UNEP recognized that Macedonia and Albania's broad transformation of their democratic institutions presented opportunities for environmental protection to evolve alongside economic development. Following on its work relating to the Kosovo conflict, UNEP from September 2000 to December 2001 assessed the environmental impact of refugee flows to Macedonia and Albania during the conflict. The reports concluded that refugee flows did not cause severe and widespread damage in either Macedonia or Albania. However, a few minor site-specific impacts, the result of mismanagement of solid and liquid waste and the construction of campsites, were identified.
UNEP's work consisted of the following activities:
Post-conflict environmental assessment
Apart from studying refugee flows, the study also assessed the condition of industrial sites and pollution hotspots. This resulted in the publication of two reports titled, respectively, Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment - Macedonia and Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment - FYR of Albania. The reports came to the conclusion that environmental “hotspots” at industrial sites posed significant risks to human health and required immediate management and risk reduction measures.
Following on the recommendations of the environmental assessment reports, UNEP engaged in feasibility studies in Macedonia and Albania to design clean-up measures at the four worst contaminated sites. This led to clean-up measures being taken by the World Bank and the governments of Sweden and Italy.
Environmental institutions and coordination
As part of its post-conflict environmental assessment, UNEP reviewed the institutional capacities for environmental management in Macedonia and Albania.