07 Aug 2017 Story Disasters & conflicts

Afghanistan celebrates World Environment Day

Kabul – In honor of World Environment Day (WED), UNEP and Afghanistan National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) hosted a week of festivities to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change in both rural and urban settings in the country. The week of activities, which wrapped up on Saturday, included environmental and cultural activities from climate change adaption trainings, drama and children drawing competitions.

Keeping in the line with this year global theme for WED Raise your voice not the sea level, local events held in Afghanistan celebrated the idea of Afghan Mountain Areas as Ecological Islands.

In the central highlands, in Daikundi and Bamyan provinces, UNEP together with national government authorities discussed aspects of climate change and ecology putting local issues such as water, insects, plants, sanitation and land issues in the context of a rapidly drying Central Highlands region.

"Afghanistan has remarkable resilience in its rangelands, forests and high alpine regions" said Andrew Scanlon, Country Programme Manager, UNEP. "However in the past decades, the carrying capacity of this ecological hotspot and its unique "toughness" is being put under great strain.

Population in Afghanistan is increasing, and highly destructive practices that damage soil, water and biodiversity are becoming more common," he added.

As part of WED, National government colleagues from NEPA and partner organization, the Wildlife Conservation Society traveled to the Wakhan Corridor, where a large proportion of Afghanistan's remaining glaciers, snow leopards and wild antelope can be found. During the excursion, the team met with Kirghiz and Wakhi elders to establish the partnership for the country's second national park.

Back in Kabul, UNEP and the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU) hosted a lecture series for the university students with the eminent Nancy Dupree Hatch, Director of the Afghanistan Centre and longtime environmental champion. The lecture series provided a forum for engaging the next generation of scientists, doctors and foresters and during the series a library of key environmental books were presented to the university library and ACKU archive.

Activities for World Environment Day were part of UNEP Building Environmental Resilience in Afghanistan (BERA) country programme funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Department for International Development (DFID), European Commission, the Ministry of Environment of Estonia, and UNESCO.

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