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About the Project

The UNDP-GEF Dnipro Basin Environment Programme is designed to develop a system of measures and their respective implementation mechanisms in order to sustainably protect the transboundary Dnipro river. The Program is locally implemented by the joint efforts of three riparian countries – Republic of Belarus, Russian Federation and Ukraine. Overall implementation lies with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with involvement of the following agencies: United Nations International Development Organization (UNIDO), International Development Research Centre (IDRC), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


The Dnipro River extends into the territories of three Eastern European countries, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Belarus and Ukraine. It is the third largest European transboundary watercourse after the Danube and the Volga, draining a basin of 511,000 km2. 19.8% of the Dnipro Basin is within the territory of the Russian Federation, 22.9% in the Republic of Belarus, and 57.3% is in Ukraine.

In relation to Eastern Europe as a whole, the Dnipro River Basin has a medium population density. The estimated population of the Basin at the beginning of 2001 was about 32.4 million, broken down by country as follows: 3.6 million within the Russian Federation; 6.3 million within the Republic of Belarus; and 22.2 million people within Ukraine. The level of urbanization is high, with about 69% of the Dnipro Basin population living in urban areas, characterised by intensive industrial activity, excessive exploitation of natural resources, and heavy anthropogenic load on the environment.
Progressive degradation of the Dnipro Basin ecosystem became apparent by the early 1990s, especially in the middle and lower reaches of the Dnipro River. This critical situation is the direct consequence of large-scale industrialization, uneven development of heavy and chemical industries, and unsustainable resource uses and practices that completely disregard environmental values and priorities. The scale of changes that have occurred in the natural ecosystems of the Basin is so great that many of them cannot be reversed. The effect of these changes on the habitats and living conditions of the human population has been no less dramatic.

Most of the consequences of environmental degradation in the Dnipro Basin are transboundary for its riparian countries, and global in the context of their impact on the Black Sea and beyond, thus affecting the ecosystem and climate of the whole European region.

Having become aware of this, the riparian countries of the Dnipro Basin have committed themselves to taking decisive action to protect and restore the Basin ecosystem.


In 1995, the Ministers of Environment from the Republic of Belarus, Russian Federation, and Ukraine signed the Memorandum on Cooperation for the Dnipro Basin Rehabilitation expressing their intention to work together and pool their resources. On the basis of this document, financial support and technical assistance was sought from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for the development of the international programme for environmental rehabilitation of the Dnipro Basin.
This self-standing GEF Program was approved by the GEF Council and launched in December 1999 in order to provide financial support and technical assistance to the Republic of Belarus, Russian Federation, and Ukraine. The main goal of the programme is to develop the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the Dnipro Basin and the mechanisms for its implementation.

Program goals

The overall objective of the SAP implementation is to ensure the Dnipro's environmental rehabilitation and achieve improvements in the state of environment and natural ecosystems, both in the region and beyond (i.e. in the Black Sea Basin). The long-term objectives of the project are to remedy the serious environmental effects of pollution and habitat degradation in the Dnieper River Basin, to ensure sustainable use of its resources, and to protect biodiversity in the basin.

The Program includes seven specific objectives:

  1. Create a transboundary management regime and co-ordinating body;
  2. Assist countries in the formulation, review and endorsement process of a Strategic Action Programme;
  3. Improve financial/legal/operational mechanisms for pollution reduction and sustainable resource use;
  4. Formulation of National Action Plans by Inter-ministerial Committees;
  5. Improve conservation of biodiversity in the Dnipro River Basin;
  6. Enhance communication among stakeholders and encourage public awareness and involvement in addressing the problems of the Dnipro Basin; and
  7. Build capacity for SAP implementation.

This Program is part of the GEF Black Sea Basin Strategic Approach. The Dnipro Project is executed by UNOPS, with full involvement of specialized UN Agencies where appropriate and with the International Development Research Centre (Canada) acting as partners for the execution of specific components. The partnership with IDRC facilitates continuity with on-going projects in the region and greater leverage of donor funds.

End of Program situation

Taking into consideration the above mentioned goals and objectives, the Program was tasked to complete when the following activities:

1.   A number of thematic reports will have been published on issues directly related to transboundary management of the Dnipro. These will include:

- a ‘State of the Dnipro’ report based on existing information, supplemented by new studies conducted within the scope of the Project;

- feasibility studies on the use of economic instruments (for municipal and industrial control of transboundary pollutants);

- evaluations of improved practices for managing agricultural waste from intensive animal husbandry;

- evaluations of the regulatory system for pollutant discharge compliance and polluter responsibility;

- review of Environmental Impact Assessment policies and practices;

- management review of holding ponds for industrial waste;

- review of waste management guidelines and practices for nuclear facilities and disposal sites;

- an assessment of operational capacities and practices regarding the transboundary environmental consequences of water abstraction and water returns from treatment plants;

- an assessment of Dnipro protected areas, priority ecosystems, biodiversity hot spots and the legal, policy and institutional framework for Dnipro basin biodiversity protection;

- assessments of agricultural practices and fisheries and aquaculture in relationship to biodiversity conservation (and the reduction of downstream transboundary impacts);

- a social and economic assessment of the effect of transboundary pollution on the basin’s population.

