Decades of conflict and violence coupled with drought and earthquakes have had devastating impacts not only the people of Afghanistan, but also on its natural environment, once pristine and rich in biological diversity, but now suffering from years of overexploitation of natural resources and habitat loss. It was clear from the outset that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as part of the overall response by the United Nations, would give its support to the people and authorities of Afghanistan by offering its expertise in post-conflict environmental assessment and analysis. This report presents facts on the state of the environment, specific findings concerning the urban environment and the natural resources of Afghanistan and recommendations on how to improve environmental conditions and policies.
UNEP was able to meet this challenging task thanks to the close cooperation with the Ministry of Water Resources, Irrigation and environment, and I extend my thanks to the Minister, Dr Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, for his collaboration and strong commitment, and for the hard work by his staff. Moreover, the activities were planned in close coordination with the Afghan Assistance Coordination Agency (AACA) and the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA).
A new chapter in the history of Liberia started when the peace agreement in Accra, Ghana, was signed in August 2003. The National Transitional Government of Liberia has been established, and the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is helping to reestablish the security in the country. The fighting in Liberia has not only had a devastating impact on its people but also on the country’s rich natural resources and biodiversity. In Liberia, as is the case in many other African countries, resource abundance or scarcity is all too often the catalyst for war and suffering. The Liberian people have been forced to pay a high price for living in a country rich in prized timber and mineral resources. In modern Africa, environment security and effective and fair resource governance are at the very heart of peacemaking and peacekeeping. The misuse of natural resources has not only been a source of conflict in Liberia and the wider region, but has also sustained it. Effective and strong management to promote the sustainable use of natural resources is central to preventing additional conflict in Liberia. For the long-suffering people of Liberia, many of whom have been displaced and separated from their families, this new era provides them with a chance for a better future.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the United Nations agency for the environment. I have been asked many times if in the post-conflict situation – like in Liberia today – it is too early to speak about environment and sustainable development. My experience
is that sustainable development cannot be achieved if one of the three key components of it – economic, social or environmental – is forgotten. In Liberia, the country’s growth is dependent on the management and use of its natural resources: timber, minerals, agriculture
and wildlife. Unfortunately, during the last 14 years of misery we have witnessed the woeful and unsustainable use of Liberia’s natural wealth to buy arms and support conflict. UNEP, as a part of the United Nations Development Group and its Needs Assessment process for Liberia, has managed the cross-cutting sector of environment. Working with United Nations colleagues, the government of Liberia and its agencies and with non-governmental organisations, UNEP has collated environmental background data, which is now published in this desk study. My sincere wish is that as soon as the security situation allows, the comprehensive environmental legislation already prepared by Liberia as well as recommendations of this study can be fully implemented.
This report continues the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) investigation of the impacts of the Kosovo conflict. It extends the body of knowledge about the environmental impacts of the conflict, and about the urgent environmental challenges facing FYR of Macedonia. The report should provide a useful tool for international community members seeking to assess FYR of Macedonia’s needs and assist the country. It also underscores the importance of environmental management during humanitarian assistance efforts. To conduct the assessment, UNEP drew on the skills of international experts from various scientific and environmental policy disciplines. During a field mission to FYR of Macedonia, the team visited refugee camps and environmental ‘hot spots’, including neglected industrial sites. The team also took samples and analyzed various environmental and human settlement data. I would like to thank this dedicated and highly skilled team for their hard work.
