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.
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
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."