Within the framework of the project “Civil Society Engagement in Regional Green Dialogs. Promoting Peace and Stability through Equitable Natural Resource Management”, the offices of Heinrich Böll Stiftung in Pakistan and Afghanistan successfully conducted a Vision Workshop on 26-29 February at PC Bhurban for a seed group of the Regional Green Dialog Network. The workshop aimed at increasing mutual understanding and developing a joint vision and a plan for future action. Intellectuals, experts and activists from both countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan) participated in the event and reflected on how to promote peace and stability in the region through equitable natural resource management, especially looking into water and energy. After long discussions and exchanges on different topics, they developed following Vision:
The equitable and fair management of natural resources leads to a peaceful, stable and prosperous region, where the rights of people as well as nature are respected and protected. Both societies and governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan understand that natural environmental systems are holistic entities, which can only be governed systematically through collaborative strategies and mechanisms. The Regional Green Dialog is a path finding initiative for engagement with various stakeholders and opens a window for peace
In order to define the working areas of the network, a Mission statement was drafted:
Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Green Dialog is a network for the equitable and sustainable use of natural resources focusing on water and energy. We are like-minded individuals, organizations and institutions from both countries. Our aim is to create shared knowledge, awareness and capacity to support peace and sustainable development in the region addressing decision makers, academics and society in both countries.
Since the creation of shared knowledge lies at the heart of the Regional Green Dialog’s mission, the importance of research was underlined. It became clear that joint researches, where experts from Afghanistan and Pakistan would work together, would be most beneficial for mutual trust building. For example comparative studies on existing laws, policies and strategies in both countries, as well as International frameworks regarding water and energy would be a necessary first step for future action. Also best practices for water and energy cooperation from other regions should be taken into account As a next step, the participants discussed how the outputs of various researches could be utilized for advocacy and provision of inputs to policy makers in both countries could lead to peaceful utilization of water and energy. The group agreed that an important point were workshops and seminars, where fact based discussions about water and energy should take place. It was agreed that the Regional Green Dialogs has to organize regular network meetings with the help of hbs in order to develop the strategies further. This first vision workshop of the Regional Green Dialogs proved to be a successful initiative for further defining the network structures, the vision and mission and therefore the role of its members. The Heinrich Böll Stifftung’s offices in Pakistan and Afghanistan are looking forward to an enhanced interest in the topic of the Regional Green Dialog and the future expansion of the Network.