As prepared for delivery.
Good morning and welcome to the 2018 meeting of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Chernobyl.
While this is my first IATF as the UNDP Administrator and the UN Coordinator of International Cooperation on Chernobyl, it is the tenth meeting of this kind since UNDP took over the UN system-wide coordination on Chernobyl in 2004.
I am very pleased to welcome many participants who are joining today’s meeting. Let me start with the government representatives of the three countries most affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident:
H.E Mr. Andrei DAPKIUNAS, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus,
Mr. Valentin RYBAKOV, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations,
Mr. Sergey KONONUCHENKO, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations,and Mr. Vitalii BILAN, First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations.
I also welcome the many participants joining us by videoconference: The UN Resident Coordinators and members of two UN Country Teams are joining us from our Country Offices in Minsk and Kyiv. We also have participants joining us from Vienna (UNSCEAR, IAEA, FAO), London (EBRD), Geneva (UNEP), Istanbul (UNV) and Minsk (World Bank). Here in New York I welcome representatives of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UNICEF, WHO, EU and UNDP. I also acknowledge the presence of representatives of the Permanent Missions of Germany, Japan and Kyrgyz Republic.
During today’s meeting, we will receive updates from the key stakeholders on their pertinent Chernobyl related activities, then the floor will be open for questions and comments followed by brief closing remarks.
I am joined here by the Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS, Cihan Sultanoğlu who has been working on this topic for the past few years and has led the partnership with the three most-affected countries and donors in the RBEC region. Ms. Sultanoğlu will take over as chair of the meeting following my departure.
Today’s IATF is an opportunity to:
1. review progress made on Chernobyl related activities since the last IATF in April 2017; and
2. brief each other on the plans made following the adoption of the latest GA resolution on Chernobyl of 8 December 2016 on the “Persistent legacy of the Chernobyl disaster”, which has defined the vision for post-2016 international co-operation on Chernobyl.
This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the Chernobyl accident; its economic, environmental, and social impacts have left deep scars in Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine, some of which are still felt in the areas affected by the Chernobyl accident. This is also an occasion to acknowledge the tremendous recovery efforts achieved by the governments supported by the international community and to take stock of mainstreaming local development activities in the Chernobyl affected communities. While doing so, we also take a moment to remember the heroic efforts of the first responders who rushed to the damaged reactor on 26 April 1986 and sacrificed their lives or their health for the benefit of affected communities.
In this regard, I am pleased to recall that in December 2016, the General Assembly declared 26 of April as “International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day”. This is an important global acknowledgement of the importance of keeping the Chernobyl incident high on the global agenda, drawing lessons from the emergency and recovery responses, and sharing them globally for the benefit of current and future generations. I look forward to hearing from the representatives of the three most affected countries about commemorative events that are being organized in their capitals and here in New York.
The leadership shown by the governments and engagement of local communities and youth of the three affected countries has been a major factor in the success of the post-Chernobyl work. With this commitment, UNDP and the UN family have worked closely together to promote an integrated approach to address the development issues of the affected areas. Building on the 2016 Secretary-General’s report on Chernobyl and in the context of Agenda 2030, UNDP has been supporting local and economic development, environment and local governance activities in the Chernobyl affected areas as part of its larger development programme in Belarus and Ukraine.
Such transition to integrated development work and prioritizing Chernobyl-affected communities in all relevant UNDP and overall UN programming goes hand in hand with the vision and spirit of the SDG 2030 Agenda and the promise of Leaving No One Behind. We will learn more about these innovative approaches and results achieved from the UNCTs in Belarus and Ukraine and the specialized agencies addressing the most pressing needs and priorities of the affected communities.
As both Ukraine and Belarus Governments have embarked on the SDG MAPS approach and are seriously adapting the relevant SDGs to their local contexts, opportunities exist to further integrate and mainstream the Chernobyl priorities in medium and long-term development strategies and programmes at the local level. I want to take the opportunity to recognise that despite the specific challenges, including substantial impact of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 and its aftermath effects, countries have continually invested in education, health, and other social service infrastructure and prioritized economic development and employment opportunities in Chernobyl-affected regions. These observations are stemming from the recently conducted MAPS missions, the conclusions of which will be further discussed at the country level. I wanted to stress this finding as we build our cooperation around long-term development priorities, sustainable growth and the SDGs.
While I am pleased today to assume the responsibility of leading the coordination of the international cooperation of Chernobyl related activities, I would like to emphasize that results can only be achieved in partnership and in collective effort. The concrete outcomes for the people and nature in Chernobyl-affected areas would not be possible without our UN Country Teams, specialized UN agencies, civil society and the international partners and donors. We all continue to engage and support the governments of Belarus and Ukraine to fill the remaining gaps and fully overcome the consequences of the Chernobyl Incident. Next year, another SG report on Chernobyl activities will be due and we will work together to present the results, challenges and lessons learned of our work in this field for the past three years.
The representatives of the governments of the most affected countries – Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, will now deliver their statements.
I invite Mr. Andrei Dapkiunas, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, to please take the floor.