National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA)
by Abdullah Qazi
September 21, 2008
Last updated: June 4, 2009
Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency was established in 2005. In the same year, Afghanistan’s first Environmental Law was drafted and signed by President Hamid Karzai. It then went though amendments by the National Assembly and the final version was finally promulgated in early 2007. The law defines the agency’s function as well as its powers. NEPA serves as Afghanistan’s environmental policy-making and regulatory institution. It’s role is to regulate, coordinate, monitor and enforce environmental laws. The agency is expected to play a major role in environmental protection, as well as to be the central point in dealing with the management of Afghanistan’s environment so that it benefits all the citizens of Afghanistan.
Per the Environmental Law, NEPA has the following functions and powers:
(1) – maintain environmental integrity and promote the sustainable use of natural resources;
(2) – promote conservation and rehabilitation of the environment;
(3) – coordinate environmental affairs at the local, national and international levels;
(4) – develop and implement national environmental policies and strategies in order to integrate environmental issues and sustainable development approaches into the legal and regulatory frameworks;
(5) – provide environmental management services in the areas of environmental impact assessment, air and water quality management, waste management, pollution control, and permitting of related activities;
(6) – establish communication and outreach for environmental information to ensure improved awareness of environmental issues;
(7) – implement bilateral or multilateral environmental agreements to which Afghanistan is a Party;
(8) – implement the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES);
(9) – sign on behalf of the government agreements regarding the protection and rehabilitation of the environment;
(10) – promote and manage the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan‘s accession to and ratification of bilateral and multilateral environmental agreements;
(11) – coordinate the preparation and implementation of a national programme for environmental monitoring and effectively utilise the data provided by that programme;
(12) – prepare every two years in relation to urban areas and every five years in relation to rural areas a State of the Environment report for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for submission to the President‘s Office;
(13) – prepare an interim State of the Environment report on emerging issues relevant to the environment in Afghanistan not less than every two years;
(14) – within a period of three years of promulgation of this Act, develop a national environmental action plan, which assesses the urgency and importance of actions that should be taken in the short, medium and long-term in order to prevent, eliminate and reduce adverse effects as described in the most recent State of the Environment report, and, in consultation with relevant ministries and institutions, determines a coordinated strategy and schedule for the implementation of those actions;
(15) – periodically compile and publish reports on significant environmental indicators;
(16) – on an annual basis, compile and publish a report that details the authorisations granted and activities undertaken by the National Environmental Protection Agency;
(17) – assess the effectiveness of the implementation of the Act and any regulations made under it in improving the sustainability of the use and management of natural resources and conservation and rehabilitation of the environment;
(18) – develop and implement plans for environmental training, environmental education and environmental awareness-raising in cooperation with relevant ministries and public bodies;
(19) – actively coordinate and cooperate with ministries, Provincial Councils and District and Village Councils, public bodies and the private sector on all issues related to sustainable use of natural resources and conservation and rehabilitation of the environment;
(20) – monitor the implementation of the objectives and provisions of this law;
(21) – fulfil any other functions that may be assigned by the Council of Ministers.
For more, see full text of Afghanistan’s Environment Law
Protected Species List Released By NEPA
In June 2009, Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) officially released Afghanistan’s first ever list of protected species. The species on this list became protected against illegal hunting or harvest. NEPA, with help from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Kabul University and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, created the Afghanistan Wildlife Executive Committee (AWEC) to facilitate the listing process. 33 species were put on the list, including 20 mammals, seven birds, four plants, an amphibian and an insect. The list includes well known species such as the snow leopard (Panthera uncia), the wolf and the brown bear, as well as lesser-known species such as the Paghman salamander (Paradactylodon mustersi), goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), Saker falcon (Falco cherrug), markhor (Capra falconeri), and the Himalayan elm tree (Ulmus wallichiana).
The releasing of the much needed list came at a very critical time as former President Hamid Karzai’s Presidential Decree banning hunting in the country expired in March 2009. Thanks to this effort, Afghanistan’s wildlife which is part of the overall Afghan natural heritage can be protected. NEPA’s job includes managing these protected species by writing up recovery plans for the threatened species. NEPA will re-evaluate the species every five years to see if the populations have recovered to the point where they can be removed from the protected species list.
Other Environmental Topics