Youth Forum Bitola is an NGO working for the citizens of Macedonia. The organization was established in 1999 by a group of young people, whose goal was to create something new to reply to the needs of the young population. Youth Forum Bitola is a regional organization and their activities and projects take place in the city of Bitola. The organization’s work mainly focuses on supporting artists and various cultural activities, supporting activities focused on the democratization of society, fighting for human rights, and fighting against all forms of discrimination, as well as analyzing and informing people about the current situation of youth in Macedonia. The organization promotes social involvement in making important decisions concerning young people.
Through its activities, Youth Forum simplifies cooperation between locally governed territories and NGOs and shares with them the problems of young people, as well as ways to solve these problems. The organization also manages ecological education projects and is a member of the National Coalition of Youth Organizations SEGA.
Youth Forum Bitola also runs a campaign dealing with the lignite open-pit mine and power plant found near the city of Bitola. The organization mainly struggles with the problem of air pollution caused by the burning of coal in the power plant, but also with the problem of low emissions. They have opened up a debate about the subject of air contamination due to the burning of lignite, as well as its effects on health. This has caught the interest of local media and the local community. They also address subjects such as the EU’s green policies and alternatives to burning coal. In one report, it has been shown that the transition of all of Macedonia to RES would cost 3 billion Euros.
They are currently working with doctors and other experts, as well as several local media, who are helping them diffuse this information. Youth Forum Bitola is also a participant of the COHERIS project, which deals with environmental quality standards.
The organization has a good, informal relationship with the local authorities, who, however, do not risk conflict with the largest power plant and local employer of Macedonia. The organization does not currently have any official data concerning the exact amount of particulate emissions or other pollutants, nor the various sources of these pollutants. This type of data is not published. Youth Forum Bitola plans on carrying out research on this and producing a report in the immediate future.
Position on the International Coalition project “Development Yes – Opencast Mines No”:
- they are interested in collaborating; they believe the coalition to be a good idea and necessary;
- they wish to remain in contact and to be informed of the project’s progress;
- an important thing is sharing different countries’ experiences on an international level.