International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Afghanistan

Article 15 of Afghanistan’s Constitution states: ”The state shall be obligated to adopt necessary measures to protect and improve forests as well as the living environment”.

April 2005: The National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) was created by President Hamid Karzai.

December 2005: The Afghan cabinet approved legislation which confers legal power to govern and protect the environment. The Environment Act designates administrative roles at the national level and coordination among its 34 provinces, creating a framework for governing natural resource conservation and biodiversity, pollution control, and law enforcement.

January 2007: The Environment Law came into force. Approved by the National Assembly, the legislation creates a framework for the governance of environmental management in Afghanistan.

Featured Legislation

NEPA legislation is based on recommendations by a team of policy analysts from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). According to UNEP, due to previous decades of conflict and drought in Afghanistan, nearly all of its wetlands and forests were destroyed. The human security issues are laid bare when we consider how Afghanistan’s environment adversely affects the health of its people, perpetuating a cycle of abject poverty which constrains the country’s post-conflict reconstruction and development.

NEPA (which emerged from the former Ministry of Irrigation, Water Resources, and Environment) works alongside other agencies: the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock; the Ministry of Water and Energy; the Ministry of Mines; the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development; the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing; the Ministry of Public Health; the Ministry of Transport; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Ministry of Public Works. NEPA is empowered to appoint environmental inspectors under the Environment Law. If offenders fail to comply with the law, the Ministry of Interior; the Afghan National Police; and the Attorney General’s Office and court system will prosecute the offender. Some of the pressing issues in Afghanistan include:

  • Unequal distribution of water resources
  • The uptick in environmental refugees
  • Continued deforestation, which leads to increased soil erosion, desertification and reduced fertility and ecosystem services
  • Floods, mudslides and rapid water drainage during the wet season
  • Land degradation and resource scarcity
  • Existing chemical contamination of some air, soil and water resources

2009: The Afghanistan Dairy Policy was approved as a national Policy aimed to facilitate the access of people to dairy products and prevent the waste of surplus milk in rural areas. The Policy is based on the following principles: animal husbandry is the basis of rural economy in Afghanistan; most of the rural areas produce milk more than their needs which shall be sold in urban areas; enhancement of local animal husbandry system requires the modifications of livestock’s feeding and caring methods as well as increase the knowledge of stockbreeders. The main objectives of the Policy include: achieve the food security in the country; improve the economy of people in rural areas; improve the capacity of national dairy sector; increase the quality and quantity of marketable livestock products; develop processing and marketing methods for dairy products; deploy modern technologies for animal husbandry; develop and support cooperatives, unions, and private companies in the field; reduce the exportation of dairy products; make the better use of human and natural resources; make the sustainable use of soil, land, water, and energy; protect environment; increase public awareness. The Policy encourages the creation of cooperatives and investment of the private sector in the animal husbandry sector. The stockbreeders should be assisted and trained about livestock breeding, feeding, health, cattle management, and livestock’ products marketing. Increases in the number of animals, modification of the feeding system, cattle quality improvement, adjustment of breeding methods, promotion of financial system, and acceleration the transport of milk to the market are necessary measures which should be taken for raising the quality and quantity of milk products in the country. The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock is the authority prepared this Policy and responsible for its implementation. The Ministry also is required to assist animal husbandry sector through the provision of technical and health services, provision of simple and usable technologies, improvement of the farming and animal husbandry systems in rural areas, cooling, storage, and transportation equipment.

2015: The Climate Change and Governance Framework was instituted. In order to identify past achievements and current and future entry points for the further mainstreaming of climate change into the country’s national development framework, the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) developed in 2015 this report on climate change governance in Afghanistan. To dictate the urgency were the last projections for Afghanistan, which suggest that by 2100 the country will see a strong increase in mean annual temperature coupled with an overall decrease in water availability. The most vulnerable sectors have been identified in: (i) agriculture; (ii) biodiversity and ecosystems; (iii) infrastructure and energy; (iv) forestry and rangelands; (v) natural disasters; and (vi) water. For each sector, the document provides an overview of the governance and concerned institutions, explains the climate impact projections and suggests entry points for the integration of climate change into Afghanistan’s plans, policies, strategies, and projects.

2018: The Food Security and Nutrition Plan (AFSeN) was introduced as a nationwide sectoral document built upon the AFSeN-Agenda (AFSeN-A) to achieve the overall goal of improving the food security and nutrition situation of Afghan people, so that they can become food-secure, well-nourished, healthy, and productive, as per the Vision. The consequent Mission is to implement and scale up evidence-based and innovative multi-sectoral food security and nutrition interventions. To achieve the aforementioned overall goal, the Plan sets out a number of Strategic Objectives, as follows (i) ensure adequate economic and physical access to food, especially for vulnerable and food-insecure population groups; (ii) ensure food and nutrition supplies over time and in emergency situations; (iii) improve the quality of nutritious diets, particularly among women, children, and vulnerable groups; (iv) increase access to nutrition-related quality health care services; (v) improve water, sanitation, and hygiene as well as education for better nutrition; (vi) improve rural infrastructure and strengthen nutrition-sensitive value chains; (vii) increase availability of nutrient-rich foods through domestic (local) food production; (viii) increase the nutritional and market value of foods; and (ix) strengthen food security and nutrition governance.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • In 2017: President Ashraf Ghani declared that Section 838 of the Criminal Act will be used to prosecute those found guilty of committing pollution-related crimes; offenders could face up to 16 and 20 years in prison. Environmental degradation in Afghanistan is a direct result of socioeconomic inequities and it is driving transnational environmental crime and human insecurity. Subsistence farmers displaced by desertification and climate change have begun to grow poppies to support the thriving drug trade. Referred to as the “village of widows”, Qala-e-Biwaha is home to women who have lost their husbands to the opium trade, many of whom have disappeared trying to smuggle opium into Iran.
  • The Health Effects Institute’s  State of Global Air project reveals that air pollution was attributable to 51,600 deaths in Afghanistan in 2016 : that is approximately 406 deaths per 100,000. Air pollution in the country is among the worst in the world.

References and Further Reading


National Environmental Protection Agency: