Following the decree of his Honor Chairman Yasser Arafat, President of Palestinian National Authority, The Palestinian Environmental Authority (PEnA) was established on the 10th of December 1996. PEnA is primarily concerned with the development of regulations, strategies, management plans and monitoring programs, the aim of which the sound use and conservation of environment in Palestine. PEnA is also concerned with directing, and executing environmental projects and research activities as well as the promotion of technical assistance needed to ensure the success of sustainability of high quality environment. One other major field PEnA emphasizes on is Public Awareness that can be promoted through educating and training environmentalists and Public. At the end of 1997 a merger was worked out between PEnA and the Environmental Planning Department (EPD), which was part of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. So far, PEnA reached agreements and memoranda of understanding with a nimber of ministries on the transfer of responsibilities over the environmental issues PEnA, including the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Ministry of Health (MoH), and the Ministry of Agriculture. In August 1998, the President of the PNA appointed a state Minister for Environment. Furthermore, the President issued a desree that gave the Minister authorization over PEnA. Few months ago PEnA has been merged in Ministry of Environmental Affairs (MEnA), which has been established in August 1998 by a decree from the President of PNA.

 

The establishment of PEnA and then MEnA stems from the fact that the environmental situation in Palestine has been rapidly deteriorating due to multiple and varying reasons over the last and recent history. The shortage of natural resources, particularly water, degraded vegetation and cropland races coupled with very high population growth, few job opportunities and many years of negligence created environmental hazards and practices with detrimental results. Along the same lines, the lack of environmental awareness and the low standards of education, due to the prolonged Israeli occupation, made a significant part of the Palestinian population being accustomed to living with environmental conditions far below human dignity. The placement of settlements don't help the situation any, they are deliberately put on hilltops discharging their refuse and waste down stream to the Palestinian Wadis and agricultural fields. Besides, the scattering of environmental activities among many players with no proper legislation and with absence of a coordinating institution added significantly to the catastrophe of the environmental situation in the West Bank and Gaza. Moreover, the scarcity of qualified workers, technicians and experts in the different environmental fields coupled with the lack of research facilities available have also contributed to the weak status the Palestinian environment is in. Appearantally, dealing with the environment in an effective and efficient way is becoming an absolute necessity that can not be delayed further. 

 

MEnA is playing an important role as the planning, coordinating and executive body to improve environmental standards and attitude in the Palestinian Territories. Being the central representative authoritative body responsible for all environmental issues in the Palestinian Territories, MEnA has been working very hard to address all environmental constraints, including natural resource depletion and environmental pollution, as an approach towards sustainable development. MEnA aims at developing human resources and capacity building, promoting environmental awareness programs and activities, for the sound use and protection of environmental resources, arid land management, desertification combat, biodiversity conservation, pollution control, and awareness raising.