“What we call ‘water’ in English is pronounced ‘aab’ in Farsi, consisting of the first two letters of alphabet in both Farsi and English. Every living creature is dependent on water and that is why we acknowledge water as the alphabet of life,” said Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator at an expert meeting held at Ministry of Energy, in Tehran, on 20 November.
The event – intended to promote the message that transboundary water management should be seen as an area for cooperation – not competition – was organized by UNESCO Tehran and the Bureau of Trans-boundary Waters at the Ministry of Energy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It brought together senior decision-makers from across Iran’s water sector and was part of the commemoration of 2013 as the UN International Year of Water Cooperation 2013.
The guiding principle of the event was UNESCO- International Hydrological Programme (IHP) on trans-boundary waters called “From Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential.”
In addressing the event Mr. Meydani, Deputy Minister of Energy for Water and Wastewater Affairs, emphasized on the need to enhance Iran’s capacity to manage its trans-boundary water resource.
Mr. Sattar-Mahmoudi, Vice-Minister of Energy of the I.R of Iran first thanked UNESCO and Bureau of Trans-boundary Waters of Ministry of Energy for taking the initiative to organize this event. He underlined the role that the UN system can play in linking Iran with the international community. Mr. Mahmoudi mentioned that UNESCO and the UN can make Iran prepared to understand the common language used among the International community and to assist all players in applying the same language.
Mr. Mahmoudi said that Iran is almost done with building the needed infrastructure for the control of its water resources. However, the softer part (management and maintenance) need to now be prioritized.
Mr. Hiranand Purkait, Head of UNESCO Office in Tehran, added that there is a need to raise awareness both on the potential for increased cooperation. He also drew attention to the challenge facing water management in light of increase in demand for water access. At the meeting, he read out the message of UNESCO Director-General, Ms. Irina Bokova’s of the occasion of international year of water cooperation which is guided by the slogan “Water, water everywhere, only if we share.”
Mr. Lewis shared with audience his perspective and stated “The future we shape for subsequent generations is very much in our hands. As I have said, depending on how we look at it, we could treat the issue of shared or trans-boundary water resources management as either an opportunity or a threat.” He added “Let us choose to treat it as an opportunity to address regional water management.”
The audience – which consisted of Managing Directors of provincial water authorizes as well as academia and experts from Ministry of Foreign Affairs – were then presented with the situation of trans-boundary waters of Iran by Mr. Vatanfada and principles of trans-boundary water cooperation by Ms. Niloofar Sadeghi of UNESCO Tehran.
The opening was followed by an overview of international trans-boundary water conventions, related to both surface water as well as ground-water. The meeting concluded with questions from the audience.