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UNEP Afghanistan programme

Together with the Afghan government, UNEP conceptualized a phased approach for providing assistance to Afghanistan with regard to environmental management. Phase 1, running from 2002-2003, assessed the environmental situation, and developed an action plan for addressing the key environmental problems. The Afghanistan Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment Report found, amongst other things, a degraded natural resources base and severely limited national capacity to address the problems.

Phase 2, running from 2003-2007 focused on building the basic institutional, legal and human capacity for effective environmental management at the national level. Finally, Phase 3, running from 2008-2010 will provide assistance to the national environmental authorities to implement the environmental management framework across the country, and to manage the process of environmental restoration and community-based management. Each phase has been developed and implemented in close partnership with the environmental administration, NGOs, sister UN agencies and bi and multi-lateral partners.

UNEP trains and mentors counterpart staff from the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) and provides technical assistance and advice in the fields of environmental coordination, environmental law and policy, environmental impact assessment and pollution control, environmental education and awareness, community-based natural resources management, protected areas, and multilateral environmental agreements.

The following achievements have been supported through UNEP's Capacity-Building and Institutional Development Programme for Environmental Management in Afghanistan so far:

Environmental institutions and coordination
UNEP is supporting the National Environmental Protection Agency to facilitate consultation, coordination and cooperation among stakeholders in order to mainstream environmental considerations within government strategies.

  • Establishment of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), as Afghanistan's environmental policy-making and regulatory institution tasked to regulate, coordinate, monitor and enforce, in 2005.
  • Development of National Environmental Strategy of Afghanistan and integration of environmental considerations into relevant ministry and sector strategies within the development process of Afghanistan's National Development Strategy (ANDS).
  • Establishment of the inter-ministerial Committee for Environmental Coordination (CEC) and the National Environmental Advisory Council (NEAC), fora to ensure national participation and inter-ministerial coordination with regard to the implementation of NEPA's mandate and the effective integration of environmental considerations into government policies and public life.

Environmental law and policy

UNEP is contributing to the development and institutionalization of environmental laws and regulations through training and technical support in the development of an integrated environmental legal, regulatory and policy framework. An essential step throughout the development of this framework is an extensive public consultation process with national and international stakeholders.

  • UNEP provided extensive technical and drafting support regarding the development of the Environment Law of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and supported the facilitation of an inter-ministerial and stakeholder consultation process and the promulgation of the Law through the Ministry of Justice and President's Office. The final version of the Environment Law, approved by the National Assembly, came into force in January 2007.
  • Environmental impact assessment regulations and regulations for the regulation of ozone depleting substances have been approved by the Cabinet.
  • The draft Forestry Law and Protected Area Regulations have been submitted to the Ministry of Justice for review and processing.
  • A Forestry and Rangeland management policy has been developed.
  • The Water Law has been approved by the Cabinet and is with the Parliament for ratification.
  • The Rangeland Law is under development.

Environmental impact assessment and pollution control

UNEP is contributing to the institutionalization of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Pollution Control through training and technical support in the development and effective implementation of Environmental Impact Assessment policies, procedures and legislation.

  • Environmental Impact Assessment Policy has been approved.
  • EIA regulations have been approved and will be gazetted shortly.
  • EIA administrative guidelines have been approved.
  • A pollution control policy paper has been approved.
  • Work has been started on the development of a waste management policy and of environmental quality standards for air, water and pollution control.
  • A survey to identify the types of chemicals currently used by the industry in Afghanistan and the main chemical pollutants likely to have a significant impact on human health has been conducted.
  • A report on the determination of waste streams in Afghanistan has been developed.

Environmental information and education

UNEP is supporting NEPA to increase public awareness of environmental issues through training and technical support in the development of awareness campaigns, environmental reporting, environmental education and public participation in decision-making.

  • A brochure giving an overview on NEPA has been developed.
  • A State of the Environment Report for Afghanistan has been developed.
  • Six weeks environmental journalism training (training of trainers, professional journalists, photojournalists).
  • Support in organizing events for World Environment Day (WED) and other international environmental observances.
  • Development of posters on water and forest and information leaflets on wildlife, rangelands, waste-water and solid waste.
  • Development of supplementary environmental material for primary and secondary schools and communities.
  • Technical assistance to NEPA staff responsible for communications, outreach and education provided to support the implementation of their mandate.

Community-based natural resources management

NEPA has identified the urgent need to re-establish community-based natural resources management and rehabilitation practices. UNEP is assisting by providing advice in the identification and implementation of pilot projects across the country and identifying best practice.

  • Missions conducted throughout Afghanistan for identification of potential field sites for pilot CBNRM projects in cooperation with partner agencies.
  • Completed funding and implementation of six pilot CBNRM projects focusing on issues of water resource rehabilitation, disaster mitigation, irrigation canal reparations, water conservation and fruit and nut-tree development in two districts of Herat province.
  • Completed funding and implementation of two solar household electrification projects in remote rural households in villages in Badakhshan and Bamyan provinces.
  • Preliminary meetings were held with the Department of Forestry (DoF) in the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss options for adapting the CBNRM component to support institutional strengthening of DoF as it creates programs related to the growing body natural resource laws and policies such as the Forest Law and Protected Areas Regulations.

Protected areas

UNEP is providing support to the National Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to establish a network of protected areas within Afghanistan.

  • Draft Protected Areas regulations have been finalized through stakeholder consultation and submitted to the Ministry of Justice for review and processing.
  • Development of Biodiversity Profile of Afghanistan assessing Afghanistan's biodiversity, ecological hotspots and conservation potential, and recommending steps for strengthening the network of protected areas and support community-based natural resource management.
  • Draft management plans for Dasht-e Nawar Flamingo and Waterfowl Sanctuary, Kole Hashmat Khan Wetlands, Band-e Amir National Park and Ajar Valley have been developed.
  • The Bande Amir coordination committee made substantive progress towards establishment of Bande Amir as a National Park and declaration as a Provisional Conservation Area will occur once the Protected Area Regulations are approved.

Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)

UNEP is assisting NEPA and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) in the implementation of multilateral and regional environmental agreements through training and technical support in project proposal development, legal harmonization, and reporting.

  • Assistance in fulfilling the administrative obligations of each ratified convention in order to become eligible to receive technical and financial assistance (UNCBD, UNCCD, UNFCCC, CITES, Ozone Treaties).
  • Appropriate MEA institutional structures within NEPA, as well as inter-ministerial linkages, have been developed.
  • Assistance in the preparation and implementation of a National Capacity Needs Self-Assessment and a National Adaptation Programme of Action.
  • Facilitation of the accession to additional multilateral environmental agreements, including Ramsar and CMS. The "brown" MEAs will be acceded to in 2008 and beyond.
  • Assistance in developing GEF projects, including enabling activities under Rio Conventions.
  • Facilitation of the participation of Afghan officials in various COP and technical meetings of the conventions, and assistance provided in the development of relevant progress reports and debriefing reports.
  • Workshops and training sessions for counterpart staff conducted on specific MEAs. Arranged for counterparts to attend MEA training sessions abroad.

UNEP colleagues remember Lindia Norgrove

For more information on UNEP's Afghanistan programme please contact Wali Modaqiq, Officer-in-Charge on: