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Energy and the environment are essential for sustainable development. The poor are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation and lack of access to clean affordable energy services. These issues are also global ones because climate change, loss of biodiversity and ozone layer depletion cannot be addressed by countries acting alone. UNDP helps nations strengthen their capacity to address these challenges at the national, community, and global levels, by seeking out and sharing the best practices, providing innovative policy advice, and linking partners through pilot projects that help poor people build sustainable livelihoods.

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Belarus is a party to most global environmental conventions. UNDP has helped Belarus to undertake a national capacity assessment to enable the country to meet its obligations under these conventions, in particular those pertaining to biodiversity, climate change, and land degradation. This resulted in a National Capacity Self Assessment Report and Action Plan with recommendations for the implementation of the three conventions in Belarus. The UNDP, with support from the UNECE, also assisted Belarus in assessing the financial and technical cooperation benefits of joining the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The project’s general recommendation was that accession to the Protocol would generate significant financial opportunities for the country to grapple with its social, infrastructural, and environmental problems. In 2005, Belarus formally acceded to the protocol.

Although rich in forest resources, and growing more wood than it utilizes, Belarus obtains only two percent of its energy from wood waste. In many other forest-rich countries, this proportion can be as high as 10%. By increasing the use of wood waste as a source of fuel, Belarus can reduce its dependence on imported energy, which presently fulfills 85% of its energy needs. Relying on renewable energy sources also results in less damage to the environment and lower greenhouse gas emission than with conventional fossil fuels. The UNDP proposes addressing this issue by increasing the Belarusian government’s capacity to support biomass energy projects, and by raising the capacity of customers to finance and implement them.

Up to 6.4 percent of Belarus is covered by peatlands, one of the most valuable and most threatened type of natural habitat worldwide, compared to 3.4 percent for the planet as a whole. Large-scale drainage during the Soviet period decreased the number of natural peatlands in Belarus by more than half. Peatlands, once degraded, contribute to progressive loss of productivity and declining harvests, disruption to the carbon cycle and shrinking habitats for important animal species.

UNDP has successfully developed a project for grant financing from the Global Environment Facility for renaturalization and sustainable management of peatlands in Belarus to mitigate climate change, combat land degradation and ensure conservation of globally valuable biodiversity. In 2006-2010, engineering and construction activities have been completed at 15 project sites with a total restored area of 28 207.7 hectares. Practical implementation of the project facilitate stabilisation and improvement of living environment of a big group of rare animals and plants, which inhabit the sites, diminish the risk of peat fires, reduce carbon dioxide emission to the atmosphere as the result of peat’s mineralisation.

The large-scale drainage of Polesie, a unique area in the south of Belarus comprised of large natural wetlands with outstanding biological and landscape diversity, has lead to a significant drop of the groundwater table, soil erosion and biodiversity decline. Some wetland areas, namely Sporovskoe, Dikoe and Zvanets reserves, remain however virtually intact. UNDP is working to secure conservation and sustainable management of Polesie biodiversity by assisting the government in implementation of integrated management plans for key protected sites. It also assists in putting in place the structures and institutions that would enable broad involvement of the local communities, governments and other interested parties in implementing and monitoring such plans. Specific areas of concern include wetlands and water resources management; ecologically sound flood prevention schemes and sustainable land use, opportunities for ecotourism, and other sustainable alternative livelihoods.

UNDP Office in Belarus initiated a Small Grants Program (SGP) of the Global Enviromental Facility. The SGP provides grants of up to 50,000 US dollars to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) working in the sphere of environment. bal environmental benefits through community-based initiatives and actions and to secure global environmental benefits through environmental protection, poverty reduction and local empowerment.

The Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park is the last remnant of Europe’s primeval forest. The park has been protected since the XIV century. The Pushcha contains a number of unique species of flora and fauna; at its center is a World Heritage Site.

UNDP is working to strengthen environmental management capacity of the Belavezhskaya Pushcha region through increased public awareness and the development of ecotourism. With the support of the Danish government, the UNDP enhanced Belarus/Poland cross border cooperation in order to broaden the exchange of successful experiences between the Polish and Belarusian sides of the Pushcha.

Water resources are one of Belarus’ largest natural assets but are often affected by cross-border pollution. For example, the Dnieper river flows across heavily industrialized and urbanized areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Due to high levels of pollution, 40% of the drinking water taken from the Dnieper in Belarus and Russia does not meet water quality requirements. As a result, many plant and animal species are becoming extinct. UNDP’s regional GEF project has assisted Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine in developing coordinated approaches to manage the environment surrounding the Dnieper River basin. The project has produced a Strategic Action Program, which will serve as a key mechanism for cross-border river basin management with the objective of protecting international waters locally and regionally. The document has already been approved by the governments of Ukraine and Belarus, and an intergovernmental agreement is being drafted to make the SAP official.

On-going Projects:

00076991 Support to the development of a comprehensive framework for international environmental cooperation in the Republic of Belarus

00072384 Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation into Territorial Planning Policies and Practices


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