2.  A revised and updated Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis will have been published incorporating new information on pollution sources, levels and effects, and socio-economic indicators of the root causes of environmental degradation in the region.

    3.  An analysis will have been made of the options for improving the transboundary Dnipro Environment. These will include the identification of gaps in existing institutional capacity; ways of improving stakeholder participation; identification of necessary investments for eliminating transboundary pollution ‘hot spots’; feasibility studies for the use of new economic instruments; options for improving laws, regulations, licensing and enforcement systems; recommended improvements in practices for reducing waste discharges with transboundary consequences; recommended reforms in the application and conduct of environmental impact assessments; options for reforms for biodiversity protection (including agricultural and fisheries reforms).

    4.  A regional strategy for protecting key habitats and species in the Dnipro Basin (including the identification of prioritised investment projects to protect wetlands important for biological diversity and for limiting the discharge of contaminants, including nutrients, to the Black Sea).

    5.  A Strategic Action Programme will have been endorsed at the Government level in all three countries. This should detail a series of legal, policy and institutional reforms, investments and technical measures necessary to protect and restore the transboundary Dnipro environment and to set unambiguous targets for controlling the discharge of nutrients, radionuclides and other pollutants to the neighbouring Black Sea. The Strategic Action Programme will include details of how and by whom it is to be implemented and the implementation monitored.

    6.  National Action Plans (NAPs) will have been developed and approved at Government levels. They will feature inter-ministerial committees and will address SAP transboundary priorities through national actions.

    7.  The three countries should be jointly managing and co-funding a multi-donor Dnipro Basin Environment Programme with a Steering Committee with executive functions, a Joint Management Committee to regularly oversee project management, and a fully functional Programme Management Unit for the day-to-day co-ordination of the project. National administration will include National Project Management Committees and National Project Management Offices.

    8.  The three countries shall have established a number of international Dnipro thematic centres which share roles coordinating training, information exchange and capacity building in support of the SAP process (at least one in each country).

    9.  The three countries will have a functioning International Dnipro Basin Council to include representatives of all Dnipro Oblasts, representatives of relevant ministries, the project implementation unit and various representatives from the civil society including scientific institutions, private sector and NGO representatives. The Council shall have specific functions assigned by the SAP and shall meet at least annually.

    10. Sufficient institutions will have been provided with equipment and training in order to monitor the state of the Dnipro environment and the effectiveness of the implementation of the SAP.

    11. A regional Dnipro River Basin environmental database will have been created with on-line user capacities.

    12. Pilot projects will have been completed in:
    - the use of economic instruments in municipal and industrial pollution control and reduction;
    - management of industrial waste from intensive animal husbandry.

    13. A Priority Investment Portfolio will have been prepared and pre-feasibility studies completed. This, together with the SAP, may lead to the identification of subsequent GEF interventions in the form of investments addressing transboundary priorities.

    14. A Donor Conference will have been held in which donors were identified for the SAP baseline and the Priority Investment Portfolio priority activities.

    15. Countries shall be at an advanced stage of implementation of the co-ordination/co-operation principles stipulated by the UN/ECE Helsinki Convention (1992).

    16. The Project should have made a substantial contribution toward the dissemination of information to all stakeholders, including the general public regarding the state of the Dnipro, the options for improving the situation, the rights and responsibilities of the public for participation in the solutions and the decisions of governments for approving and implementing the SAP and NAPs. The means for achieving this will have been through electronic postings (World-Wide Web) and improved internet access (practical support to selected stakeholders), the publication and wide dissemination of a jargon-free accessible version of the TDA/SAP in local languages, newsletters published by the project and by NGOs and regular stakeholder consultations.

    17. A successful public awareness and environmental education campaign should have been completed which, in a addition to the information mentioned above, should have resulted in participatory regional events reported in the local media and in the development of environmental curricula in schools in the Basin.

    18. The NGOs and other community-based organisations in the region should have developed a deeper involvement in transboundary Dnipro environmental issues, as evidenced by the formation of an active network (meeting twice annually) and the successful completion of specific small-scale project activities related to the rehabilitation and improved transboundary management of Dnipro river basin resources.

    Expected beneficiaries

    The primary target beneficiary of this project is the population of all three Dnipro countries, in particular the population which lives in the Dnipro Basin.  The Basin population should benefit from a more active role in the management of the Dnipro Basin and from the implementation of a co-ordinated programme of improved policies, regulatory tools and investments for improving its management. These in turn, are expected to lead to improved water quality, rehabilitation of the renewable natural resources of the River, protection of its biological diversity and protection of human health. It should provide better opportunities to present and future generations to use the Basin environment in a sustainable manner and to develop a sounder basis for economic development. Populations in the coastal zone of the neighbouring Black Sea should also benefit from major economic, social and ecological benefits of the decrease in eutrophication and chemical pollution of the Sea.

    In the short-term, governments and institutions will benefit from institutional strengthening as a result of networking, training programmes and the provision of key items of equipment and in particular from the development of NAPs.  Proper environmental assessments and pre-investment studies should facilitate the release of vital credits for improving waste management and for stimulating the development of key sectors.

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