Strengthening environmental coordination and supporting the development of institutions that oversee environmental management has been a central focus of UNEP’s work in Afghanistan.
In 2003, UNEP helped to establish Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), the country’s leading environmental policy-making and regulatory institution. Since its inception in 2004, and formal recognition under national legislation in 2007, UNEP has worked to strengthen and grow NEPA by providing technical assistance and facilitating coordination and consultations among key stakeholders. This support has helped to ensure environmental considerations are included in key government and development strategies.
Since 2003, UNEP has worked to advance a legal and policy framework in Afghanistan by providing technical assistance, drafting support, and facilitating public consultations with national and international stakeholders. This engagement has led to a number of important laws and policy documents including the 2007 Environment Law, which created a regulatory framework for the management of natural resources, the Forest Law, the Rangeland Law, Clean Air Regulations, Protected Area Regulations, and National Environmental Action Plan. UNEP has also advanced environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations, a national EIA policy and trained staff for its implementation.
Within the international community, UNEP serves as a key technical advisor to the United Nations, international NGOs and the donor community on environmental policy and best practice on environmental issues in Afghanistan. This includes policy support on crosscutting environmental issues as well as technical guidance notes to UN partners for large joint projects.
In addition to a rich biodiversity, Afghanistan is estimated to hold some one trillion dollars in mineral reserves. These reserves are attracting new investment in the form of large-scale resource extraction projects, mines, drilling, fracking, pipelines and a large number of new dams. As large-scale extraction and infrastructure programmes are set up, UNEP is working with the government and international community to ensure sufficient environmental data and safeguards are in place to sustainably manage the sector.
UNEP’s work in this area includes:
- Development of the 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.
- Establishment of the inter-ministerial Committee for Environmental Coordination and the National Environmental Advisory Council, 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.
- EIA regulations and administrative guidelines approved and gazetted;
- A pollution control policy paper that has been approved;
- Waste management policy and environmental standards for air, water and pollution control;
- A project on Persistant Organic Pollutants to identify the 23 types of harmful persistant chemicals currently used in Afghanistan and the main chemical pollutants likely to have a significant impact on human health runs from 2015-2017