Today, national and international experts gathered at Iran’s Department of Environment (DOE) Headquarters in Tehran to begin a three-day wetlands international roundtable.
Organized jointly by DOE and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the main objectives of the round table are: to review the drivers causing the drying of the two specific wetlands and the actions that have so far been undertaken to address these, to share experience and international best practice approaches for the restoration of drying wetlands and to recommend a series of steps to the Government – taking into account known policy, logistical, institutional and budgetary limitations – which can then be shaped for quick implementation.
In his opening remarks Dr. Ahmad-Ali Keykhah, Deputy of Natural Resources and Biodiversity of the DOE welcomed guests and emphasized on the importance of this roundtable by stating “We have gathered here today because we care about our environment and natural resources, this itself brings hope as it shows that we are all working towards a common goal.” He added “It is expected that by the end of this roundtable – together – by sharing our knowledge, experiences, lessons learned and best practices we can provide some solutions to the Government to save and restore Iran's Lake Uromiyeh and Hamoun wetlands.”
The Acting Resident Representative of UNDP, Dr. B. Murali speaking at the event welcomed participants to the “land of qanats.” Dr. Murali said “UNDP’s Country Programme in Iran which started in 2012 and will go on till 2016 focuses on four major pillars of activity which has been agreed to in partnership with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. One of these four pillars is Environment and Sustainable Development, and in this pillar DOE is UNDP’s leading partner and it is a long and trusted partnership expanding over the decades.”
He continued on “Under the proactive leadership of His Excellency President Rouhani and support of Her Excellency Vice-President Dr. Ebtekar the challenges and critically of water issues has really been brought to the forefront. UNDP strongly acknowledges this leadership and stands ready to assist the Government in every way possible in devising ways and needs to assist and support Iran in finding solutions to overcome these challenges.”
Although not present at the opening ceremony, UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gary Lewis (who was on mission overseas) expressed – through a pre-recorded statement – the United Nations’ view of the importance of the need to manage natural resources sustainably and thus of the critical importance of this roundtable.
“Over the next 3 days we will be looking at 2 particularly important wetlands which pose tremendous water security, environmental security challenges here in Iran […] we recognize the work of the Government in the past ten years or so. We recognize Lake Uromiyeh National Committee’s efforts led by Dr. Jahangiri as well as the efforts of Lake Uromiyeh Commission led by Dr. Kalantari. That’s work that is already ongoing. The work that we will be doing as part of this roundtable is reviewing and adjusting the recommendations that are already in place” said Mr. Lewis in his recorded message.
“We are hoping with your contribution and with your extensive expertise to have generic recommendations for the government.”
Also speaking at the opening-ceremony was Dr. Mike Moser, Senior International Advisor for Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project. “You have all seen the objectives for the roundtable and I would like to focus you on the third objective which is to recommend a series of steps to the Government of Iran. That is what we are aiming for by the end of the third day. I am pleased to be among you all and look forward to working with each and every one of you to achieve the goals of this technical wetlands roundtable” he said.
Following his remarks two presentations were made on Lake Uromiyeh and Hamoun wetlands and the technical discussions began.