Press releases

Tuesday 28 Oct 2003

UNEP project to integrate environment into Afghanistan’s development strategy

At the request of the Transitional Islamic Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) together with the European Commission and the Ministry of Irrigation, Water Resources and Environment (MIWRE) today announced a ˆ4.27 million programme to promote good environmental governance and to support the rehabilitation of the country’s environment.

Kabul/Nairobi, 28 October 2003 – At the request of the Transitional Islamic Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) together with the European Commission and the Ministry of Irrigation, Water Resources and Environment (MIWRE) today announced a ˆ4.27 million programme to promote good environmental governance and to support the rehabilitation of the country’s environment.

The two phased project, largely funded with ˆ3.75 million from the European Commission, will address the key environmental intervention priorities inscribed in the 1382 National Development Budget of the Government of Afghanistan. These interventions aim to address many of the institutional recommendations contained in UNEP’s January 2003 “Afghanistan Post-conflict Environmental Assessment” report.
With an initial funding of ˆ973.000, phase one of the project was launched in Kabul today as a part of the European Commission’s Public Administration Programme. The first phase will organize and build the capacity of a specialized environmental Afghan public administration.

The second phase of the programme, beginning in 2004, supported with another ˆ3,3 million, will further strengthen the capacity of the Ministry’s Department of Environment. This phase will also address other pressing environmental needs such as the development of a protected areas network and related management plans, and the development of environmental education at the university, secondary, primary, and community level.
The combined 30 month programme will strengthen the government’s on-going commitment to incorporate environmental and sustainable development priorities into Afghanistan’s National Development Framework.     

The UNEP Post Conflict Environmental Assessment found that much of the country’s environment has been degraded to an alarming extent, with potentially serious implications for human health. The report highlighted the pressures that conflict, poverty and population growth have placed on freshwater, soils, forests, wildlife and other natural resources. Poor environmental management of wastes has further contributed to health risks.
“Afghanistan’s natural environment is a critical asset for the future development of the country,” said Minister of Environment Dr. Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani. “By strengthening the government’s ability to manage these environmental and natural resources, this project will make an invaluable contribution to Afghanistan’s future.”       

A healthy natural environment and the adoption of sustainable development as a guiding principle are vital to any long-term strategy for economic and social development,” said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer.
“UNEP is committed to supporting efforts by the Afghan authorities to rehabilitate the country’s environment – which has been devastated by over 30 years of conflict – and to promote the sustainable management of its natural resources,” he said.
“During the last decade, the Commission struggled to support efforts to protect the environment under near impossible conditions and with no functioning government partner. So today it is clear that we have reason to be optimistic as we can finally address the need to protect Afghanistan’s environment. And we are proud to be able to support our government partners and welcome the continuing efforts of the UN”, noted The European Commission’s Head of Operations in Kabul, Jean-Francois Cautain.
The “Capacity and Institution Building for Environmental Management in Afghanistan” project will support a team of six Afghan and international experts, together with a pool of short-term experts. Located within the Department of Environment, they will train up to 45 Ministry staff and conduct training workshops for environmental stakeholders and inter-ministerial task forces.

The project will provide training and technical support in order to:
1. Facilitate consultation, coordination, cooperation and the mainstreaming of environmental issues and projects within the National Development Framework.
2. Improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Department of Environment in accordance with the national restructuring process.
3. Contribute to institutionalizing environmental impact assessment through the development of Environmental Impact Assessment policies, procedures and legislation.
4. Contribute to developing national environmental policy and a national environmental action plan and mechanisms for inter-ministerial coordination.
5. Contribute to institutionalizing environmental laws and regulations by developing an environmental legal and regulatory framework.
6. Facilitate state-of-the-environment reporting by developing environmental quality monitoring, information management, analyses and reporting.
7. Increase public awareness of environmental issues by developing awareness campaigns, public reporting, environmental education and participation in decision making.
8. Contribute to re-establishing linkages between national, provincial and local levels of government by developing pilot projects on provincial and local-level environmental management.
9. Assist in implementing multilateral and regional environmental agreements by developing project proposals and strengthening legal harmonization and reporting.

Note to journalists: For more information, please contact in Nairobi Eric Falt at +254-2-62-3292, +254-733-682656 (cell) or eric.falt@unep.org; Nick Nuttall at +254-2-62-3084, +254-733-632755 (cell) or nick.nuttall@unep.org; or in Geneva Michael Williams at +41-22-917-8242/8196/8244, +41-79-409-1528 (cell) or michael.williams@unep.ch.

Tuesday 28 Oct 2003
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