Inspiration & Action [co-winner]

Prince Mostapha Zaher

Afghanistan’s 46-year-old Director General of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), Prince Mostapha Zaher has laid the foundation for a sustainable and peaceful future in Afghanistan. For the past five years, he has worked tirelessly for the environment in a country ravaged by 25 years of war and continues to find ways to bring clean, efficient and cost-effective solutions to the citizens of one of the world’s poorest nations.

In 2004, after the fall of the Taliban, Zaher and his family returned to his homeland where he gave up his post as Ambassador to Italy to take up the job as Director General of the newly formed NEPA. The opportunity revived Zaher’s lifelong dream of turning the royal hunting grounds into a nature reserve open to all Afghans.

Since taking the post, he has rewritten the nation’s environmental laws, including an act in the Constitution declaring it the responsibility of every Afghan citizen to “protect the environment, conserve the environment, and to hand it over to the next generation in the most pristine condition possible”.

In 2008, he attended the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC), where he pledged to improve air quality in Kabul between 10-12 per cent by the year 2012. His commitments work in tandem with Afghanistan’s Environment Act of 2006. At the same time, NEPA announced it would allocate at least 3 per cent of its core budget to environmental research and development.

In partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Water and the international community, NEPA hopes to apply cutting edge solar and wind technology to address environmental concerns in Afghanistan.

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