The Green Squad

2,000 Euro Prize 2020

Country: Croatia

Region: throughout Croatia, City of Zagreb, Zagreb County

Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy

Fields of action: Awareness raising, Legal protection, Environmental protection

Project owner: ViDrA – Veterani i društvena akcija

Responsible person: Vesna Grgić

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Challenge

Zeleni odred (“The Green Squad”) fights to preserve Croatia's forests and natural resources by revealing to the public the misconduct, legal violations, and non-transparency of the Croatian national forestry. Zeleni odred calls out against the irresponsibility and failure of the governing authorities to comply with legal frameworks and regulations.

Idea

Zeleni odred is distinguished by its continuous and frequent public actions. We collect and document the situation on the ground; we report suspicious actions in the forests and irregularities within the official documentation of the responsible institutions.

Actors

Zeleni odred was created and launched by five members of the Croatian Association of Veterans and Social Action (ViDrA). They were later joined by other ViDrA members, insider experts, and whistleblowers such as foresters, lawyers, journalists, and activists; artists and a growing number of the public, who actively participate in viral protests and public actions.

Impact

Through regularly monitoring and reporting the numerous violations of the Croatian forestry’s management, we have propelled and mobilised a wide circle of the public. A series of persistent viral protests and public actions resulted in the termination of numerous damaging contracts and reduced the illicit resale of timber.

Transfer

The harmful management of Croatian forests is part of a broader problem of corruption that is causing the crisis of democracy everywhere. Although Zeleni odred activists are exposed to daily harassment and media censorship blockades, we continue to organise public actions, media reports, file lawsuits in court, and continue to raise international pressure on the authorities.

Appreciation of the Jury

ViDrA is a one of a kind veterans' association: the Croatian organization advocates for change neither from nationalism nor conflict, but from a commitment to society and the environment. Its section Zeleni odred stands strong as a complex social innovation. Its numerous public campaigns and precise documentation of the state-owned forestry denounce corruption, as well as the destruction of forests/natural resources and the livelihoods of small family farming communities. Besides advocating for change both through politics and in court, Zeleni odred serves as a beacon for others because it cooperates with similar initiatives in neighbouring countries with which it shares a common struggle for ecological and social goals.