World Environment Day: We Must Protect Valuable Karst Underground Containing 70% of Croatian Drinking Water Reserves
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), following the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972. The Conference emphasized the importance of sustainable development aimed at environmental protection, prevention of the further air, soil and water pollution, flora and fauna conservation and the protection of human lives and health.
To commemorate this event, World Environment Day is marked annually around the world on 5 June. This year’s campaign is running under the motto #OnlyOneEarth with the aim of inspiring collective action at the global level to achieve concrete change in people’s lives, and, thus, contribute to the protection and restoration of our planet currently faced with a triple crisis – pollution, the reduction of biodiversity and the destruction of natural habitats as well as the consequences of climate change. Sustainable change is to be achieved primarily through the adoption and the implementation of efficient public policies necessary for the economic transformation and the establishment of the “green” economies.
Protection of the right to a healthy life and a healthy environment is an important part of our institution’s work. In 2021 we worked on 134 newly opened cases in the area of environmental protection and its impacts on the exercise of the right to a healthy life.
The preservation of the underground formations and speleological objects is especially important, taking into account the fact that up to 70% of Croatia’s drinking water reserves are stored in the porous karst, which, due to its characteristics is very susceptible to pollution, for example, from various chemical products used in agriculture (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides) or the illegal dumping of various types of waste into the caves and pits. The latter is a long-term problem, reflected in the fact that the speleological initiative “The Clean Underground” documented as many as 938 illegal dumping sites in caves and pits and recovered 276 cubic meters of waste from 46 of them.
To address this issue, we recommended that the competent Ministry ensure the necessary capacities and step up the monitoring of the speleological objects in the Republic of Croatia. Our detailed analysis and evaluation of the situation with respect to the right to a healthy life and a healthy environment as well as all of our related recommendations are available in our 2021 Annual Report. (in Croatian)
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