UNEP commenced its post conflict work in Liberia in November 2003 by assuming the lead for the cross-cutting theme of “environment” in the UN/WB Needs Assessment. This responsibility involved integrating environmental issues and priorities in the needs assessment report, reviewing information from other sectors, holding consultations with stakeholders and fielding missions in 2003/ 2004. As supplementary information to the Needs Assessment, UNEP produced the “Desk Study on the Environment in Liberia”, which was presented at the International Reconstruction Donors Conference in New York on 5-6 February 2004. The report aimed at providing a rapid and strategic overview of the environmental problems faced by the country, and identified the immediate needs to be addressed during the reconstruction and development process. Overall, the study found that the misuse of natural resources has not only been a source of conflict in Liberia and the wider region, but has also sustained it. Furthermore, the massive movement of refugees and internally displaced people have had very serious impacts on the environment. Based on these findings and in consultation with the national authorities, it was agreed that an important contribution towards increasing national and regional stability would be to provide the Liberian Government with the capacity and proficiency to manage its natural resources and economic development in an environmentally sustainable and equitable manner. To this end, UNEP’s efforts over the past two and half years have focused on strengthening the enabling policy and legislative frameworks and the technical capacity of the country’s nascent environmental administration. In April 2005 UNEP established a Project Office in Monrovia, led by an international UNEP staff member.
A wide range of activities were carried out by UNEP in Iraq between 2003 and 2006, primarily through the Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch (PCDMB) based in Geneva, Switzerland, and the International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) based in Osaka and Shiga, Japan. Many activities continued into 2007 and beyond. This report is an up-to-date compilation of the various activities undertaken by UNEP in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. Its objectives are the following:
1. To provide a complete description of the various activities undertaken by UNEP in Iraq between 2003 and 2006;
2. To make an objective assessment of the impacts of UNEP’s intervention; and
3. To document the lessons learned by UNEP in implementing activities in a complex situation such as Iraq.
In April 2003, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a Desk Study on the Environment in Iraq, which outlined the environmental vulnerabilities resulting from years of conflict in the country, the low priority given to environment by the previous regime, and the
unintended environmental effects of international economic sanctions in the 1990s. One of the issues identified in the study was the impact of the use of depleted uranium (DU) during the conflict. The report accordingly recommended that a comprehensive field assessment be conducted in Iraq to investigate the use of DU and its residual impacts. UNEP’s original plan called for the deployment of international experts to Iraq to conduct the investigation. However in June 2005, due to the continuously deteriorating security situation, UNEP decided instead to train and equip national experts from the Radiation Protection Centre (RPC) of the Iraqi Ministry of Environment (MoEn) to undertake the expert DU assessment locally. This report focuses on the various capacity-building activities carried out by UNEP to ensure good quality procedures during the local expert DU assessment and subsequent fieldwork. A second report presenting the findings and conclusions of
the fieldwork will be published in 2007.
The peace deal signed in Nairobi by the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement on 9 January 2005 put an end to more than two decades of civil war in the country. The United Nations family in Nairobi is proud to have played a lead role in the conclusion of the peace process by hosting an exceptional meeting of the United Nations Security Council in November 2004, which facilitated negotiations that led to a Comprehensive Peace Agreement being reached in early 2005. For most of Sudan, it is now time to focus on recovery, reconstruction and development. In this context, the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan requested UNEP to conduct an environmental assessment of the country in order to evaluate the state of Sudan’s environment and identify the key environmental challenges ahead.This report presents the findings of the fieldwork, analysis and extensive consultations that were carried out between December 2005 and March 2007, and contains:
• an overview of the environment of Sudan and the assessment process;
• analysis and recommendations for the major crosscutting issues of climate change, desertification, conflict, and population displacement; and
• analysis and recommendations for key environmental issues in nine different sectors (urban/health, industry, agriculture, forestry, water, wildlife, marine environment, law and foreign aid).
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia stands on the threshold of a new and decisive phase in its history as it looks to emerge from the turmoil of armed conflicts and to begin reconstruction and development. It is at this moment that the opportunity must be seized to base plans for economic growth on the principles of sustainable development. This means integrating environmental considerations into all policy areas at all levels to ensure that everyone living in the FYR of Macedonia can breathe clean air and drink clean water. It means provision of universal and affordable access to sanitation, and solid waste disposal, and it means the conservation of the country’s outstanding natural heritage. Above all, it means creating and maintaining the environmental conditions in which investment, employment, health and peace can flourish.
