Since 2002, UNEP has taken an active role in laying the environmental foundations for sustainable development in Afghanistan.
Decades of conflict and violence, coupled with drought and earthquakes, have had devastating impacts not only on the people of Afghanistan, but also on its natural environment, once pristine and rich in biological diversity.
UNEP’s engagement began with a major post-conflict environmental assessment, conducted in conjunction with the Government of Afghanistan and Afghan environmental experts. Published in 2003, the assessment highlighted serious and widespread land and resource degradation, including lowered water tables, desiccation of wetlands, widespread loss of vegetative cover, erosion and loss of wildlife.
This led to a request from the Afghan Government for technical assistance to set up a national environmental agency. UNEP’s support has since expanded to focus on rebuilding structures of governance and on addressing urgent urban environmental and natural resource management issues.
Today, UNEP’s Afghanistan programme is focused on building environmental resilience and sustainability throughout the country. To achieve these aims, the programme involves training and mentoring government counterparts, undertaking flagship demonstration projects, and providing technical assistance and advice in the fields of: environmental coordination, environmental law and policy, environmental education and awareness, community-based natural resource management, climate change adaption, protected areas, ecological disaster risk reduction and multilateral environmental agreements.
UNEP is committed to furthering the gains made in sustainable development in Afghanistan over the past decade. A concerted approach, leveraging the technical and policy direction of agencies like National Environmental Protection Agency, and of implementing agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, is vital to ongoing achievements.