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Climate Change, Water Resources, and Renewable Energy in Afghanistan

Monday, February 20, 2023 at 12:15pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

Talk by Noor Ahmad Akhundzadah (South Asia Program & Natural Resources and the Environment, Cornell University)

Climate change and insecurity are the main threats to Afghanistan's water resources and socioeconomic sustainability. Afghanistan's contribution to Greenhouse Gases emissions is negligible on a global scale; nonetheless, Afghanistan is adversely affected by climate change. Climate changes deeply affected Afghanistan's natural resources, including water, agriculture, forests, pastures, rangeland, and ecosystems. People's livelihoods depend on water resources and agriculture, which is the basis of the country's economy. Based on the geological structure and hydrological systems, the surface water of Afghanistan is divided into five major river basins, including Kabul, Helmand, Harirud-Murghab, Northern, and Amu-Darya River Basins. Four of these river basins flow into the neighboring countries of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Through the major river basins, Afghanistan has a significant volume of water resources fed by precipitation in the high mountains. The total annual renewable water potential is estimated at 75 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM), of which 57 BCM is surface water and 18 BCM is groundwater. Total hydroelectric capacity is estimated at 23000 Mega Watt (MW). These neighboring countries are struggling to secure enough water to grow their economy. Afghanistan's protracted insecurity and political instability damaged the socioeconomic and environmental infrastructure. In addition, the transboundary water is of great interest to the regional countries, which directly and indirectly often leads to violent conflicts. Furthermore, Afghanistan's renewable energy sources, including hydropower, solar, wind power, and biomass, are abundant, and their potential is much more than the national energy and electricity demands. Therefore, water resources management, renewable energy resources development, and utilization are integral to Afghanistan's socioeconomic development and environmental restoration. This presentation will discuss the role of water and renewable energy resources in Afghanistan's socioeconomic development and environmental restoration. Climate change and the country's protracted insecurity and conflict are potential threats to sustainable development.

​Noor Ahmad Akhundzadah received a bachelor's in geology from Kabul University, a Master's in Agriculture, and a Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology of Japan. Akhundzadah's area of research is groundwater resources investigation, climate change impacts on water resources, climate change mitigation through renewable energy resources, peacebuilding, climate change, and migration. He is an AGU Global Engagement Committee member.



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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, Natural Resources, South Asia Program, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine





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