While this vision can only be achieved by the people and Government of FYR of Macedonia, the international community has a vital role to play. Not only in the provision of funding, capacity building and technical support, but also in pressing for environmental issues to be at the top of the development agenda. The United Nations occupies a special role within the donor community. While having access to a broad range of environmental knowledge and resources, the UN, at the same time, has the flexibility to adapt and pursue a policy agenda that closely reflects the immediate needs of the FYR of Macedonia. As a contribution towards the realisation of sustainable development in the FYR of Macedonia this report has been prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country office in the FYR of Macedonia. It presents the results of a Strategic Environmental Policy Assessment (SEPA) carried out in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia during September 2001. The SEPA was conducted by UNEP, in response to UNDP’s formal request for a comprehensive review of environmental policy in the country.
The UNEP Capacity Building and Institutional Development Programme for Environmental Management in Afghanistan was officially launched by UNEP and the European Commission in Kabul on the 28th of October 2003. The programme was requested by the Government of Afghanistan as a key follow-up activity to the UNEP report “Afghanistan Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment” published in January 2003. The purpose of the programme is to provide an integrated package of capacity building activities that will contribute to the development of a stand-alone and self-sufficient National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) with the required technical and legal capacity to implement the environmental mandate of the Government. The programme covers five main pillars:
Pillar 1: Environmental institutions and coordination
Pillar 2: Environmental law and policy
Pillar 3: Environmental impact assessment
Pillar 4: Environmental information and education
Pillar 5: Community-based natural resource management
The original programme was to be implemented during the period October 2003 to December 2006. Based on a combination of early successes and expanding needs, an extension has been requested by NEPA for UNEP to continue until 2008. Support and funding for the programme has been provided by the European Commission, the Government of Finland and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This report outlines the progress that was made during the 2003-2005 period and provides an overview of the focus areas for 2006.
This report continues the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) investigation of the impacts of the Kosovo conflict. It extends the body of knowledge about the environmental impacts of the conflict, and about the urgent environmental challenges facing Albania. The report should provide a useful tool for international community members seeking to assess Albania’s needs and assist the country. It also underscores the importance of environmental management during humanitarian assistance efforts. To conduct the assessment, UNEP drew on the skills of international experts from various scientific and environmental policy disciplines. During a field mission to Albania, the team visited refugee camps and environmental ‘hot spots’, including neglected industrial sites. The team also took samples and analyzed various environmental and human settlement data. I would like to thank this dedicated and highly skilled team for their hard work.
The recent conflict in Lebanon and in Israel, which began in July 2006 and lasted for more than a month led to nearly one million Lebanese – over to a quarter of the total population – fleeing their homes. This massive human displacement and destruction or severe damage of approximately 30, 000 housing units clearly had a very deep impact on the civilian population. Within hours of the ceasefire on 14 August, large numbers began returning home—a measure of the resilience of the Lebanese people but also representing a huge challenge for the aid workers trying to deal with the flood of returnees. Removal of the huge amount of rubble generated by the conflict represented a further challenge but one that got underway surprisingly quickly and, aspart of the reconstruction work, is on-going. One of the most high profile issues of the conflict was the bombing of the Jiyeh power plant which resulted in the spillage of thousands of tones of oil into the Mediterranean Sea. On 5 August, the Minister of Environment of the Lebanon formally requested UNEP to conduct a post-conflict environmental assessment of his country.Thescope of UNEP’s assessment work was geographically limited to Lebanon.
The findings are presented in this report. Coastal communities have been severely affected by the oil pollution washed onto their shores. During and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict, the international community (including governments and regional organizations) and the Lebanese government worked tirelessly alongside local civil society organizations in a massive effort to contain the oil spill and implement clean-up measures along the Lebanese coast.
