Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment - FYROM
Chapter 1 - Introduction
During the past ten years, Southeastern Europe has experienced upheaval and instability. Conflicts were fought, and communities divided. Many fled their homes and their countries to escape danger. As attention focused on other issues, the region's rich natural environment, already under pressure from decades of urban and industrial pollution, became increasingly degraded.
Fortunately, the momentum in the Balkans has shifted. Peace, democracy and stability are taking hold. Cooperation is growing within the region and across Europe. Reconstruction efforts are underway, and protection of the environment is an emerging priority.
This assessment examines FYR of Macedonia's environmental needs in the context of these regional developments. As the country undergoes broad transformation of its democratic institutions, environmental protection is evolving alongside economic development. There is now an opportunity for FYR of Macedonia to stop the degradation of its precious environment and, at the same time, create a strong economy and prosperity for its citizens.
This report is not intended to be a comprehensive environmental survey. It is instead a rapid, strategic assessment aimed at identifying the most urgent environmental needs of FYR of Macedonia in order to prioritize rehabilitation funding. Accordingly, the report focuses on the country's severely polluted, 'hot spot' sites requiring immediate attention; the environmental consequences of refugee influxes from the Kosovo conflict; and the actions that can strengthen FYR of Macedonia's environmental institutions and policies.
Ultimately, the responsibility for environmental protection and enhancement rests with the people of FYR of Macedonia. The international community can play a valuable role in helping FYR of Macedonia to implement its environmental agenda. That agenda, however, must be set at the national and local levels.
UNEP hopes that the recommendations contained in this report will catalyze action. In particular, UNEP urges the international community to provide immediate assistance for remedial actions at the environmental 'hot spot' sites identified.
This assessment was developed at the request of FYR
of Macedonia and within the framework of the Stability Pact for Southeastern
Europe. It complements The
Kosovo Conflict: Consequences for the Environment & Human Settlements
(1999) and Post-Conflict
Environmental Assessment-Albania (2000).
The Assessment Method
Traditional responses to emergencies tend to focus on humanitarian action. UNEP's post?conflict environmental assessments answer an urgent global need for rapid, independent assessments of environments affected by conflicts and other emergencies. As a focal point for the world environmental community, UNEP is well positioned to coordinate international partners and bring together the expertise necessary to analyze complex post?emergency dynamics. The goal is to provide focused, strategic analyses that help countries set environmental agendas and reintegrate themselves into the regional and world community. Just as importantly, UNEP seeks to assist donor nations in identifying priority areas for environmental cooperation.
UNEP post-conflict assessments analyze environmental conditions with a view toward emergency prevention and preparedness as much as emergency mitigation and response. This requires addressing the broader context of a country's pre?existing environmental conditions and capacities. Assessments, therefore, entail extensive analyses of relevant environmental issues, meetings with key stakeholders, field missions, the publication of reports, and efforts to catalyze concrete environmental remediation action.
UNEP's environmental assessment of FYR of Macedonia was made with the close cooperation and support of the Ministry of Enviromnental Protection and Physical Planning (MEPP). The assessment process began with a systematic review of the available literature and data concerning FYR of Macedonia's environment. A preliminary UNEP field mission met with environmental leaders from the Government of FYR of Macedonia (the Government), the non-governmental community and academia. Based on this research, UNEP identified three core areas of concern:
During the week of 10?17 September 2000, a UNEP-led mission,, hosted by MEPP, investigated environmental conditions in FYR of Macedonia. The mission team was composed of specialists in chemical and technological processes, solid waste management. biodiversity. drinking water, waste water, air quality, soil, land use planning, law. government,, humanitarian assistance, emergency management. environmental economics, environmental information, and communications. National experts from FYR of Macedonia accompanied the team and provided valuable information.
The team divided into three subgroups that focused on industrial 'hot spots', refugee impacts and institutional capacity, respectively. Throughout the week, the teams held dozens of meetings with key stakeholders from government, non-governmental organizations, donors, international organizations, academia, and the media.
The 'hot spot' team visited ten sites, as detailed in Chapters 3 and 4. The sites were selected in advance of the mission, through in-country consultations with national experts. The aim was to investigate those sites considered most likely to pose immediate risks to the environment and human health, and to include examples of the principal industries found in FYR of Macedonia. At each site (with the exception of Lojane), the UNEP team met with plant officials, conducted visual inspections of the facilities, and, when appropriate, took samples of soil, water or air. Experts from the team also met with Government and municipal officials, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations.
The team specializing in the potential environmental impacts of refugees met with a total of fourteen agencies and organizations that were directly or indirectly involved with the refugee influx. These included the Resident Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Oxfam International; the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC); the International Rescue Committee (IRC); the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE International); the Macedonian Red Cross; the MEPP; the Ministry of Interior; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management; the Public Health Institute; the GEOhydroproject; and the municipalities of Cucer Sandevo and Resen. Based on premission research and the aforementioned interviews, the team inspected the following refugee-affected areas: the refugee camps of Blace, Bojane, Cegrane, Radusa, Stenkovec I, and Stenkovec II; the collective centers of Suto Orizari, Pretor, and Radusa; and the wastewater treatment plants of Struga and Radusa.
The team reviewing institutional capacities met with the Resident Representative of UNDP as well as representatives of the European Commission; the Office of the Prime Minister; the MEPP; the USAID Environmental Fund; the UNDP Veles project; the Municipality of Veles; Veles Water Supply Enterprise; Veles Institute for Public Health; the EU-Phare Institutional Strengthening Project; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management; the Public Enterprise for Physical and Urban Planning; the Municipality of Skopje; the Republic Hydrometeorological Institute; the Ministry of Local S elf? Government; the Environmental Information Center; the Agency for Development and Investments; the Parliamentary Commission on Environment, Youth and Sports; the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts's Research Center for Energy and Informatics; and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as donors and representatives of non?governmental organizations.
At several of the locations and institutions, the available technical information was limited or outdated. The UNEP team followed-up by obtaining and reviewing additional data after the mission and by analyzing the results of samples taken in the field by mission experts.
problems. These problems require investigation, the implementation of remediation measures, and long-term monitoring in order to avoid further risks to human health and the environment.
The UNEP assessment was entirely financed by The Netherlands with the support of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. In addition, essential support in the planning and implementation of the project was provided by the UNDP, UNHCR, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Special recognition must be given to the Resident Representatives and staff of the Skopje offices of UNDP and UNHCR, without whose guidance and logistical support UNEP could not have conducted this assessment.
The Government and citizens of FYR of Macedonia provided invaluable assistance to UNEP. The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning deserves special thanks for its consistent spirit of support and expert advice. UNEP also received essential cooperation from many other ministries, authorities, nongovernmental organizations and the industrial sector in FYR of Macedonia.
To all of its partners throughout the assessment, UNEP
would like to express its deep gratitude.
Copyright 2000-2001 - UNEP Balkans
United Nations Environment Programme - UNEP
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28 March, 2001