Time to move from awareness to action as COP28 opens in Dubai

1 Dec 2023

Time to move from awareness to action as COP28 opens in Dubai

As the 28th United Nations conference on climate change (COP28) opened in Dubai, UNAMA calls on all stakeholders to move from awareness to action as climatic shocks and pressures continue to deeply affect the daily lives of millions of Afghans.

Afghanistan remains among the top ten most vulnerable and least ready countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. Nearly 20 million Afghans face emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity, driven by a third consecutive year of drought, economic pressures, and high vulnerability to other natural hazards – including two devastating earthquakes in the last two years. Climate change is further exacerbating negative impacts on health, sanitation, poverty, migration, and displacement, particularly for the most vulnerable.

While the United Nations and partners are assisting Afghans respond and build resilience to changing climatic conditions, current efforts are insufficient. Humanitarian funding continues to decline, and climate finance remains largely suspended. Afghan voices are still absent from global climate fora, and the de facto authorities have yet to create a conducive policy and operational environment under a codified system of governance to support access to global funds.

“This situation is unsustainable,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Roza Otunbayeva. “UNAMA has repeatedly noted that mitigating and adapting to climate change and building climate resilience in the country cannot wait. All stakeholders must engage on this issue in an apolitical and constructive manner for the benefit of the Afghan people.”

UNAMA has raised these challenges in its reporting as well as through engagements with donors, Member States, and the de facto authorities. The impacts of climate shocks have also been brought to the attention of the UN Security Council. However, while awareness of the grave challenges of climate change in Afghanistan is growing, awareness alone will not build the resilience so desperately needed among communities.

“Now is the time to move from awareness to action,” said Otunbayeva. “This will require bold, collective and tangible action, at scale, backed by engagement, financing and governance efforts, including on shared regional climate threats. It is a shared burden which will require resources as well as harnessing the potential of all Afghans.”

UNAMA stresses that Afghanistan cannot go another year without a voice on climate change. It is time to think creatively to ensure that in one year’s time, we are not approaching COP29 with yet another statement on Afghanistan’s absence.