28 April 2006 The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to change the course of a Siberian oil pipeline to eliminate risk to the UN World Heritage site of Lake Baikal, the world's oldest and deepest lake containing 20 per cent of Earth's surface fresh water.
“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 Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said.
The Chairperson of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee joined in praising the decision to move the pipeline, which will run from the oil fields of Siberia to the Pacific coast, to a site to the north of Lake Baikal's watershed to avoid the site that was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1996.
“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,” said Ina Marčiulionytė.
The 31,500-square-kilometre Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 metres) lake in the world.