Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment - FYROM
Chapter 6 - Institutional capacities for environmental management
During the UNEP mission, a subgroup was specifically charged with assessing institutional capacities for environmental management. The subgroup interviewed numerous representatives of key Government ministries and agencies, industries and non-governmental organizations, and reviewed relevant legislation, regulations, reports and other documentation. The following sections summarize some of the main points to emerge, building upon the general environmental context provided in Chapter 2. Corresponding recommendations are to be found in Chapter 7.
The institutional structure for managing the environment has undergone significant changes in recent years. These partly reflect the wider political context, but are also driven by the NEAP, which led to establishment of the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning. Short to medium-term priorities under the NEAP include amending the 1996 Act on Environmental Protection; requiring environmental impact assessments; and creating an independent Environmental Protection Agency. Short to medium-term priorities include developing a new air quality act; amending the water and waste laws; enacting a new nature protection law; strengthening environmental permitting and enforcement processes; and enacting provisions consistent with the Aarhus Convention and the EU directive on access to environmental information.
The MEPP became an independent ministry in 1998, having previously been part of the Ministry of Urban Planning and Construction. The latter was abolished in the summer of 2000. By law, MEPP has broad authority to monitor, protect and improve the environment in the areas of water, soil, air, noise, radiation, and biodiversity. It also has authority to create self-financing mechanisms, develop standards and rules, and conduct inspections. It currently has 81 full-time employees, with a further 15 people working under special contracts. MEPP's budget for 2000 was about 2.56 million Euros (2.17 million USD), a ten-fold increase from 1999.
The Ministry is organized into four divisions: Regulation and Standardization; Sustainable Development; International Cooperation; and the Environmental Information Center. The Ministry is also the parent body for the State Environmental Inspectorate, the Agency for Environmental Protection and Nature Protection and Promotion, and the Fund for Environment and Nature Protection and Promotion. Two additional units implement specific projects: the Ohrid Lake Conservation Project and the Dojran Lake Salvage Project. The Agency for Environmental Protection and Nature Protection and Promotion is expected to become independent during 2001. Under this scenario, a new Environmental Protection Agency would implement programs designed to achieve policy goals set by the MEPP.
Several other Government ministries and state agencies have some degree of environmental authority. These include the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Resource Management; Ministry of Transport and Communications; Ministry of Health; Republic Institute for Health Protection; and the Republic Hydrometeorological Institute. This distribution of environmental responsibilities is a product of frequent institutional restructuring that has delayed policy implementation and often added little discernible benefit.
Water policy is a case in point. Responsibility for water is held by four ministries, each of which implement laws relevant to water policy. A clear division of responsibility is needed in order to address the significant challenges of establishing proper wastewater treatment and maintaining adequate water infrastructure. Similar inefficiencies exist in monitoring. The integration of related policy areas and functions would streamline decision-making, enhance effectiveness, and maximize the value of scarce resources.
International Cooperation and Strategic Vision
In the last several years, FYR of Macedonia has entered a number of significant international, regional and bi-lateral conventions and agreements. On the international level, the country has become a party to the Basel Convention, the Aarhus Convention, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution and others (see Appendix III).
FYR of Macedonia has also played a strong role in regional environmental cooperation initiatives. The country's bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation with Greece and Albania is improving joint environmental protection efforts. In addition, the MEPP is preparing a strategy for sustainable development (Agenda 21) in cooperation with Slovenia. As a member of the Regional Environmental Reconstruction Program for South Eastern Europe (RERep), the country has joined in cooperation with other Balkan countries seeking to strengthen environmental policy development and institutions in the Balkans. Created in March 2000, RERep is seeking to target funding to priority environmental projects in member states. The program, however, has not yet achieved the level of international assistance needed to support its agenda.
FYR of Macedonia is seeking close adaptation of its environmental provisions to those of the European Union's Member States. The European Commission is supporting the adaptation process technically and financially. An Agreement for Association and Cooperation with the EU is expected to be ready for signature by the end of 2000.
