Afghanistan was excluded from COP28 as climate impacts hit home. Concerns have been expressed over the humanitarian impact of Afghanistan’s exclusion from climate discussions at the United Nations for the third year. This comes when the country struggles to cope with the effects of a growing drought and floods.
In Afghanistan, which is one of the nations that are most susceptible to the effects of climate change, dozens of people lost their lives as a result of flash floods that were caused by heavy rains and that raced across areas that had been affected by drought earlier this year.
Since the Taliban took control of Kabul in 2021, the nation has not participated in any United Nations climate meetings, and it will not be present at the COP28 climate summit that is taking place in Dubai.
There has been no formal recognition of the leadership of the Taliban by any foreign country, and the Taliban does not have a seat in the United Nations General Assembly.
There are now isolationist policies in place, and foreign authorities have pointed to the Taliban’s limitations on women as the rationale for these policies. In particular, the Taliban has prohibited girls and women from attending high school and college.
Nevertheless, many have questioned the prolonged isolation of the nation. According to statements made to Reuters by officials from humanitarian organizations and international organizations, attempts were made this year to allow Afghan delegates to participate. These efforts coincided with more extensive discussions between international governments and multilateral institutions over how to tackle the Taliban.
Even though the attempt eventually failed, “there’s hope that maybe next year you might see engagement with Afghanistan in some capacity again,” said Qiyamud Din Ikram, who works for the nonprofit organization Refugees International, while speaking on the sidelines of the COP28 assembly.
REPERCUSSION ON WOMEN
The Conference of the Parties (COP Bureau) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is in charge of accrediting parties to the annual summits, decided to postpone a decision about Afghanistan’s future representation at a meeting that took place in November 2022.
It has been described as “regrettable” by the Taliban government because they were excluded from COP28. “Efforts were made to have the representatives of Afghanistan participate in the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference…but no positive response was received,” said Rouhullah Amin, who is the head of climate adaptation at the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) of Afghanistan, which the Taliban now govern.
According to a senior source inside the United Nations, the United Nations and other international authorities have made efforts in recent months to ensure that officials from the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) and other Afghan delegates are present at the Conference of the Parties (COP28).
When asked for comment on Afghanistan’s absence from COP28, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change did not respond. Women are responsible for bringing water to their families in rural areas of Afghanistan, which is becoming increasingly challenging as the country continues to battle drought.
Many of the twenty million Afghans who are experiencing extreme food insecurity are women. The fact that food aid is decreasing as Afghan governments cut back on funding for humanitarian relief makes the situation worse. Isolationist practices, according to the statements of specific charitable organizations, can be even more detrimental to women.
She stated, “We don’t have the luxury of not engaging with the de facto authorities in Afghanistan.” Payvand Seyedali is the country director for Afghanistan for the nonprofit organization Women for Women International.
Following their understanding of Islamic law, the Taliban assert that they respect the rights inherent in women. Other individuals have expressed the opinion that Afghan women believe it is appropriate to disconnect until the Taliban pulls back restrictions.
“Every time they see the Taliban being welcomed in foreign capitals, it sends a message that their (women’s) rights do not matter to the rest of the world,” said Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch. “This is a message that they are going to continue to receive.”
COLD FINANCES BROUGH
As a result of the Taliban’s seizure of government institutions, Afghanistan is unable to receive essential climate funds from the United Nations, particularly the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The COP Bureau’s decision in 2022, according to Stephanie Speck, a spokesperson for the Global Community Fund, prevented the fund from having a recognized focal point in Afghanistan.
Before the Taliban took control, the Global Climate Fund (GCF) had authorized almost eighteen million dollars for a sustainable energy project in Afghanistan. According to Speck, the project in question has been “put on hold” to examine existing and emerging hazards comprehensively.
In addition, the former Afghan government had been working on other plans that requested more than $750 million. These ideas included initiatives to improve irrigation and to deploy rooftop solar panels in Kabul. Additionally, according to a document from the NEPA that Reuters viewed, these have also been delayed.
RESUME OF THE DIALOGUE
Numerous people have questioned the treatment of the Taliban as an exclusive group. A report on the engagement of the Taliban that the United Nations Security Council commissioned concluded that “the status quo of international engagement is not working” last month.
It was suggested that international collaboration on climate adaptation and response be expanded.
“Conversations with the Taliban on climate change adaptation could potentially be a confidence-building measure,” said Paul Klouman Bekken, Norway’s charge d’affaires for Afghanistan, who often meets Taliban leaders in Kabul when they are in Kabul.
As the chief of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva referred to the current scenario as “unsustainable.”
“It is time to think creatively to ensure that in one year, we are not approaching COP29 with yet another statement on Afghanistan’s absence.”