Remarks by Ambassador Yelchenko at the 27th International Conference on Health and Environment Global Partners for Global Solutions “Sustainable Energy: Legacy of Chornobyl”

Remarks by Ambassador Yelchenko at the 27th International Conference on Health and Environment Global Partners for Global Solutions “Sustainable Energy: Legacy of Chornobyl”


Dear colleagues,

Distinguished guests,

At the outset, let me thank Doctor Christine Durbak of the World International Transfer, Conference Chair and Founder, for being our supporter and partner for so many fruitful years.

And I would also like to welcome our distinguished speakers of today.

I am pleased that Ukraine has a long lasting tradition of co-hosting this essential open dialogue at the United Nations, that give us an opportunity to discuss a number of the most relevant items of the international, national and regional importance.

As Doctor Durbak already mentioned, this year our focus is in conjunction with the UN 2030 agenda targeting Sustainable Development Goal 7 — Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

The approach of the new United Nation system must ensure comprehensive consideration of security, social and environmental aspects, particularly in priority areas such as ecological safety, comprehensive environmental conservation and risk reduction management. Only such approach will facilitate sustainability and efficiency of the developing world.

This issue is of special importance for my country.

As you all know, yesterday the international community commemorated the 32nd  year of the accident at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear disaster in the history of mankind that has led to the loss of human lives, huge irreversible health, environmental and economic consequences.

It occurred on 26 April 1986 near the city of Prypyat, in Ukraine, which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities of the Soviet Union. Before the disaster the city had a population of about 50 000 people. Now it is a lifeless shadow of the ghostly nuclear catastrophe, one of only two rated at a 7 on the IAEA scale.

It had a serious political and security impact and changed attitudes towards many aspects of the day-to-day life, in particular to the nuclear energy industry and its safeguards. In modern history of Ukraine the scale of the catastrophe can be compared only to the Great Famine of 1933 (Holodomor), Second World War and the ongoing Russian aggression in Crimea and the East of Ukraine.

For 32 years Ukraine has made every effort to improve the well-being of affected communities and revive the economic potential of the affected areas. This catastrophe disrupted the livelihoods of almost 2 million people in more than 2000 locations. Strengthening the resilience of affected communities and restoration of their self-reliance is the foundation for their sustainable development and our absolute priority.

In this regard, we are thankful for productive collaboration with the United Nations. Supported by UN agencies, Ukraine has successfully implemented a number of international projects aimed at sustained recovery and development of the affected areas.

Dear colleagues,

By all means, the shift from restoration of the area to its sustainable socio-economic development can only take place if radiation safety requirements are fully met. Therefore, Ukraine places emphasis on converting the Shelter facility into an environmentally safe system and concluding the construction of the new safe confinement.

In November 2016 the New Safe Confinement was erected. This construction project is unprecedented in the history of engineering. Never before has such a huge structure been constructed at a heavily contaminated site. The next step is the completion of the construction and commissioning of the facility.

Having completed this work, we will create all conditions for the implementation of another ambitious project — the installation of a land-based solar panels in the Chornobyl exclusion zone. A month ago a preliminary feasibility study on the installation of the solar panels was presented. The potential demand for electricity is bigger than originally estimated, and can be up to 1.2 GW (gigawatts) of initial power. The study takes into account the features of the territory, the level of radioactive contamination of the territory, where the planned location of solar energy facilities, the rules of radiation safety during the work.

Dear participants,

Let me mention another important aspect of the topic we discuss now.

As of today the global terrorist threat within the peaceful nuclear development is an emerging international issue. Therefore, Ukraine welcomes the focus of the international community on the physical protection of nuclear material.

In this regard, the Chornobyl international cooperation may also include aspects of the scientific and security infused cooperation under the coordination of the International Atomic Energy Agencyand other UN agencies.

Understanding the long-term nature of the implications of the Chornobyl accident, we find it essential to continue collaboration with the United Nations and other international organizations regarding the study and minimization of health, environmental and socio-economic consequences of the disaster.

One of the primary lessons of Chornobyl was that the world should stay vigilant and united facing such disasters — something that was proved, for instance, by the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

Despite the considerable progress in rehabilitation of the affected areas, much remains to be done. The Chornobyl legacy will linger for a long while.

And we should never forget about this. So I am convinced that we must continue to carry out various events within the UN just like you do right now.

In this light, I would like to inform you that next week the Permanent Mission of Ukraine will be hosting a photo series exhibition featuring Volodymyr Dyagel, a talented young Ukrainian photographer. Some of his works are displayed today on my right and left. The exhibition entitled “Chornobyl. Irreversibility” is dedicated to the 32nd Anniversary of the Nuclear Catastrophe. With this in mind, I am using this opportunity to invite you to the opening ceremony, which will take place on Tuesday, May 1, 1.30 pm, by the South Wall of the Conference Building on the first floor.

I tried to shape the main ideas of the Ukrainian delegation in the United Nations on the issue and now I guess that it is time to listen to the views and approaches of my colleagues.

Thank you.