Following the escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009, the Governing Council of UNEP, in its Decision 25/12, mandated the organization to initiate a post-conflict environmental assessment to examine the natural and environmental impacts on the Gaza Strip caused by the hostilities. UNEP was also requested to conduct an economic evaluation of the cost of environmental rehabilitation and restoration.
In late January 2009, in the immediate aftermath of the hostilities, UNEP deployed a senior technical expert as part of the UN Early Recovery Needs Assessment mission to Gaza, to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the recent hostilities, including the large quantities of rubble, asbestos and other hazardous waste; hazardous health care waste, and groundwater and soil contamination. The UN Early Recovery mission culminated in a Gaza Early Recovery Rapid Needs Assessment report, as well as a Palestinian National Early Recovery Plan for Gaza, prepared by UN agencies and the Palestinian ministries, with technical support from the UN, World Bank and the European Commission. The latter was launched in Sharm El-Sheikh on 2 March 2009.
UNEP is now undertaking a detailed environmental assessment of the Gaza Strip, based on fieldwork and independent laboratory analysis. A multidisciplinary team of eight international environmental experts will be deployed to Gaza during May 2009, and remain on the ground for ten days, conducting walkover inspections of a wide range of sites and collecting samples for laboratory analysis.
The main areas under investigation through the post-conflict environmental assessment include:
• Water and waste water management;
• Solid and hazardous waste management, including asbestos; and
• The coastal and marine environment.
As requested through Decision 25/12, UNEP experts will also undertake an economic evaluation of the rehabilitation and restoration of the environmental damage in Gaza.
Together with concrete recommendations for rehabilitation, findings will be published in a final UNEP report, to be released during the summer of 2009.
For information on UNEP’s past programmes and related publications in the region please go to UNEP in the Regions.