• Blog Post

    Local communities at the heart of environmental justice $74,000


    Funds Sources: RUF Funds

    Project Name: Local communities at the heart of environmental justice

    Community Partner:  Asociatia Bankwatch (ProfileWebsite)

    Starting Date: August 2022

    Financing: FINANCED

    Project Status: Finished

    Total Project Budget: $74,000

    Financed by RUF: $74,000


    Short Description:

    Defending the environment in court has never been more needed in Romania than today. Aggressions against rivers, forests, and habitats by (mostly) energy infrastructure developers are becoming more frequent and with stronger political backing, while their frontline defenders - local communities, NGOs, and environmental lawyers - remain a handful.
    Bankwatch Romania is
    hosting the country’s first environmental law clinic until March 2024. By then, the goal is that some of the currently 15 participants in the clinic (law students, young lawyers) or new participants will become environmental law practitioners. They are currently coordinated and involved in a couple of cases by Bankwatch’s in-house lawyer, with over 15 years of experience in strategic environmental litigation.



    For years, we witnessed how European Directives are transposed into national legislation with intentional loopholes; how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refuses to release information on big polluters' activity or how it grants operating permits to projects whose environmental impact has not been assessed; or how the Environmental Guard remains blind to environmental aggressions that take place outside of working hours.

    To learn how to build strategic litigation cases on environmental matters, the Law Clinic works with specific cases signaled by affected communities, such as the permitting of the limestone quarry in Pestisani, Gorj county. The presence of local resistance on the ground is crucial in any environmental case, not only because it gives it moral authority but also because we can

    know in real-time what is going on, even when the EPA withholds information.
    The set up of Valea Bistritei NGO in Pestisani to contribute to the local community’s well being and to protect the natural and cultural heritage locally is a great example of civic engagement, which Bankwatch aims to support.

    This project will not only build Valea Bistritei’s capacity to navigate in environmental processes with Bankwatch’s guidance - access to information, participation in public consultations, access to justice, assessment of environmental factors etc. - but it will also support the young lawyers enrolled in the Law Clinic to grow their expertise and expand the number of cases they work on, by liaising with affected communities and collecting the evidence first hand.


  • Blog Post

    Connecting Valea Bistriței $83,004

    Funds Sources: RUF donor

    Project Name: Connecting Valea Bistritei

    Community Partner:  Station Europe (ProfileWebsite )

    Starting Date: June 2022

    Financing: FINANCED

    Project Status: Finished

    Total Project Budget: $83,004

    Financed by RUF: $83,004


    Project in Numbers:

    • 8 months of project implementation
    • 7 activities for the local community in the region of Valea Bistritei coordinated by Station Europe
    • 275 direct beneficiaries: children and young people from the community
    • 5000+ people from the region were exposed to the project and learned about preserving their natural environment


    Short Description:

    Together with Valea Bistritei Foundation, we intend to recruit, train, and mobilize around 60 children and young people from these rural communities. Those will learn about their natural environments and the know-how to preserve them. We wish to achieve this by connecting them to both nature and social platforms. In short, we want to create an army of informed young people and children, aware and trained on how to do good around them.



    Children and young people from rural communities in Romania have difficulty connecting with nature's necessities and understanding its potential and how to take care of it. With this project, we seek to support and empower children and young people from Pestisani and Valea Bistritei (Gorj), rural communities from Romania rich in natural resources and beautiful landscapes, to act and stand for their natural environments. Encouraging them to be active in their community is vital for promoting life-long civic participation. We aim to do this by supporting the Valea Bistritei Foundation to connect to and train the young generations to raise their voices on issues that matter to them. In fact, through a basic understanding of the situation, they will be empowered to find solutions to their local problems, thus becoming local ambassadors of the Foundation’s initiatives.

    We will work on the project through two main pillars:

    • Encouraging young people and children to be active in their local communities from Valea Bistritei and Pestisani;
    • Empowering the local actors - Valea Bistritei Foundation - to become a stronger organization engaging the local community in meaningful conversations about its present and future.


  • Blog Post

    Fagaras Mountains become home for bison! $2,185

    Funds Sources: Environment Campaign

    Project Name: Fagaras Mountains become home for bison

    Link: Facebook Fundraiser

    Community Partner: Conservation Carpathia (ProfileWebsite )

    Starting Date: April 2021

    Financing: Funded

    Project Status: In Development

    Total Project Budget: $45,000 (incl. non-RUF sources)


     Donate to the project


    Short Description:

    The Zimbri (Water Buffaloes) have been missing from Romania for the past 200 years, however, they were successfully recently reintroduced in the southeast and north of the Romanian Carpathians. Carpathia extends this endeavor and takes on the mission to restore the free Zimbri population from scratch in the area of Fagaras mountains and is raising money to bring 20 more zimbri to Romania this year.


    𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐧 remains a symbol of Romania. Strong and majestic, this animal, present in national history and folklore, has been prized by Romanians for hundreds of years.
    Bison disappeared from Romania about 200 years ago, and in recent years has been successfully reintroduced in the South-Eastern and Northern parts of the Romanian Carpathians.
    𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐚 is extending this endeavor and assuming the mission of restoring the population of free bison in the Southern Carpathians in the Făgăraș Mountains area. The bison returns home with a beneficial influence on nature and living in harmony with man.
    According to specialists, to be considered a successful reintroduction of a missing species, about 100 specimens are necessary to thrive and breed freely in the wild without human intervention. Since May 2020, the first eight bison have been roaming free as part of the Conservation Carpathia project.


  • Blog Post

    Fighting Back Against Air Pollution $1,870