Alexandra Solovieva, UNDP Belarus Resident Representative
In 1986 the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power contaminated 23% of Belarus’ territory. To cope with the consequences of the disaster the Government of Belarus joined forces with the international community to support people in the affected districts on their path to recovery. The UN General Assembly adopted 14 resolutions directly connected to the post-Chernobyl challenges.
The systematic support of the government and donors helped to rebuild critical infrastructure, provide support to the healthcare system and create new development opportunities for the affected communities. The lessons from the largest technological nuclear disaster are being shared with other countries that operate nuclear power plants, used by Belarus for fostering development and stand as follows
· The nature - bounced back without human presence. The Poliessie Radioecological Reserve, which covers 2 162 square kilometers, established to enclose the territory of Belarus affected by radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl, provides a unique opportunity to observe the dynamics of flora and fauna recovery, which thrive under virtual absence of humans. Contaminated lands and villages, abandoned more than 30 years ago, have now been consumed completely by nature and naturally transformed into the biggest pristine nature reserve in Europe.
· Human capital - the key for development. Consolidated interventions through budget subsidies, transfer of knowledge and skills, support to innovations (art classes, STEM schools and green schools for youth, centers for agricultural development and sustainable gardening etc.) contributed to the preservation and development of human potential in the regions.
· Projects - the experience and skills generated in the local communities, trigger development and implementation of sustainable local investment projects.
The Resolution of the UN General Assembly of December 8, 2016, empowers UNDP with the coordinating role in the UNDP Inter-Agency Task Force on Chernobyl.
In 2015-2020, UNDP implemented eight large-scale development projects and supported 25 local initiatives with the total budget of over US$ 4 million across such strategic areas as:
- Urban infrastructure and energy efficiency
- Environmental protection
- Health care and active aging
- Tourism and local entrepreneurship
- Waste processing, incl. hazardous wastes
- Gardening and sustainable agriculture (including organic).
UNDP Belarus established a network of regional coordinators, which is a crucial capacity for forging sustainable partnerships with the local experienced NGOs, promoting development efforts in the affected districts.
What is the Chernobyl Investment Platform?
Chernobyl Investment Platform established to support the development of 21 affected regions in Belarus. It unifies efforts of government, private sector, civil society organizations, academic institutions, UN agencies and donors and ultimately citizens to design and implement concepts, initiatives and projects based on local, workable and forward-looking ideas and solutions, leaving no one behind.
With consideration of the previous experience the platform will be based on the following three strategic pillars:
- Information integration with the data on regions and resources, entrepreneurial activity, project and investor profiles, relevant scientific ideas/findings and digital solutions;
- Capacity building through developing and running online and offline educational programs for entrepreneurs, both beginners and experienced;
- Consulting services by academic partners, private sector establishments and international institutions to conduct feasibility study, improve business efficiency and turn local entrepreneurial initiatives into success stories.
From technical assistance to bankable projects and from funding to financing are the two defining changes in the approach to ensure the following benefits.
The platform will generate innovative partnerships and business initiatives/solutions, explore application of best available technologies, management and financing models, including green financing and nature- based solutions for creation of new jobs and development of affected districts, and also bring additional dymanics to SDGs achievement.