These international, regional and national developments together create a significant legal framework for environmental protection. Several challenges remain, however, for FYR of Macedonia. Most importantly, a clear strategic vision is needed to provide strong direction and coordination to the country's international partners. Among other things, this process will require the harmonization and rationalization of Government strategies and legislation.
Local and regional administration
Under current law, municipalities manage drinking water supply, green areas, hygiene, and solid waste disposal. They also have responsibilities in the fields of construction, land-use planning and zoning. Legislation is pending for the implementation of a program of further decentralization.
Local Environmental Action Plans (or 'LEAPs') have been developed in approximately one-tenth of the country's 123 municipalities. These plans are funded locally. As mentioned in Chapter 3, above, a project to build consensus in support of the LEAP in Veles has brought together a range of local stakeholders.
A new national spatial plan will designate the types of land uses allowed in different areas and will be complemented by local plans. This will ultimately provide a coherent overall basis for authorizing new activities.
A general regional level of public administration does not exist in FYR of Macedonia, although various individual ministries and public services operate functional units responsible for several communes or municipalities.
Environmental management instruments
Weak economic conditions during the period of transition following independence have rendered the national and local tax bases inadequate to support muchneeded environmental programs. The MEPP's Fund for Environmental Protection and Nature Promotion ('Eco-Fund') is funded by a vehicle registration tax, but currently receives only about 700,000 USD per year. Under draft legislation the Eco-Fund would be more independent of the MEPP and would derive revenues from petrol and tobacco excise taxes. These revenues are expected to total approximately 3 million USD annually, a level still not adequate to meet the country's extensive environmental needs.
Monitoring of air and water quality falls under the jurisdiction of multiple administrations and is poorly coordinated. While monitoring equipment and techniques are inadequate and resources for improvements are lacking at the Republic Hydrometeorological Institute, modem equipment at the MEPP is unused because of untrained personnel. The monitoring that is conducted often does not include important parameters (e.g., heavy metals) and appears to be inadequately linked to public health monitoring.
The enforcement of environmental regulations is conducted principally by the State Environmental Inspectorate. The Inspectorate, which currently has seven inspectors among a total staff of eleven, performed approximately 800 inspections during 2000. Although all polluting enterprises are subject to inspection, the Inspectorate focuses principally on the country's approximately 100 heavily polluting industries. A comprehensive inventory of pollution sources, currently under development, will enable the systematic selection of enterprises appropriate for inspection.
Inspections routinely cover six areas: air, water, soil, noise, protected nature, and radiation. Building and operation permits do not contain pollution limits. Inspections, therefore, refer to laws and regulations. The relevant regulations containing maximum allowable concentrations of emissions or concentrations, however, are outdated and inadequate. When levels are exceeded, inspectors can impose fines, lower production levels, or order the installation of remediation equipment. In extreme cases, a facility can be closed. According to regional inspectors and others interviewed for this assessment, enforcement efforts suffer from a judiciary that is not adequately informed about environmental laws and policies.
Various other inspectorates at the national and municipal levels have jurisdiction over aspects of environmental policy. Communication among the inspectorates, however, appears to be unsystematic at best.
Under the Act on Environment, citizens have the right to be informed, publicly or on request, regarding the state of the environment and environmental or human health threats. In 1998, the MEPP created the Environmental Information Center. The Center's role is to establish a comprehensive base of relevant, accurate, and publicly accessible information concerning the quality and trends of FYR of Macedonia's environment.
FYR of Macedonia was the first country to ratify the Aarhus Convention. The MEPP is currently developing a strategy for implementation of the Convention, but guidance on how to complete this task is needed.
In 1998, FYR of Macedonia joined the GLOBE Programme
and introduced environmental education activities into four primary
and five secondary schools. No other public environmental education
programs exist at the primary or secondary school levels. University
level courses in environmental studies have been offered since the mid-1990's.
Copyright 2000-2001 - UNEP Balkans
United Nations Environment Programme - UNEP
tél: +4122 917 86 16 fax: +4122 917 80 64
Last update: 19 March, 2001