Afghanistan’s first-ever Environmental Short Films Contest held for World Environment Day

Kabul, Sunday, 05 June 2016 —  Filmmakers, actors and writers from across Afghanistan today received awards in the country’s first-ever Environmental Short Films Contest, organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the National Environmental Protection Agency and Saba TV.

Over the past four months, videographers submitted more than 50 films exploring climate change, land degradation, biodiversity and the impact of harmful chemicals in Afghanistan.

Prizes were awarded for best animation, drama, script, actor and director, with winners chosen by a panel of independent jurors, including filmmakers and civil society activists, at a ceremony held in Babur Gardens. An additional Voters Choice prize was given to the film that received the most votes through text messaging from the public.

Audiences at the World Environment Day 2016. Photo: UNDP / Sayed Omer / 2016

Afghanistan was ranked second in a list of countries most affected by extreme weather events in 2016’s Global Climate Risk Index. Only 12% land is available for farming and forest cover has been reduced to less than 3%. This has devastating implications for the 85% of Afghans who rely on natural resources to make a living.

“Afghanistan is highly vulnerable to climate change, which affects the livelihoods of the Afghan people.” said Douglas Keh, Country Director for UNDP. “Limited access to farming land and water is already a chief cause of local conflict; natural disasters increasingly threaten people’s lives and prosperity.”

“Environmental protection requires awareness and buy-in from everyone affected – which means everyone in Afghanistan,” said Robert Few, Chief of Communications for UNDP Afghanistan. “These films have already reached more than 4 million people on Saba TV and social media. We hope they inspire further action to protect Afghanistan’s natural beauty and resources.”

Prize winners included:

    Best animation: “PH”, by Hasam Perqadam, which focuses on the devastating impact of deforestation.
    Best drama: “Silent scream”, by Fatima Hussaini, which explores how everyone has a personal responsibility for their environment.
    Best script: “Bonesetter”, by Lal Mohammad Alizada, which highlights the importance of trees. 
    Best actor: Farzana for her role in “Young Citizen”, which explores how the way we treat the environment affects the moral development of children.
    Best director: Ahmed Wahed Omidi, for his film “The Hunter”, which focuses the effects of climate change and drought.  

Note to editors

Funding for this initiative came from the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme and Saba TV. The awards ceremony will be broadcast on 6th June on Saba TV from 9pm onwards.

In partnership with the government, the international community and the people of Afghanistan, UNDP works to empower Afghan men and women to improve their lives and to help the country become more resilient. Our programmes operate in every province and cover rule of law, governance, environment, livelihoods, gender and health.

On environment, UNDP’s projects include helping people adapt and find jobs in the face of climate change, bringing clean power to rural areas, preparing for natural disasters, establishing and protecting national park, and conserving biodiversity for future generations.

The Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme, implemented by UNDP, has also provided funding for 46 projects in Afghanistan on biodiversity, climate change, land degradation and sustainable forest management. These have benefitted nearly 50,000 households.