Tajikistan faces a number of serious environmental problems: close to 55 million tonnes of unsecured uranium waste deposits on its territory; considerable local water and air pollution; and a significant risk of natural disasters, including earthquakes, landslides, mudflows and floods.
The Office assists the country in its efforts to tackle these challenges through a variety of activities. It helps develop national environmental legislation and policies; promotes international environmental conventions; supports a dialogue on environmental issues between the state, civil society and the business community; and works on improving radioactive waste management.
A key element of this strategy is to help reform the country’s legal framework. Since 2005, the Office has provided legal assessments and analyses to Tajikistan’s lawmakers. In 2012, it helped with the drafting of a National Environmental Code, which brings together all existing environmental legislation. It advised the authorities on how to accede to international agreements, such as the Basel Convention, which regulates cross-border transport and disposal of dangerous waste products. And it helps implement the Aarhus Convention, an international agreement providing for civil society participation on environmental matters.
Radioactive waste stored in abandoned and unsecured Soviet-era uranium mines presents a formidable environmental problem for Tajikistan – on such a scale that the country cannot solve it alone. The Office has run several assessments to determine the extent of the threat, and is working with the authorities and other international organizations to help reform national uranium waste management procedures. To make the local population aware of the dangers and ways to protect themselves, it has also run public information campaigns in the affected areas.