On 20th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster, Director-General reiterates UNESCO’s commitment to disaster mitigationOn the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster of 26 April 1986, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koďchiro Matsuura, reiterated UNESCO’s commitment to disaster mitigation and the Organization’s determination to continue supporting work on the effects of the worst nuclear accident in history.
“UNESCO is committed to pursuing work on disaster mitigation,” the Director-General announced, “and to continue supporting the efforts of the governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine to reduce the effects of the tragedy that has claimed so many lives and caused an upheaval to so many others.”
“International cooperation is clearly required to deal with the Chernobyl disaster whose effects will last for decades,” the Director-General added. “UNESCO is willing to continue taking part in the UN-led effort to help reduce the impact of this catastrophe, as it did during the first decade when it contributed to the establishment of psychological and social rehabilitation centres in affected areas.”
“It in this spirit of solidarity and international cooperation that UNESCO’s General Conference last year decided to contribute seed funding to support scientific activities by the national Science Academies of Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation to analyze the long-term effects of chronic exposure to radiation on human beings and biota,” Mr Matsuura said.
The Director-General’s statement comes just ahead of the launch of a two-year project for the Establishment of a Transboundary Biosphere Reserve and a Regional Ecological Network in Polesie (an area in the southwest of the east European lowlands encompassing parts of Belarus, Poland, the Russian Federation and Ukraine).
Funded by the Government of Japan, the project involves Belarus, Poland and Ukraine. It will generate new scientific knowledge and contribute to the conservation of water resources and biodiversity in Polesie. The project is at once a transboundary biosphere reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and an ecological network in terms of the Convention on Biological Diversity and of its European component, the Pan-European Ecological Network (PEEN).
The project will contribute to conservation and recovery of biodiversity while creating opportunities for economic development in Polesie, particularly in Belarus and Ukraine where large areas of land have been lost to agricultural production because of nuclear fall-out from Chernobyl.