Kabul: - As part of his country visit, Director-General Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on the Honorable Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Mohammed Haneef Atmar this week. He briefed the Foreign Minister on how far the South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP) has come since its establishment in 1981. He said that in accordance with the core objectives of the Colombo Declaration, SACEP had consistently striven to engage with the leadership of its member-states and major multilateral financing institutions to help raise and mobilize the resources needed to mitigate and adapt to the climate change impact.
He also highlighted the importance of enhanced regional cooperation and coordination to help address the common concerns of SACEPs’ member-states with regards to the rapid pace of environmental degradation, threatening South Asia’s rich biodiversity, ecosystems, and marine life. To help reverse this growing ecological disaster, SACEP is best positioned as an inter-governmental organization, through which its member-states could coordinate and gradually integrate their programs of action and policies to protect South Asian environment, as well as effectively contributing to international efforts to arrest the challenge of climate change, in line with the core objectives of the Paris Agreement.
The Honorable Foreign Minister Atmar expressed his full support for the work of SACEP, pointing out that the protection of environment and addressing the global challenge of climate change constitute one of Afghanistan’s key foreign and national security policy goals. He welcomed bilateral efforts across South Asia, as well as the programs and projects of SACEP to help its eight member-states, including Afghanistan, mitigate and adapt to climate change. In this regard, Director-General Haidari discussed the implementation by SACEP of the Free Plastic Rivers and Seas for South Asia (PLEASE) project, which the World Bank and Parley for the Oceans fund to help the South Asia region manage plastic waste management and to prevent its harmful impact on public health.
The Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of reforestation across South Asia, especially in Afghanistan, and the lessons to be learned from international experience to do so, which the Director-General took note of. He also recommended that SACEP bring more coherence and implementation coordination to the member-state strategies and policy framework to protect South Asian environment and to address together the challenge of climate change. Director-General Haidari agreed with the Foreign Minister, and reaffirmed SACEP’s commitment to collaborating with all its eight national focal points to harmonize national environmental policies and programs of action for greater climate action effectiveness.