Let’s Help Lake Baikal Stay Clean. UNDP and Coca-Cola support local environmental initiatives

On the World Water Day 22 March 2012, the International Partnership ‘Every Drop Matters’ between the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Coca-Cola company announced a new grant programme to support measures aimed at the preservation and improving access to clean drinking water in Russia. UNDP and Coca-Cola work closely together in 20 countries. Russia is the key region for the ‘Every drop counts’ programme due to the uniqueness and global importance of its natural water resources. No wonder that Lake Baikal has been chosen as the main focus area for the programme’s activities in this country. The funds have been directed towards the implementation of awareness-rising and environmental initiatives that are to reduce the risk of contamination of the deepest and clearest lake in the world.

The grant program has been implemented at Lake Baikal for three years already. During this period, more than 20 mini-projects and local initiatives have been supported including cleaning the coast of the world's largest freshwater lake, separate collection and recycling of waste, providing access to drinking water in rural areas, creating tour routes and infrastructure for eco-tourism (building bridges, cabins, creating eco-trails, constructing recreation and eco-friendly accommodation), as well as promoting environmental education.

All grantees have been non-for-profit organizations. Among those who applied for the grants, received funding, and then were able to implement their ideas are the Association of Teachers-Researchers, Laboratory of Active Tourism, Amateur Football Association of the Republic of Buryatia, Non-Commercial Ecological Organization ‘Turka’, Buryat Association for Baikal, the Youth Art Theatre from Ulan-Ude, Baikal Information Center ‘Gran’, Baikal Ecotourism Association, and Gilbirinskaya high school.

‘A clean beach for Baikal!’, ‘It all starts from the source’, ‘Ecological park ‘Klyuevka’, ‘Modern sewage system for settlements in the UNESCO area’, ‘Holy water of Gilbiry’, ‘Clean beach for future generations’ – the names of these projects speak for themselves. 

“Baikal is one of Russia’s national symbols and treasures. Its preservation and protection are of the highest priority for the government, state and private companies, as well as for environmental organisations. By supporting local initiatives, we cannot completely solve all the problems of Lake Baikal, though we make a small but real contribution to the preservation of the unique water reservoir,” said Natalia Olofinskaya, Head of the Environmental Department, UNDP-Russia. “Local environmental initiatives should be developed and supported, because people who live near Lake Baikal are, in the first place, concerned about maintaining the clarity of its waters and teaching tourists to respect the ‘Holy sea’.”