UNDP Afghanistan, in partnership with Environment Watch Afghanistan and the National Environment Protection Agency Marked the World Environment Day (WED) with serious of activities.
World Environment Day was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 during the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment with the aim of encouraging greater awareness and action on protecting our environment.
The theme for World Environment Day 2019 is #BeatAirPollution, a call to action to make changes in our everyday lives to reduce air pollution.
Cycling for the Environment was one of the main activities in celebration of World Environment Day. It was a fun way of engaging the public with the environment with an activity. The event coincided with the declaration of 14th June as National Cycling day by the Government of Afghanistan. A group of 200 people from government, civil society, and the national cycling federation of Afghanistan and youths from all across the country cycled a distance of around 3000m.
“It was a great initiative and encouraged our people to take part in reducing air pollution by using bicycles for daily transportation” said Schah-Zaman Maiwandi, the Director General of NEPA , which participated in the event
EcoTalk was the second activity conducted in celebration of World Environment Day. This activity was a discussion among graduates, private sectors, government leaders, environmentalists, university instructors & youth from across the country.
The media and social media campaign was another major activity during the celebration of World Environment Day. More than 20 messages with graphics were designed and disseminated on social media platforms. A short video clip on air pollution was produced and more than 12 shows were dedicated exclusively to the theme of #BeatAirPollution on national radio and television. Campaigns through the media and social media were conducted during the seven days of WED, as well as a week prior to the event. The campaign reached nearly half a million people within Afghanistan.
Air pollution is an important environmental challenge in Afghanistan. Each year, an estimated 27,000 Afghans die from the effects of indoor air pollution and a further 11,000 from air pollution outdoors. The most vulnerable population groups are women, children and the elderly, as they generally have greater exposure to indoor air pollution.
These deaths are mainly because from respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, asthma and lung cancer, while air pollution also increases risks related to other conditions like heart disease and strokes.
During the winter of 2019, Kabul was regularly ranked as the most polluted city in the world. Winter pollution in Kabul stems from a combination of thermal inversion - a natural process whereby cold air remains close to the ground, trapping pollution in the city; and increased emissions due to domestic heating and cooking, including the burning of harmful substances like coal, low quality fuel, plastic and rubber.
The United Nations Development Programme in Afghanistan recognises that the themes of environmental degradation, socio-economic well-being, peace-building and gender equality are all intricately and indivisibly linked. Consequently, we seek to address these issues by ensuring that our work takes into account the multi-dimensional and intersectional nature of the vulnerabilities of the people of Afghanistan that we seek to serve.
This includes our critical work in supporting the Government of Afghanistan in environmental restoration, disaster risk reduction, ensuring clean water, improved agricultural productivity, reducing pollution and addressing the impacts of climate change.
On this World Environment Day 2019 we renewed our commitment not only to beating air pollution, but also to addressing the broader range of environmental issues in the knowledge that peace and a healthy environment are both basic rights that should be enjoyed by each and every citizen of this country.