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The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) originated from the European Union’s Northern Dimension initiative which promotes cooperation between the countries of the Baltic and Arctic Sea regions. The NDEP contributes environmental projects to the initiative, which are financed from a dedicated multilateral fund and loans from several international financial institutions. The NDEP Support Fund was established in July 2002 by the EBRD to pool grant contributions for the improvement of the environment in north-west Russia. Contributors to the Fund are the European Union and 11 countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
One of the most prominent environmental challenges in the region is the risk of contamination and this is being addressed by a special programme of the NDEP Support Fund, called Nuclear Window. The Nuclear Window became operational in May 2003 following the signing of the Multi-Lateral Nuclear Environmental Programme in Russia (MNEPR). It was further supported by the announcement of the G-8 initiative against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction (Kananaskis Summit, Canada, 2002), which gave priority to the safe and secure decommissioning of Russian nuclear submarines.
The objective of the Nuclear Window is to provide funding for projects that will mitigate the legacy of the operation of nuclear-powered ships and submarines of the Northern fleet in Russia that are in different stages of decommissioning. The Nuclear Window complements Russian and bilaterally funded programmes aimed at the decommissioning of nuclear-powered vessels, provision of safe and secure infrastructure for nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel and the environmental rehabilitation of the sites in the region.
Considering the complexity of the task and the pressing safety, security, environmental and financial challenges, the NDEP donors have approved the elaboration of a comprehensive strategy for the region while many urgent projects are pursued in parallel.
The NDEP Assembly of Contributors approved financing of a Strategic Master Plan (SMP) whose elaboration began in 2004. It is a top level work programme that helps decision-makers to define and prioritise projects.
The SMP is being developed as a living document that can be continuously modified according to further experience gained: it allows for critical actions to be launched in time, without impairing the outcome of the whole plan.
So far the SMP has produced an analytical overview of the current state of decommissioning works in north-west Russia and their legal and regulatory framework and established strategic goals and outstanding decisions starting in May 2005. In its further development, the Plan will build on this preliminary analysis in order to finalise the strategy, develop an overall plan and define projects. The SMP already defined the first set of urgent projects for which implementation will start in 2005.
Parallel to the development of the Strategic Master Plan (SMP), the Nuclear Window of the NDEP finances the implementation of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). The aim of this project is to evaluate the potential environmental impact of the activities defined in the Plan for the decommissioning of nuclear-powered naval vessels and other radiologically dangerous facilities in north-west Russia.
To achieve its goal, the SEA formulates the environmental criteria for the development and implementation of proposed projects. It also investigates their likely consequences on the environment and the local communities, taking into account health and safety concerns and relevant social issues. The study is structured and carried out in compliance with the EBRD Environmental and Public Information Policies and, as such, draws from the findings of extensive information exchange with the residents of the affected areas.
The SEA conclusions facilitate the selection of further Nuclear Window projects and complement the SMP in its role of a unique document that equips the Russian authorities with strategic knowledge about priority areas of decommissioning assistance.
By year-end 2004, the Nuclear Window had received approximately €150 million in donor contributions from Canada, Denmark, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Sweden and United Kingdom.
On completion of the planning stage, the Nuclear Window is foreseen to focus on the implementation of approved projects. Given the problem directly responsible for the environmental degradation of the region, the programme is likely to finance measures for the improvement of the management of accumulated radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel and the conditions for their safe storage in the region.
Last updated 28 April 2010