Security, conflict and natural disasters are all issues facing the West Asia region. In addition to their tragic human toll, disasters and conflicts can destroy infrastructure, undermine human security and tear apart the fabric of sustainable development. Their impacts are disproportionately borne by the most vulnerable sectors of society, affecting livelihoods and compounding poverty.
As a victim or a driver of crisis, the environment can play a pivotal role in human security and well being. Degraded or poorly managed ecosystems can lead to conflict over dwindling water, food or fuel resources, or to increased exposure and vulnerability to natural hazards, such as sandstorms or flash floods. Conversely, sustainable management of natural resources can help reduce the risk of disasters and conflict, and provide a strong platform for recovery, development and lasting peace.
UNEP has responded to several crisis situations in the region, delivering environmental expertise to national governments and partners in response to various disasters and conflicts. There are currently a number of ongoing and completed programmes:
Desk Study on the Environment in Iraq (2003)
This Desk Study was prepared by UNEP as a contribution to tackling the immediate post-coflict humanitarian situation in Iraq, and the subsequent rebuilding of the country's shattered infrastructure, economy and environment. It is intended for a wide audience and includes information likely to be of value to many of the stakeholders involved in shaping the future of Iraq.
Assessment of Environmental "Hot Spots" in Iraq (2005)
In partnership with the Iraq Ministry of Environment and with funding from the Government of Japan, UNEP implemented an Environmental Site Assessment project to assist Iraq in tackling the problem of contaminated sites resulting from general industrial activities, military activities, post-conflict damage and looting. The project combined practical capacity building for the Iraq partners with detailed assessment work on five priority sites. These included a demolished plating works, a looted pesticides warehouse, a fire damaged chemicals warehouse, a sulphur mining and processing complex, and a military equipment scrap yard.
UNEP in Iraq Post-Conflict Assessment, Clean-up and Reconstruction (2007)
This report is an up-to-date compilation of the various activities undertaken by UNEP in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. It provides a complete description of the activities, makes an obkective assessment of the impacts of UNEP’s intervention and documents the lessons learned by UNEP in implementing such activities.
Lebanon Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment, (2007)
In addition to the significant impact on the civilian population, the July-August 2006 conflict in Lebanon and in Israel caused severe damage to infrastructure in Lebanon and raised concerns about the possible contamination of land, air and water by toxic chemicals released from damaged industrial sites and the types of weapons used. In addition, the bombing of the Jiyeh power plant, south of Beirut, led to the spillage of a considerable amount of heavy fuel oil into the Mediterranean Sea, which polluted approximately 150 kilometres of Lebanese coastline, as well as part of Syria's coast.
In view of these concerns, UNEP sent a team of twelve international environmental experts to conduct fieldwork in Lebanon from 30 September to 21 October 2006. The scientific areas investigated included solid and hazardous waste (including asbestos), land and freshwater contamination, the environmental impacts of weapons used and marine and coastal pollution. UNEP visited more than one hundred sites throughout Lebanon and took close to two hundred water, soil, ash, dust, sediment and marine samples. These samples were sent to three independent laboratories in Europe for analysis. This report presents UNEP's findings of the post-conflict environmental assessment of Lebanon and recommendations for follow-up actions.
Environmental Resources Monitoring in Lebanon (ERML) 2011-2013
In response to the conflict of July-August 2006 and the subsequent oil slick on Lebanese shores, the Government of Greece allocated 1.64 million USD for the implementation of an environmental monitoring project in Lebanon, to be administered by UNEP and UNDP. The objective of the project is to improve the understanding of the environmental quality in Lebanon and its implications for the population through the implementation of environmental monitoring programmes.
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
Environmental Assessment of the Gaza Strip, following the escalation of hostilities in December 2008-January 2009, September 2009
This report presents the initial action undertaken by UNEP immediately following the cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip in January 2009,and summarizes the scientific findings of the complex assessment process carried out by UNEP at the request of its Governing Council during the spring and early summer of 2009.Concrete recommendations are provided for the remediation of environmental damage caused by the recent escalation of hostilities, as well as for longer-term improvement of the environmental situation in the Gaza Strip.
Yemen Rapid Environmental Assessment, 2005
UNEP participated in the assessment team on the impact of the Asian Tsunami on the coastal areas of Yemen, specifically Socotra Island and Al Mahra Governorate, and prepared a report in collaboration with the team that was submitted to UNEP Post Conflict & Disaster Management Branch.