Published on June 8, 2021

Lenka Ilcikova gets “Angel of Prievidza” award for her work on just transition

Around Bankwatch, we’ve known for a long time Lenka Ilcikova is an angel, but here it is, official now: authorities of Prievidza have awarded Lenka, a just transition campaigner with Bankwatch and CEPA-Friends of the Earth Slovakia, with the title “angel of Prievidza” for her work on involving local communities in the just transition of Upper Nitra.

For over two years, Lenka has been working on getting local communities in Upper Nitra involved in the planning process for life after coal. It’s been a long ride, with locals at the start completely excluded from the national planning process. In Prievidza, mayor Katarína Macháčková proved to be a true visionary and got together locals interested in the process to start planning there, from the bottom up. In time, these proposals became national strategy, not in the least because of people like Lenka, who repeated time and again that no good proposals can come about if locals – the affected people – are not involved in the design from the start. Lenka was also participating in meeting of local groups, providing inputs and sharing experiences.

For this work, Lenka last night received the “Angel of Prievidza” award from local authorities. The prize is given to people or groups “who have contributed to the development of the city of Prievidza and its inhabitants, have a special role in its promotion, enriched human knowledge with excellent creative achievements, achieved significant results, spread the city’s reputation at home or abroad, or carried out other activities of special interest for the benefit of the city and its inhabitants.”

“I received the award not only as a private person working on projects from the participatory budget of the city, but also as a representative of a non-governmental organization that contributed to the successful process of the transformation document,” Lenka told us the morning after the award ceremony, pointing out that she was one of 15 people who were rewarded.

“For the successful process of preparing the Transformation Action Plan, active membership in working groups and emphasizing the importance of public participation at all levels,” Lenka’s diploma writes.

We couldn’t be more proud. Lenka’s campaigning over the last two years has been an inspiration for activists in the whole central and eastern European region – and even beyond. She proved that, even when it seems voices of citizens will not be heard, it is absolutely worth formulating the needs of local people and demanding that they be heard. In the end, European and national authorities will have to listen. It’s been a true “David versus Goliath” fight, but in the end a success for local participation. Thanks to Lenka and her colleagues.

Watch more about Lenka’s campaigning in the movie here: From local initiative to national strategy: how citizens in Upper Nitra took control of their region’s post-coal future : Just Transition (