6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where are we?

UNDP Afghanistan : More than 20 years of war, a decade of drought and the unsustainable use of natural resources have degraded Afghanistan's environment.

Since its inception, National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) has worked towards incorporating principles of sustainable development into laws, policies and strategies of the country. 18 sets of laws, regulations, guidelines and procedures are developed with regards to environmental issues. Afghanistan is party to around 9 Multilateral Environmental Agreement and 3 protocols and the official process of Conventions on Migratory Species and Nagoya Protocol have been finalized are currently being proposed to council of minister for approval. Identifying and enlisting of at least 138 endangered-species (3% of the native species), initiation of a Presidential Decree to protect endangered animals and importantly attempting to incorporate environmental curriculum into education curricula of the country are some of NEPA’s attempts toward incorporation of principles of sustainable development into laws, policies, and strategies of Afghanistan.

Although slow in pace, but proportion of land area covered by forests is increasing through efforts led by the government and the international donors by planting of new trees. As of 2012, 2% of Afghanistan’s area is covered by forests. Ratio of areas protected to maintain biological diversity to surface area is increasing as well, and NEPA in cooperation with Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Live-stocks (MAIL) has developed a system (National Protected Areas System Plan) to keep track of these areas.

Unfortunately, Carbon dioxide emissions have increased. However, consumption of ozone-depleting substances has decreased significantly with a shift from use of solid fuels to natural gas and electricity.
Proportion of people having access to an improved water source and improved sanitation has increased slightly; however, with respect to targets for these indicators, achievements are very marginal in this area and the progress is precariously behind the schedule.

Unfortunately, slum dwelling has increased as well. While the main reason for slum dwelling is said to be poverty and economic misfortunes, but in Afghanistan context, the issue is largely affected by Internally Displaced Persons or widely known as IDPs induced by conflicts in the country. Most of the IDPs have taken refuge in slums of major cities including the capital which thus has increased the number of slum dwellers. They have also settled in barren lands in outskirts of the cities therefore creating new slums.

UNDP's work in Afghanistan

  • UNDP Afghanistan / Sayeed Farhad Zalmai: Nine-year old Shabana and her brother draw water for their family from Chai-i-Kar's only water source, the Joe-e-Projey canal.

    New environmental councils spur development in provincial communities
    Environmental Councils

    Char-i-Kar, Parwar Province: Standing at the edge of Joe-e-Projey canal in the northern town of Char-i-Kar, Mohammad Tahir, a car mechanic, rues the fate of childrenmore

  • Prince Mostafa Zaher, Director General of National Environmental Protection Agency addressing the Meeting for Launch of Small Grants Programme in Afghanistan

    $2.2M GEF Initiative to Promote Community Action
     Small Grants Programme

    Kabul, Afghanistan: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme that is designed to bring benefits of community-based environmental management to Afghanistan was launched heremore

Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums