During the 1999 Balkans war, the intensity of the air strikes, the targeting of industrial military facilities and dramatic television pictures combined to fuel claims that an environmental disaster had resulted from massive pollution of air, land and water. To address these claims, UNEP and the UN Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS/Habitat) initiated the Balkans Task Force (BTF), later evolving to the UNEP Post-Conflict Branch, to provide a neutral and independent assessment of the environmental situation.

To address these concerns, UNEP conducted the following work:

Post-conflict environmental assessment

UNEP consequently conducted an assessment of the environmental impacts of the Kosovo conflict, resulting in 1999 in a report titledThe Kosovo Conflict: Consequences for the Environment & Human Settlements.

The assessment studied chemical contamination at bombed industrial sites, damage to parks and biodiversity, impacts on human settlements and overall risks to human health.

Clean-up activities

UNEP identified four contaminated industrial sites as requiring urgent action to prevent harm to inhabitants and further degradation of the environment. This clean-up work was commenced in 2000 as part of a separate project.

Environmental institutions and coordination

UNEP assessed the institutional capacity for environmental management in Kosovo to determine the ability of the government to address environmental problems.