Resolving the legacy of uranium mining in Central Asia has become urgent. The countries with the support of the EU call for prompt and further action.
The unprecedented release of toxic and radioactive waste must be prevented not only for the well-being of the local population, but also to avoid that the breadbasket of Central Asia: the Fergana valley is being polluted. This densely populated area in Central Asia is of crucial significance for the development of the region.
The EU-led international programme that aims to solve the problems in seven priority sites in Central Asia has reached a decisive stage. The EU has worked closely with the Governments concerned in Central Asia and with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN development Program (UNDP) on all these issues. Plans have been endorsed by the Governments.
Important events will take place in the coming months to present the solutions and financing.
In the margins of the General Conference of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) on 18 September 2018 a high-level side event took place whereby all relevant remediation programs bringing solutions for Central Asia was presented and discussed. A Strategic Master Plan as completed and endorsed was also a key part of the exchanges.
At the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) an International Donors’ Conference, will be held on 8 November 2018 in London. The bank is in charge of the Environmental Remediation Account (ERA) especially created to finance environmental remediation projects in Central Asia.
The major aim of the donors’ conference is to overcome the current funding gap of EUR 70 million to support remediation work at the seven priority sites in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
In effect, the EU-led regional environmental remediation program serves the population of all Central Asian countries, and contributes namely:
to promote regional cooperation;
to maintain peace and stability in the region;
to improve human health;
to improve the quality of the environment;
to promote economic development, in particular local employment.
The program also contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – especially SDG 3 "Good Health and Well-Being", SDG 6 "Clean Water and Sanitation" and SDG 15 "Life on Land".
In 2013, the UN already recommended financial support from the international community, in order to bring solutions to the region. Moreover, under the initiative of the Kyrgyz Republic, a draft UN General Assembly resolution to ask for international support has been technically prepared.
This draft resolution was discussed on 27 September 2018, during a high-level side event in New York, in the margins of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. At this event the final steps towards concrete remediation actions was presented as well as ways on how to overcome the current funding gap of EUR 70 million. Remediation works are planned to start in 2019.
Commissioner Neven Mimica in charge of International Cooperation and Development was a key speaker at the event emphasising that now it is time to put the paperwork into real work – and bring real change to the region.
- Environmental Remediation - Central Asia calls for support
- Environmental remediation efforts in Central Asia (Russian version)
- Factsheet on environmental remediation in Central Asia (Russian version)
- Strategic Master Plan for Environmental Remediation of Nuclear Legacy Sites in Central Asia
- Central Asia environmental remediation sites (Russian version)
For more information please contact Martin Andersen, senior programme manager at the European Commission.