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Poverty alleviation, the environment, sustainable development in a globalized world

Governing Council/Global
Ministerial Environment Forum
22nd Session
Nairobi, Kenya
3-7 February 2003

Highlights : GC Profiles


Photo: ENB

The war might be over, but...
Interview with Dr. Ahmed Yusuf Nuristani

Dr. Ahmed Yusuf Nuristani, Minister for Irrigation, Water Resources and Environment of the Afghanistan Transitional Authority, shares his views on the linkages between conflict, the environment and sustainable development.

"The transitional government in Afghanistan attaches great importance to the protection of the environment, which for the last 30 years had not been a priority. President Karzai is personally interested in working towards dealing with the environmental devastation caused by war and developing our relationship with the UN and the international community in that respect.

The war might be over, but we are still fighting against drought, desertification, and deforestation. But our worst enemies are poverty and ignorance.

The local communities depend for their livelihoods on natural resources. Bur their consumption patterns are not sustainable, which add to the environmental stress Afghanistan has to endure.

Within the government itself, we need to build capacities. In the future, we want to have the capacity to depend on ourselves to provide environmental assessments and respond to the requirements of environmental management in a sustainable way.

Creating a framework for environmental law is among the major issues the transitional government is addressing, both internally and with regional and international partners. A first draft has already been prepared and is being discussed with members of the government. The constitutional committee is also working on a number of articles that address environmental development and conservation.

Afghanistan is taking confident steps towards regional cooperation in the field of the environment. We are members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), a regional economic forum at the ministerial level. Last year we held the first ministerial meeting on the environment. We are committed to working with our neighbours in that field. Moreover, I had made a proposal that was endorsed by ECO member states and is part of the Tehran Declaration, to create a Regional Environmental Protection Agency by 2004.

We are looking up to UNEP to provide guidance and support to our environmental programmes. The report was a pioneering effort. The recommendations are realistic, and we look forward to implementing them."