The Iraqi Ministry of Environment (MoEn), which stemmed from and incorporated the Ministry of Health’s former Environmental Protection and Improvement Directorate, was established in September 2003. Since its inception, the Ministry has operated under four different governments, with three different ministers. In spite of this political flux, security constraints and resource limitations, the Ministry has succeeded in establishing its presence, training its staff, improving infrastructure and carrying out a number of projects. UNEP initiated this institutional assessment of the Ministry of Environment as part of its project for Strengthening Environmental Governance in Iraq, which is funded by the Government of Japan through the Iraq Trust Fund. Ministry officials undertook the fieldwork, and UNEP provided technical assistance. The assessment found the Iraqi Ministry of Environment to be fully operational, with competent staff and functioning legislation. While its work covers all areas of environmental management, including law-making and law enforcement, the Ministry’s core strength is in environmental monitoring, due to its historical background as the monitoring arm of the Ministry of Health. These three roles should in future be segregated, and the law-making and inspection capabilities reinforced. The Ministry is currently working on both these issues. In addition, a new framework law on the environment is being developed, which should be followed by a new set of standards and regulations. The Ministry is also being reorganized to better carry out its current mandate. Once these activities are completed, the law-making and enforcement components can be strengthened.
As the smoke and dust settled and peace was re-established in what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the summer of 1999, it was evident that not only had people been through untold pain and suffering but that the environment had suffered as well. However, the extent and nature of the conflict-related damage to the environment and the threats these might pose were unknown.
In response to widely voiced concerns, the United Nations Environment Programme established a task force (the Balkans Task Force) with a mandate to assess objectively and scientifically immediate threats to human health and the environment arising from the conflict.
This was the first time that environmental issues had been recognized and integrated as a central part of the immediate United Nations post-conflict humanitarian effort. In October 1999 UNEP presented its findings in the report entitled The Kosovo Conflict – Consequences for the Environment and Human Settlements. This drew a number of important conclusions on the post-conflict situation in the region and – in particular – singled out four heavily polluted environmental ‘hot spots’ (Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad and Bor), for immediate humanitarian assistance. This report documents in detail how, during a period of four-and-a-half years (mid-1999 to December 2003) UNEP went about assessing the environmental consequences of the war and implementing a pioneering clean-up project to address serious conflict-related environmental damage.
The urgency of humanitarian concerns during refugee and IDP movements means environmental considerations are not always taken into account. This places extra responsibility on organizations and authorities to incorporate such considerations into the planning process. Failure to do so will likely have a negative effect on the very people they seek to help. In a worst case scenario, new cycles of displacement could be sparked over conflict relating to the use of natural resources. A number of potential environmental impacts associated with refugees and IDPs were highlighted – perhaps for the first time – as a result of UNEP’s work in 2003 and 2004, as part of the United Nations and World Bank Joint Needs Assessment for Liberia. A large body of environmental management knowledge was known to exist from previous refugee operations – including UNHCR’s Environmental Guidelines (UNHCR, 1996 and 2005), a range of UNHCR environment-related handbooks, and the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Camp Management Toolkit (2004) – but virtually no such information was specific to Liberia. Moreover, there was little knowledge in Liberia that these resources actually existed and could help with planning and decision-making. UNEP sought to address this gap as part of a broader project entitled ‘Strengthening Capacities for the Integration of the Environmental Dimension in Refugee and IDP Settlements and Flows in Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone’. Financial assistance from the governments of Norway and Sweden enabled an appropriate response to be implemented in Liberia. Starting with basic needs assessments and a review of existing literature, two capacity building workshops were designed and organized in Monrovia for Liberian practitioners and decision-makers.
