ONE UN for AFGHANISTAN

National Conference on Sustainable Ecosystem Management for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation: from Mountains to Deserts 25 – 26 March 2019 – Kabul, Afghanistan

National Conference on Sustainable Ecosystem Management for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation: from Mountains to Deserts 25 – 26 March 2019 – Kabul, Afghanistan

Category:Press Release

According to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Afghanistan is one of the top ten countries most vulnerable to disasters, with massive humanitarian crises and adverse environmental impacts. Millions of people are affected annually by extensive droughts and flash floods, but providing appropriate response and recovery measures to affected people are beyond current capacities in the country. Consequently, Afghanistan’s capacity for disaster risk reduction needs to be bolstered and scaled up urgently. Nature-based and environmentally friendly solutions to reduce the risk of disasters are cost-effective disaster mitigation measures that need to be promoted at all levels and mainstreamed across sectors.    

UN Environment, as a member of the Afghanistan Resilience Consortium and in collaboration with the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) and Kabul University, convened a national conference on 25–26 March 2019 in Kabul with the objective of advancing the role of ecosystems in national development plans, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation practices, policies and implementation processes.    

This two-day national conference brought together management authorities from 34 provincial offices of ANDMA and NEPA, representatives from the donor community and UN agencies, NGOs, and national and international experts to focus on the key objectives of Afghanistan’s Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy. These practitioners brought together knowledge and experience from across the country and abroad for strengthening coherence and integration between DRR, climate change adaptation, climate change mitigation and sustainable management of ecosystems with the aim to contribute towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.   

In welcoming the conference delegates, the Deputy Minister of the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), Mr. Mohammad Qasim Haidari and Deputy Director-General of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), Mr. Ezatulah Sediqi, both emphasized the importance of environmental protection and the integration and mainstreaming of ecosystem-based solutions into national and sub-national plans, policies and strategies for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in Afghanistan. Both dignitaries expressed their appreciation of this unique opportunity for provincial-level authorities of ANDMA and NEPA to come together for a joint assessment of Afghanistan’s environment and key ecosystems and how they relate to DRR strategy and plans.    

During this conference UN Environment Afghanistan officially launched some recently finalized publications including the:

1) Curriculum Framework for the Disaster Management Department of the Environment Faculty, Kabul University;

2) Curriculum Framework for the Environmental Science Department of the Environment Faculty, Kabul University;

3) Curriculum Framework for the Natural Resources Management Department of the Environment Faculty, Kabul University;

4) Hazard and Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment toolkit of the Afghanistan Resilience Consortium; and

5) Community-Based Disaster Preparedness (CBDP) toolkit of the Afghanistan Resilience Consortium.

The various Curriculum Frameworks were developed for the Faculty of Environment of Kabul University through a close partnership with Kabul University and the University of Montana, and can be used by other educational institutions including universities and training courses across the country.

The toolkits were developed in collaboration with the Afghanistan Resilience Consortium (ARC) to facilitate local-level assessments of community resilience and vulnerability to climate change and natural hazards in preparation for community-based DRR and adaptation in Afghanistan.

Some of the key messages from this conference included:

  1. Climate change has exacerbated the impacts of hazards significantly in the face of poverty and high level of dependency on natural resources for livelihoods in rural Afghanistan. Sustainably managed, ecosystems such as rangelands and forests can significantly reduce disaster and climate risks while supporting livelihoods.

  2. Afghanistan’s key ecosystems such as forests and rangelands can reduce the impact of natural hazards while providing communities with food, energy resources and sources of income in the immediate and long term if sustainably managed.

  3. Contextual determination of integrated ecosystem-based approaches for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation within the Afghan context includes: A) environmental management planning to contribute toward reducing vulnerability against natural hazards and social disaster; B) implementation mechanisms for the recently-developed DRR strategy of Afghanistan; and C) ecosystem-oriented solutions integrated into natural livelihood resources to tackle the multi-dimensional issues behind disaster risks in rural Afghanistan.