2. The decision also requested UNEP to undertake field studies, as deemed necessary, with the objective of proposing remedial measures, to follow up on the findings and recommendations of the study and to assist the Palestinian Ministry of Environmental Affairs in its efforts to address urgent environmental needs.
3. High priority was given to the implementation of the decision, and one month later, during the preparatory ministerial segment of the fourteenth session of the Arab League in Beirut in March, 2002, the Executive Director presented the decision in his address to the ministers of finance and economy, and invited all the member States of the Arab League to cooperate with UNEP in working towards achieving a scientifically sound desk study with a forward-looking approach.
4. The geographical scope of the Occupied Palestinian Territories is addressed in several resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. The main focus of the UNEP desk study was the areas where there are acute environmental problems.
5. The desk study iss based on a review of available, relevant studies and interviews with officials, experts, academics, municipal officials and non-governmental organizations. It lists priorities and proposes recommendations for solving environmental problems. The desk study addresses environmental issues identified as the most vital for the environment in the region: water quality and quantity; solid waste; waste water; hazardous waste; biodiversity; land use and land-use change; and environmental administration.
6. The Executive Director of UNEP visited the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel from 13 to 16 July 2002. He met with Mr. Yousef Abu Safieh, Minister of the Palestinian Higher Agency for the Environment and with the Israeli Environment Minister Mr. Tzachi Hanegbi. He also met with the President of the Palestinian Authority and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Mr. Yasser Arafat and with the Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Ariel Sharon. A framework for the desk study was agreed on with both parties.
7. It was agreed that the desk study would list priorities and propose recommendations for solving environmental problems, based on a forward-looking approach.
8. The Executive Director of UNEP invited Mr. Pekka Haavisto, former Minister of Environment and Development Cooperation of Finland, to lead the desk study team of eight highly qualified experts.
9. Following the visit by the Executive Director, a preparatory UNEP expert mission to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories took place from 15 to 22 August 2002.
10. As part of the desk study, UNEP convened a one-day advisory meeting on 23 August 2002, to gather information from a range of sources, in a neutral setting. The objective of the meeting was to provide information to participants on the UNEP desk study, and to obtain information from other organizations, including organizations within the United Nations system, on their past and ongoing relevant activities. Participants included representatives of international organizations, international non-governmental organizations and environmental experts.
11. The UNEP desk study team visited the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel, between 1 and 11 October 2002. The team included in-house experts, as well as experts contracted from UNEP’s collaborating centres and other international environmental institutes. The experts covered the following topics: water quantity, water and soil quality; waste water; solid waste, hazardous waste; environmental administration; land use and biodiversity.
12. During the mission, the desk study team met a broad range of Palestinian officials, non-governmental organizations, academics, as well as municipal officials working on environmental protection at various levels. The team was also received by Mr. Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. In addition, the team met with Israeli officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations. By sometimes splitting up into five different groups, the team was able to visit many sites, ranging from solid waste dumps and waste-water treatment plants, to rangeland rehabilitation projects, and many other sites where there has been damage to environmental infrastructure as a result of the conflict. The team stayed in Jerusalem (Al Quds) and in Gaza, and was also able to visit Bethlehem, the Emek Hefer area, Halhoul, Hebron (Al Khalil) and its environs, Jenin, Ramallah and Tel Aviv.
13. Despite the fact that the desk study focuses on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, UNEP has emphasized that it should engender a positive environmental outcome for the whole region. Therefore, in its chapter 11, the desk study makes clear recommendations on how to improve the environment in such a fashion that it will be beneficial not only to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but to the region as a whole. The full study is presented in document UNEP/GC.22/INF/31 ─ Desk study on the Environment in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Note by the Executive Director.
14. Prior to and during the visits to the region by UNEP officials, consultations were held with the key United Nations agencies in the region including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). In addition, other UNEP specialists contributed to the analysis of satellite images and cartography work in the report.
15. The secretariat hereby submits, in annex, the recommendations of the UNEP desk study team to the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum for its consideration and recommendation on the way forward. The full text of the desk study is contained in document UNEP/GC.22/INF/31.