UNEP’s intention in conducting the assessment was not to assign blame, but to present an accurate picture of the state of environmental affairs. UNEP will further actively share the findings and recommendations of this report with donors who have an interest in future environmental projects in the region.There was no real precedent for an assessment of this nature. UNEP developed its own methods, focusing on four objectives: First, to gather a baseline data set of the environment in the disengaged settlements. Second, to identify areas posing immediate risk to people. Third, to create an information base, including satellite images and maps, for future planning. Fourth, to provide training on environmental assessments to Palestinian experts. Using satellite imagery, reports and comments from Israeli, Palestinian and international sources, UNEP scientists – prior to commencement of the field work – identified approximately 100 areas of interest, including industrial buildings, waste disposal sites, agricultural plants and storage tanks. The field work was carried out in Gaza from 9-18 December 2005 by a UNEP team of 8 experts with expertise in the fields of hazardous waste, including asbestos, marine and coastal issues, soil contamination and water quality. The UNEP team was consequently able to cover all 21 disengaged settlements, as well as the Erez industrial site. Following the field work, samples were produced in triplicate, handed to the Palestinian and Israeli laboratories and sent to an independent, UNEP contracted laboratory in the UK.
This report presents the findings of the survey. Other than some localized pollution, the former Israeli settlements did not cause contamination of water, land or buildings posing a significant risk to the environment or to public health. Pollution at the former Erez Industrial Estate was also localized and could be mitigated by targeted clean-up action. The study thus finds that overall the environmental impact of the former Israeli settlements in the Gaza strip was limited – welcome news for everyone concerned with the region’s environment, long-term stability and economic progress. We hope that the findings presented in this report would bolster Palestinian resettlement plans and foster hopes for economic investment and peace in the region.
As major military operations in Iraq were drawing towards an end in late April 2003, UNEP published its Desk Study on the Environment in Iraq, aimed at providing a timely overview of key environmental issues in the context of the recent conflict. Background materials used in the report’s preparation relied on UNEP’s earlier work in the region, including three studies it had carried out about the environmental impacts of the 1991 Gulf War, and the 2001 report on the demise of the Mesopotamian Marshlands. Due to the conflict situation, it was not possible to conduct field assessments and the study was rapidly compiled from published and online information sources as well as satellite data. Despite these limitations, the report sets out the general environmental context and provides guidance on the next steps for addressing key environmental challenges. UNEP’s Desk Study was prepared as part of the overall ‘UN Humanitarian Flash Appeal for Iraq’, launched in March 2003.
This Progress Report should not be considered as a substitute for the Iraq Desk Study, but is intended to provide updated information about the evolving environmental situation in Iraq, with a view to highlighting priority areas for action. In addition to other sources, it draws its information from two fact-finding missions that UNEP was able to field to Iraq in July and August 2003. Unfortunately, however, the security front remains unstable, seriously curtailing the United Nations margin of manoeuvre in Iraq. The Progress Report also makes use of background material collected for the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) / World Bank Joint Iraq Needs Assessment, which will be presented at the International Donors’ Conference in Madrid on 24 October 2003. Within the UNDG process, UNEP has been mandated to identify and evaluate environmental concerns; one of the four cross-cutting sectors of the Iraq Needs Assessment. This has provided an opportunity for UNEP to actively link environmental activities with other relevant sectors such as agriculture, water and sanitation, energy, housing and institutions.
Every conflict generates risks to human health and to the environment. The post-conflict situation in Iraq compounds a range of chronic environmental issues, and presents immediate challenges in the fields of humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and administration.
Now that major military combat operations have ended, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is addressing post-conflict risks to the environment and to human health, and promoting long-term environmental management. Timeliness is paramount. Lessons learned from earlier conflicts show that the immediate environmental consequences must be addressed as soon as possible to avoid a further deterioration of humanitarian and environmental conditions. For this reason, UNEP, as a part of the wider UN family, integrated its post-conflict activities into the UN Humanitarian Flash Appeal launch on 28 March 2003.
Earlier UNEP post-conflict studies also demonstrate that the environment can have major implications for human livelihoods and for sustainable economic development. As such, environmental issues must be integrated across all sectors in post-conflict situations. Following
this most recent conflict, Iraqi citizens may have fears about environmental threats from military activities, such as air pollution, drinking water contamination, and the presence of hazardous substances, including heavy metals and depleted uranium. Objective and reliable information will help set aside such fears where the risk is minimal, and will help to target measurement and clean up activities in areas where the risk is higher. For these reasons, and based on this study and the information currently emerging from Iraq, UNEP is recommending that field research and analysis be carried out in Iraq at the earliest possible time. The approach of this Desk Study is environmental and technical. The intent is not to attach blame for various environmental problems. Rather, it is to provide an overview of chronic and war-related environmental issues, and to identify the steps needed to safeguard the environment. Top priorities include environmental issues that have a direct link with easing the humanitarian situation, especially the restoration of water, power, sanitation networks and ensuring food security.
