The Northern Dimension is an initiative of the European Union. It was developed in 1999 with the intention of strengthening dialogue and co-operation between EU member states, Nordic countries, the Baltic States and Russia to promote security and stability and to help build a safe, clean and accessible environment for the people of the region.

From the outset it was recognised that Iinternational Financial Institutions (IFIs) should play a key role in preparing environmental projects to combat pollution and nuclear safety risks under a new partnership. The concept of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership was endorsed at the EU Summit in Gothenburg in 2001 and a Steering Group was established. At its first meeting the Group agreed on a pipeline of 12 priority environmental projects in north-west Russia and also worked on devising a strategic approach to finance nuclear safety projects. The EBRD, which was charged with administering the Fund, established a set of principles and a programme of potential nuclear projects, building on the extensive experience of the Contact Expert Group of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in co-operation with Russian authorities, including the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom).

In January 2002 the Rules of the NDEP Support Fund were agreed by the EBRD’s Board of Directors and the Fund became operational six months later after a pledging conference to pool initial grant contributions raised EUR 100 million. On 15 November 2002 the Assembly held its first meeting to approve the framework of the Fund and decided on the first allocations for new projects.

The work of NDEP was further endorsed in November 2006 when the European Union, Russia, Iceland and Norway adopted the new Northern Dimension Policy Framework and Political Declaration for a permanent Northern Dimension policy. The documents reference NDEP as an effective model of cooperation for environmental investment. The NDEP Support Fund is set to be operational until November 2017 to allow sufficient time for project implementation in both the environmental and nuclear safety windows.