and having great time, moreover for a good cause. Also as the COVID-19 restrictions are still in effect in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the biggest ‘crowd’ was about 20 people in Fojnica, but we know there is way more people caring about the destiny of our rivers. That motivates us in our activity and we hope it will become a tradition in the coming years,” says biologist Saudin Merdan, a member of the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers and president of the Dr. Stjepan Bolkay Centre organization.
“Recently - and also during the Big Jump itself - we were celebrating great news, when the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina  voted to ban the construction of new hydropower plants . But we are not going to rest on laurels. By attending the Big Jump and many other similar activities, citizens consistently show us it is important to them and they want to be a part of the decision-making process in environmental questions. This, together with standing against inconsiderate build-up of new hydropower plants, is our main goal. So even though in this case it is step-by-step rather than a ‘big jump’, we keep working hard on making this more frequent and common in everyday practice,” explains Zuzana Vachůnová from the Czech NGO Arnika, which cooperates with the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers.
 Individual actions were left for consideration by local groups according to local restrictions. On the European level, the Big Jump event is coordinated by the European Rivers Network.
 Bosnia and Herzegovina is formed of two constitutional “entities” established on ethnic principles – the Republika Srpska (a Serbian entity) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (a Bosniak-Croat entity). The central government ties both of them together in a fragile state. A vote of the Parliament of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is binding only for the state authorities in the respective part of the country and also has limited power over cantons – relatively independent administrative units of the Federation with their own governments and ministries.
 See the full Declaration for the Protection of Western Balkans Rivers here.