I am delighted to present this report on the assessment of contaminated sites in Iraq. This pioneering work has been conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Environment and its professional experts under the guidance and supervision of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The project is part of a series of capacity building activities being undertaken by UNEP, with support from the Government of Japan through the UN Iraq Trust Fund. While UNEP has been undertaking post-conflict environmental assessments since 1999, the situation in Iraq posed some unique challenges. Initial field visits by the UNEP team indicated the need to urgently assess the level of contamination at a number of industrial sites. However, the security situation did not permit UN staff to work inside the country.
UNEP therefore developed a specific approach to assess the contaminated sites using a team of Iraqi experts from various Ministries that were selected and trained by UNEP experts to undertake the work. The data gathered inside Iraq was supplemented with satellite imagery,
and samples were analysed in international laboratories. All of the field work was documented in great detail using global positioning systems and digital cameras. The outcomes of the work highlight a number of important findings and lessons. First and foremost, the report demonstrates that while there are contaminated sites in Iraq, the environmental risks are still very localised and the opportunity exists to initiate immediate clean-up before public health is threatened. Urgent action should be taken as soon as possible to contain the large quantities of toxic chemicals lying unattended and unguarded. In this regard, I am extremely pleased that the findings of this project have resulted in UNEP being awarded additional financial resources by the UN Iraq Trust Fund to initiate clean-up activities. Throughout this work, UNEP has also learned that an approach based on remote supervision, modern communications equipment and remote sensing can produce very useful results even in conditions where the United Nations cannot be present on the ground. This vastly expands the operating envelope for future UNEP interventions in other parts of the world.
In the wake of devastating drought and nearly a quarter of a century of conflict, the Afghan people are working with determination to break a pattern of poverty and to rebuild their war-torn land. Decades of civil strife shattered 60% of the country’s infrastructure, created widespread food insecurity and degraded the natural resource base on which most Afghans are dependent to satisfy their basic subsistence needs.
As Afghanistan moves forward, the Government has placed security, good governance, and self-sustainability at the top of its reconstruction agenda. To achieve these goals, investment in rebuilding human capital and institutions, particularly those necessary for effective natural resource management and recovery, is an essential part of Afghanistan’s vision towards securing its future.
This Executive Summary provides readers with a short overview of the key environmental issues, factors and drivers of environmental
change in Afghanistan, and highlights the latest achievements and prospects ahead. It is intended as an overview of the more multifaceted First State of Environment (SOE) Report for Afghanistan, which is being produced by the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) in accordance with section 9(12) of the Environment Law, 2007, and will be published in mid-2008, with the assistance of the United Nations Environment Programme. It is designed for both a national audience (Government officials, community leaders, and natural resource policy-makers at a central and local level) and the broader international community: donors and international organizations, policy-makers in neighbouring countries, people and institutes interested in Afghanistan. It provides in a consolidated format the best available information and also identifies gaps in data on the state of the environment.
In January 2007, the final version of the Environment Law came into force. The Law, which has been approved by the National Assembly, is based on international standards which recognize the current state of Afghanistan’s environment while laying a framework for the progressive improvement of governance, leading ultimately to effective environmental management. It is now binding on both the government and the people of Afghanistan.
The purpose of this brochure is to give the Afghan people, and other interested persons, a basic overview as to why and how the Law was developed, and the implications of the Law for the ordinary person and the government. This brochure should therefore be read in conjunction with the Law itself (see Official Gazette No. 912, dated 25 January 2007).