The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, and the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, Ina Marčiulionytė, today welcomed the decision by Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, to change the course of an oil pipeline being built across Siberia to eliminate potential risk to the World Heritage site of Lake Baikal.
"I wish to congratulate President Putin for his decision," the Director-General declared. "By altering the course of the oil pipeline, the Russian Federation shows its commitment to joining international efforts to protect the common heritage of humanity and to promote sustainable development. UNESCO and its World Heritage Centre appreciate the spirit of cooperation shown by the Russian Federation in seeking to protect its natural environment and fresh water resources."
The Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, Ina Marčiulionytė, also welcomed President Putin's decision: "President Putin's decision regarding the World Heritage site of Baikal is extremely important and very positive. I wish to thank the Russian Federation for its contribution to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention."
President Putin Wednesday announced the decision to move the pipeline that will run from the oil fields of Siberia to the Pacific coast north of Lake Baikal's watershed to avoid the site, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1996.
Home to an outstanding variety of endemic flora and fauna, the 3.15-million-hectar Lake Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world and contains 20% of the world's surface fresh water resources.