“We are in great danger. Even just in terms of the water problem we face in this country. I have travelled to the four corners of Iran and seen the anguish and pain in the faces of citizens whose livelihoods are in jeopardy,” said UN Resident Coordinator, Gary Lewis.
“I have been to Lake Urmia which is devastated environmentally. I have seen the salt air blowing around the lake and destroying the agriculture fields around the edges of the lake. I have seen the dried and cracked riverbed of the Zayandeh Rud River [in Isfahan]. I have spoken to farmers in Fars Province around Shiraz whose lands are becoming more salty as a result of overuse of water. I have spoken to engineers in Mashhad who worry about how fast the water table of that city is dropping. And I have spoken to fishermen in the Hamouns who no longer can provide for their families because there is no water and no fish.”
Mr. Lewis was speaking to an audience headed by the Governor-General of North Khorasan province, Mr. Seyed Ali-Akbar Parvizi. The purpose of the meeting was to determine how – with the help of a collection of UNDP projects, the province could avoid the man-made catastrophes which he was describing.
Governor-General of North Khorasan province, Mr. Seyed Ali-Akbar Parvizi
Also assembled were Mr. Khoda Karam Jalali, Deputy Minister and Head of Forest, Range and Watershed Management Organization (FRWO), and Mr. Peiman Sa’adat, Deputy General of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In his opening remarks Mr. Jalali said: “Climate change, shortage of water and desertification are challenges faced by many people in different corners of the world. These environmental challenges have heavily impacted the sustainability and livelihood of people. The story in Iran is no different. The devastating situation of some of our lakes and wetlands, the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems and land degradation alert us that something needs to be done soon and that overcoming environmental challenges needs to be prioritized.”
Mr. Jalali added: “In my opinion when the government together with international organizations and the local community join forces, overcoming these challenges becomes possible. Change cannot happen overnight but with proper planning and management of resources and more importantly the involvement of local community, we can – as we have witnessed in some of our joint projects like the Carbon Sequestration Project (CSP) – see positive results.”
Speaking at the meeting Mr. Peiman Sa’adat reminded the audience: “UNDP’s 2012-2016 Country Programme was prepared in close consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Country Programme is organized around four main areas:
- Inclusive Growth and Development
- Health and Development
- Environment and Sustainable Development
- Disaster Risk Management
Under each area there are multiple projects being implemented in different parts of Iran. In all projects we have been working to empower the people and involve the local community in conserving and preserving the environment.”
The work being initiated in North Khorasan falls under the “Environment and Sustainable Development”category.
“So there are plenty of things that we need to do to avoid further destruction of the environment”’ Mr. Lewis continued. “I am happy to be here in North Khorasan where there have been proactive steps undertaken for many years in various ways to try to avert this type of catastrophe. Four initiatives are being undertaken in this province to address different types of environmental responses – namely:
- The Cabron Sequestration project,
- The Middle East and North Africa Rural Integrated Development project,
- The Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah project
- The Green Banking project.
We are keen to partner with Iran in building capacity, ensuring community engagement and ensuring that the knowledge that Iran possesses can also be shared outside of the country. What we are doing is to not only combine our minds and our resources, but also our hearts in making this work” said Mr. Lewis.“We are in great danger” said Mr. Lewis at a meeting with Government officials held in Bojnord
Mr. Parvizi started his remarks by referring to the attention that President Rouhani and Vice-President and Head of the Department of Environment Madam Ebtekar are giving to Iran’s environmental challenges. The Governor General of North Khorasan then said: “The future of the world – according to predictions – will be hotter and drier as a result of which desertification and water shortage problems can increase. I believe mismanagement of our resources is one factor which has created and expanded these challenges. But I am happy to see that President Rouhani and his government understand this and believe that with proper planning and management – together – we can decrease and overcome these environmental problems.”
He added: “I believe technical efforts without the support and involvement of the local community will not be beneficial. The contribution of people is one of the main reasons for and behind the success of projects like the CSP.”
“I would like to take this opportunity and reassure each and every one of you that I will support – in my capacity – initiatives and projects which will help us overcome these environmental challenges” said Mr. Parvizi.
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