Statement of Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representitve in Iran, at the Signing Ceremony of Wetlands Project Addendum on 07 May 2013.
Sharing knowledge on how to combat threats to Iran's wetlands
DoE and UNDP recently launched an electronic database of publications and reports containing a comprehensive set of guidelines, best practices, case studies and project reports from CIWP.
Iran is situated in a low-precipitation belt of the planet. One primary concern must therefore be water. At present, water scarcity, land degradation and climate change are all feeding into each other.
“Every effort must be made to preserve Iran’s dwindling wetlands,” says Mehdi Kamyab, Team Leader of UNDP’s Environment Programme in Tehran. “Our water resources are dwindling as Iran’s major wetlands of significant global biodiversity dry up. The majority of the country's other lakes are also in the process of disappearing before our very eyes”.
UNDP is currently prioritizing its support to the Government in several ways to counter the water crisis. One of these is improving knowledge on how to preserve wetlands.
The latest effort to do so is a culmination of several years’ work where the Iranian Department of Environment (DoE) has partnered with United Nations Development Programme to implement the Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project (CIWP).
Both organizations recently launched an electronic database of publications and reports containing a comprehensive set of guidelines, best practices, case studies and project reports. The publications are in both Farsi and English. “With the help of the Ramsar Regional Center based in Iran, we’ve also established an e-group of regional experts and involved them in accessing these publications,” said Mr. Kamyab. “Access to these publications enables wetland managers, interested individuals and experts from the region to plan for project implementation , as well as carry out their daily management chores”, he added.
This impressive set of documentation – numbering 94 volumes – highlights specialist knowledge addressing wetlands management planning, wetlands monitoring, wetlands zoning and biodiversity conservation as well as public participation. It also focuses on the lessons learned from the implementation of the preceding 10-year-old project. The library is being maintained by CIWP and DoE.
The CIWP was signed in 2004 between the Government of Iran and the UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) to address the crisis facing Iranian wetlands.
Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems on the planet. They provide services of great value to the society and are critical to human livelihood. They provide humanity with food, fresh water, fuel, medicinal extracts and genetic material. Wetlands also regulate climate and flood control, and help the soil to resist erosion. Wetlands are therefore vital to the health of the wildlife and humans everywhere. Many of these ecosystems have been on the wane due to agricultural and population pressures as well as increasing incidences of lower precipitation.
Persistent drought is affecting Iran and has drastically depleted wetland environments within the past decade. Changing rainfall patterns – also believed to be driven by climate change – add to this process, requiring resolute adaptation efforts, including the preservation of wetlands. Where this will matter most is in those communities living near to these aquatic systems.
Through the CIWP project, Iran was among the first countries in West Asia to promote wetlands conservation and management.
The goal of the project is now to implement and scale-up achievements and positive lessons-learned. For this reason the project entered a new phase of CIWP in May 2013. The aim of this phase will be to disseminate wetland management knowledge, initiatives and lessons-learned from the first phase both within the country and across the West and Central Asia region.
In an effort to augment regional exchanges, future plans for the CIWP, possible exchange visits, joint regional workshops and related activities are being considered and planned.