The Chernobyl Sarcophagus Pledging Conference held on 20 November1997 in New York, heard pledges of some $37 million in new funding for the Chernobyl Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP). The Conference was headed by US Vice President Gore and President Kuchma of Ukraine as honorary co-chairmen, and by US Energy Secretary Frederico Peña and Ukrainian Minister for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety Yuri Kostenko as pro tem chairmen. Thirteen countries announced new pledges, amounting to the $37 million in new funding.

52 delegations, including delegations from the US, Ukraine, G-7 and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), attended the Pledging Conference. Many countries were represented by UN Mission representatives, although a number of countries also sent officials from capitols. Some of these were senior government representatives. Delegations present at the pledging conference included: Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, EU, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Luxembourg, Moldova, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

A total of 20 countries, plus the EU, announced pledges in support of the SIP. Delegates from G-7 countries and the EU presented the breakdown of the $300 million G-7 pledge made at the Denver Summit of the Eight in June 1997. Ukraine pledged $50 million in kind for the project, plus an additional $100 million of in-kind support for infrastructure needed to facilitate implementation of the SIP. With the 13 new donors pledging a total of roughly $37 million for the project, the total funding identified for the Sarcophagus project to date now amounts to roughly $387 million. This figure includes pledges from the following donors: Canada ($20 million), Denmark (2.5 million ECU), Norway ($5 million), Finland (2.5 MECU), France ($40.05 million), UK ($28.22 million), Austria (2.5 MECU), Germany ($52.31 million), Luxembourg ($200 000), Italy ($29.22 million), Greece (2.5 MECU), Japan ($22.5 million), US ($78 million), Switzerland ($4.6 million), Sweden (2.5 MECU), Spain ($3 million), Kuwait ($4 million), Israel ($200 000), Netherlands (2.5 MECU), Ireland ($2.5 MECU), EU (a total of $100 million of which $70.3 million represents the portion paid by the G-7 members of the EU and $29.7 million represents the non-G-7 portion).

In addition to the above, a number of countries made statements of support for the Sarcophagus initiative, although they were not able to make specific pledges at this time. The nine countries which made such statements included Indonesia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Republic of Korea, Estonia, Poland, Brazil, Slovakia and Belarus. Several of these, including Indonesia, Czech Republic, the Republic of Korea, and Poland, promised to make a pledge in the near future.

Donors which provide Contribution Letters to the EBRD, as administrator of the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, are invited to participate in the Assembly of Contributors for the Shelter Fund. The first meeting was held at the EBRD in London on 12 December. The Assembly will approve all future projects under the SIP. In order to obtain a vote in the Assembly, a country must pledge a minimum of 2.5 MECU (approximately $2.75 million) to the Shelter Fund; those countries listed above which have pledged this amount or better can be expected to participate in the Contributors’ Assembly. One of the first items of business for the Contributors’ Assembly was to approve the Framework Agreement between the EBRD and Ukraine which establishes the legal basis needed.

With the new pledges made in New York, we have reached an important milestone, as we have identified over half the funding necessary to complete this approximately $760 million project. The G-7 will continue to solicit futher international support for the project as its completion is an important element of the 1995 G-7/Ukraine Memorandum of Understanding on Closing Chernobyl by 2000.

In 1998, the fundraising effort will be broadened with a major effort to seek support from concerned private sector donors. While the EBRD’s Shelter Fund Rules permit it to accept donations from private entities, a mechanism must first be established which enables private entities to make tax-free donations to the Shelter Fund. This mechanism will solicit and collect private sector contributions, and transfer them to the EBRD’s Shelter Fund. Initial signals from companies indicate significant interest in contributing for humanitarian, environmental and nuclear safety reasons. It is of critical importance to the success of the project to have support from the entire international community, including the private sector.

* With the US Department of State.