UN proclaims “decade of sustainable development” for Chernobyl

New York, 19 November 2007—The United Nations General Assembly is today expected to adopt a resolution proclaiming the period to 2016 as a “decade of recovery and sustainable development” for territories in Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine that were affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. The goal of the decade is “a return to normal life” for affected communities. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been tasked with drafting a unified UN action plan and coordinating UN work on the decade.


“Working closely with the three national governments, our goal is to do what we can to ensure that by the end of the third decade after the Chernobyl accident, life in the affected regions returns to normal, communities take control of their fates, and the area at last overcomes the stigma associated with the disaster,” said Kemal Dervis, the UNDP Administrator and UN Coordinator of International Cooperation on Chernobyl.


The resolution embraces the forward-looking findings of a new report on Chernobyl by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, which concludes that, “after two decades, a return to normal life is a realistic prospect for most people living in Chernobyl-affected regions.”


The UN resolution underlines the daunting challenges that the region still faces, but underscores that a “developmental approach,” focusing on such efforts as job creation, investment promotion, and community development, holds potential solutions.


It also notes the importance of conveying to local populations the “message of reassurance” provided by the UN Chernobyl Forum, a joint initiative of eight UN agencies and the three most-affected countries. The Forum concluded in 2005 that people living in the affected territories need not live in fear of serious health consequences from the accident. This finding offers the hope that providing better information to the public will ease pervasive fears arising from myths and misconceptions about radiation.


The resolution also welcomes the appointment earlier this year of Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova as a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador. Sharapova’s efforts have focused on delivering an upbeat message of recovery, self-reliance, and healthy choices to young people in the Chernobyl-affected territories, where she has family roots. Sharapova is expected to visit a number of UNDP project sites in the affected regions in 2008.


Finally, the resolution notes the significant progress made recently in the long-running effort to transform the damaged Chernobyl reactor and its surroundings into a stable and environmentally safe site, and stresses the urgency of completing this task successfully.


The Secretary-General will report back to the General Assembly on the progress of the “decade of sustainable development” and other Chernobyl recovery efforts in 2010.


UNDP and Chernobyl


As the coordinating agency for UN work on Chernobyl, UNDP spearheads efforts in three priority areas: information provision, including promotion of healthy lifestyles; community-based social and economic development, supporting initiatives aimed at improving welfare and encouraging self-reliance; and policy advice and advocacy.


The General Assembly resolution, the Secretary-General’s 2007 report to the General Assembly on Chernobyl, and other documents may be found at www.undp.org/chernobyl


For media inquiries please contact: in New York, Stanislav Saling, +1 212 906 5296 or stanislav.saling@undp.org; in Moscow, Snizhana Kolomiiets, +7 495 787 2235 or snizhana.kolomiiets@undp.org 87 21 15, victoria.zotikova@undp.org.


Northeast Asia is a vast geographic region which offers enormous potential for investment and job opportunities. The Tumen River ties together this vast region and is at the crossroads of trade and vital transport routes. Rich in gas, oil and minerals, the Greater Tumen Region has easy access to affluent markets in the GTI five member countries and Japan, representing over 500 million consumers.


The Greater Tumen Initiative is a regional cooperation mechanism established in 1995 by China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea (ROK), Mongolia and Russia, and supported by the United Nations Development Programme. It is a unique intergovernmental platform for economic cooperation and exchanges in Northeast Asia and serves as a catalyst for policy dialogue and cooperation in the areas of transportation, energy, tourism, investment and environment.


For more information, please visit the GTI website at www.tumenprogramme.org or contact the GTI Secretariat and its Director Ms Nataliya Yacheistova at nataliya.yacheistova@undp.org or by phone at +86 10 6532 6871