Following a Successful Tenure, Ambassador Haidari Hands Over SACEP Leadership to Bangladesh
Colombo: - Following three years of effectively and productively leading the inter-governmental South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP)—including the following South Asian member-states: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—the rotating tenure of Afghanistan, represented by Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari, as the Director-General of SACEP ended on August 7, 2021. In a farewell and welcoming reception at the SACEP headquarters, Director-General Haidari welcomed aboard his successor from Bangladesh, Dr. M. Masumur Rahman, and passed on the baton to him, wishing him the best in leading the regional inter-governmental organization forward.
At the event, Director-General Haidari delivered opening remarks and highlighted Afghanistan’s key achievements over the course of its three-year tenure. During this period, he said, that SACEP had seen increased reforms aimed at enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the inter-governmental organization to achieve the ever-important objectives of its vision and mission to help its eight member-states mitigate and adapt to the climate change impact.
To that end, the Director-General highlighted the initiation and implementation by SACEP of the Free Plastic Rivers and Seas for South Asia (PLEASE), made possible by a $50 million grant from the World Bank and Parley for the Oceans, as a one of Afghanistan’s key achievements during its three-year tenure. The Director-General joined the World Bank and Parley teams in making virtual country visits to all member-states of SACEP, discussing the challenge of plastic pollution across South Asia and the ways, in which the PLEASE project would help address plastic waste and its eco-innovative management.
Moreover, he highlighted the acquisition of a prime plot of land from the Government of Sri Lanka for building the new headquarters of SACEP, for which he secured the commitment of President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He thankfully added that the World Bank had agreed to provide a grant for building a state-of-the-art and eco-friendly SACEP headquarters over the next year. This should enable SACEP to hold regional and global climate conferences at the facility, while encouraging students and youths to visit the new building for exposure to SACEP’s work on the protection of environment, biodiversity, and ecosystems across the South Asia region.
The outgoing Director-General also highlighted his yearlong focus on resource mobilization from various climate finance sources to achieve the regional and global goals of SACEP, as well as effective communications strategy to draw increased public attention to SACEP’s work and its ongoing projects and programs.
In this regard, Director-General Haidari discussed his three physical country visits, including Afghanistan and the United States, meeting with the Presidents of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, as well as with the Senior Adviser to the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. In Afghanistan, his productive visit resulted into the establishment of a climate finance unit within the Ministry of Finance, as well as the establishment of youth and women environmental groups with an interest to collaborate with SACEP on issues of shared interest.
In addition, Director-General Haidari pointed out that over the past year, SACEP’s visibility through its daily updated social media pages and website had increased manifold. He said that just in less than one year and despite COVID19 lockdowns, SACEP had conducted more than thirty events, including hosting workshops and speaking engagements by the Director-General in various forums. Thanks to his vigorous public climate diplomacy efforts, mainstream media in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and the rest of the region have also covered SACEP’s work, helping educate the public on the importance of eco-civic duty.
The SACEP personnel bid farewell the outgoing Director-General form Afghanistan and welcomed their new colleague from Bangladesh.