Climate Change in Afghanistan: Perspectives and Opportunities

Afghanistan is among the median countries in the world when it comes to GHG emissions. It is however among the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change, particularly in relation to vulnerability to droughts, floods, landslides/avalanches. This is due to some extent to its level of exposure but it is also the consequence of a very high sensitivity of its population to the stimulus of climate shocks. The sensitivity is multidimensional and is based on socio-economic, cultural and political factors. Women are among the most severely affected  as climate change often affects a number of daily tasks that are culturally associated with women's responsibility such as household water supply or collecting resources for heating and cooking, etc.

The expectations for Afghanistan are not so much about reducing GHG (at least not in the short- to mid-term) as this would neither be realistic nor fair considering the poverty situation and the comparatively low level of development in the country. The challenge is more about ensuring that the increase in GHG emissions that accompanies the development of the country is benefiting more the poor who are the most vulnerable to the effect of climate change.

Afghanistan is not short of policy documents that provide a framework to tackle issues related to climate change, even though a national development strategy on climate change is missing. What is most problematic is an overarching lack of capacity that limits progress when it comes to the actual  application of the policies and implementation of plans.

Up to now the main programs are led by UNEP. Some NGOs do relevant work that directly or indirectly relate to climate change and/or vulnerability to climate related shocks. This includes work on renewable energies and capacity building capacity of communities in relation to disaster preparedness, or more broadly speaking on poverty alleviation. But the extent to which each of these initiatives impact on vulnerability of communities is unclear.

There has been a global absence of interest in the topic despite climate change being regularly mentioned as a problem for Afghanistan development.

What is also missing is a strong involvement of the civil society facilitating debates and discussions on the broad strategy that Afghanistan should adopt when it comes to climate change.

With its experience in facilitating learning and information exchange platforms, HBS could play a very useful role in developing platforms that facilitate capacity building of CSOs. In a nutshell this platform would:

  • Facilitate discussions around the various definitions, concepts and approaches related to climate change.

  • Facilitate collective analysis of studies related to climate change (including on issues of vulnerability).

  • Facilitate collective analysis of existing policies and programs, especially when it comes to the extent to which policies and programs are 'pro-poor' and the extent to which they follow a human right approach.

  • Support knowledge and data sharing among INGOs and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and advocate for access to information.

  • Support knowledge sharing among INGOs and CSO around low emission technologies.

  • Facilitate information sharing on funding mechanisms to support civil society initiatives in tackling climate change.


Product details
Date of Publication
June, 2016
Heinrich Böll Stiftung - Afghanistan
Number of Pages
Language of publication
Table of contents
  1. Introduction: defining climate change and its challenges. 3
  • Defining climate change. 3
  • Climate change impacts and human rights. 3
  • Vulnerability to climate change. 3
  • Vulnerability, Gender and Climate Change. 4
  • Climate change, poverty, development and justice. 5
  • Summary. 5
  1. Climate change and vulnerability to climate change in Afghanistan: facts and figures. 6
  • Green-House Gases emissions. 6
  • Exposure to temperature changes (trend) 7
  • Exposure to precipitation changes (trend) 7
  • Exposure to droughts and floods events. 7
  • Social vulnerability to climate change. 9
  • Other factors affecting vulnerability to climate change. 13
  • Main impacts of climate shocks on people’s lives, and coping/survival strategies. 13
  • Summary. 14
  1. Policies, strategies, programs and actors focusing on addressing climate change in Afghanistan. 16
  • Policies and strategies. 16
  • Programs. 16
  • Critics on policies and programs. 16
  • Major constraints to translate policies, strategies and programs into tangible results. 17
  • Way forward proposed by the Government of Afghanistan. 18
  • Conclusion. 19
  1. Recommendations for HBS  21