Home to spectacular and diverse landscapes including mountains, deserts, and woodlands, Afghanistan is rich in living resources and natural beauty. However, years of protracted conflict, instability and population growth have far reaching implications for the country’s natural environment. In order to preserve these precious resources and the ecological services that support the surrounding communities, UNEP is working with key government counterparts such as the National Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, as well as the Wildlife Conservation Society NGO to establish a network of protected areas within Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has been identified as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change. At present, the country is experiencing an increase in the number and intensity of droughts, as well as more frequent flooding events. With a legacy of instability and conflict, poorly developed infrastructure, and a population that largely depends on subsistence agriculture, the need to support community resilience and adaptation to climate change is paramount.
To achieve these ends, UNEP is strengthening a landscape approach to respond to climate change in four large landscapes in Afghanistan. This programme includes local capacity to ensure effective adaptation planning and protection of communities, ecosystems, and development against climate change.
Additional achievements include:
- UNEP, working with the Government of Afghanistan and the National Environmental Protection Agency, has finalised the Implementation Strategy 2014-2017 for the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Afghanistan
- Protected Areas regulations have been finalized by the Ministry of Justice. UNEP is supporting one specific large landscape site, Shah Foladi Community Conservation Area, in the Koh-e Baba Mountains.
- Development of the 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.
- Supporting national and local structures to better anticipate and respond to climate change-induced extreme weather events.
- Integrating climate change adaptation into national policy and development plans to better plan for the long term effects of climate change.
- Spearheading a national awareness campaign on climate change adaptation that targets government, civil society, and communities.
- Developing a national climate change adaptation strategy.
- Initiating a national platform on climate change finance, to enable Afghanistan to access global environmental resources and deliver the funds to real projects on the ground in a transparent and practical manner.
- Band-e Amir was declared as a National Park in 2009, Wakhan Corridor massive conservation area declared in April 2014 and Shah Foladi as a National Landscape Conservation Area in 2015