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From April 21st – April 23rd, The Norwegian Afghanistan Committee (NAC), in collaboration with Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) and the Afghanistan National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), spearheaded a successful three-day climate dialogue and symposium on the consequences of climate change in Afghanistan. The symposium comprised a dialog with 30 participants (15 women and 15 men) from 13 provinces of Afghanistan, research panels in Oslo and Kabul, and a hybrid meeting with  government officials, public and private universities, UN agencies, the diplomatic community, multi- and bilateral donors, national and international NGOs, and grassroots civil society members in Afghanistan.

A broad spectrum of participants

Amongst the participants in Oslo were the esteemed researchers Dr. Najibullah Hassanzoy, scientist Najibullah Kakar, Dr.Ing Assem Mayar, Dr.Ing Fazlullah Akhtar, and Senior Engineer Andrea Taurisano. CMI was represented in the symposium through senior researchers Arne Strand, Anwesha Dutta and Yograj Gautam.   

In Kabul, five Afghan Ministries and two technical agencies ANDMA (Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority) and NEPA participated, with NEPA being represented by its General Director, Hafiz Aziz-u-Rahman. Important civil society actors such as Women for Women International, represented by Country Director Payvand Seyedali, were present in Kabul. Furthermore, donors and international diplomats participated both in-person in Oslo and Kabul, and digitally.

Grassroots- and local perspectives on the impacts of climate change

Community members from rural Afghanistan were invited to discuss the impacts of climate change and share their recommendations. These 30 community members (15 women and 15 men) came from several provinces and spoke from experience about the suffering and challenges faced on the ground  as a result of climate change. They discussed issues including their communities’ loss of income due to drought,  and a decreased agricultural yields, as well as the increasing costs of producing agricultural products due to higher prices for seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural inputs.

To cope with this, many farmers from rural Afghanistan are forced to sell land, livestock and even their basic belongings. They are often forced to reduce the amount of food they eat and the number of meals they have in a day, take loans, and risk being internally displaced. Also, one of the grassroots-participants said, “As the shared use of natural resources has connected community members, when these resources become scarce (due to climate change), it can cause division and conflict if not properly managed”. These are some of the human impacts of climate change. The recommendations from grassroots community members from rural Afghanistan were clear. There is an urgent need for:   

  • Awareness raising on the impacts of climate change, adaptation and mitigation  
  • Improved agro-based productive and protective infrastructures  
  • Improved natural resources management  
  • Access to renewable/clean energy  
  • Extension of drought resistant crops  
  • Support to farmers with agricultural inputs  
  • Protection of pasture and agricultural lands, and avoidance of using these for residential purposes

Groundbreaking findings

During the 2nd day of the symposium, researchers from universities in Europe and Afghanistan presented ground-breaking research on issues related to increased vulnerabilities to natural disasters. Research findings including:   

  • Population growth, climate change, inadequate infrastructure and disappearance of surface water all working to increase water demand and unsustainable groundwater extraction in both urban and rural Afghanistan, leading to ground subsidence (sinking of land surface); (  
  • A serious depletion of groundwater levels, thus a critical need for integrated water resource management strategies;  
  • A 35% increase in moderate to severe food insecurity between 2016-2022 – one of the main drivers of this was natural disasters;.  
  • The risk of drought is expected to increase due to rainfall reduction, rapid snow melt and change in rainfall patterns. 

Left: Dr. Ing Fazlullah Akhtar Right: Senior Engineer Andrea Taurisano (NVE)


Left: Dr.Ing Assem Mayar Right: Senior researcher Anwesha Dutta (CMI).  

An urgent need for collaboration

All actors agreed that institutional collaboration, research and development, and the implementation of comprehensive national plans are needed. Ultimately, without funding mechanisms and access to international support, Afghanistan will struggle when facing climate change.  To achieve increased sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change, efforts at the systemic level are required.   

The impact of climate change in Afghanistan must be elevated on the international development agenda to preserve global common goods and work to prevent regional conflicts.  


Press contact:
Ayanle Mohamed Ali