The closing ceremony of Wetlands International Roundtable – an event jointly organized by Iran’s Department of Environment and UNDP – took place on Tuesday 18 March, here in Tehran.
At this ceremony, UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gary Lewis shared with Vice-President and Head of Department of Environment, Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar as well as the national and international experts his reflections.
“We have achieved much and this achievement has come at a particularly important time of the year for all Iranians – both here and abroad – and that time is Nowruz, the celebration of joy and happiness in the family. But, in Iran, there is another dimension too – and that is the reconnection of the human being, and human spirit, with nature.”
Mr. Lewis emphasized that water is the biggest resource constraint in Iran as well as the greatest long-term risk. “Iran will become hotter and drier in the future. Its water resources, biodiversity and forests will come under greater pressure.”
He went on to add that a group of eminent environmental experts had gathered in Tehran to work towards a common goal and took the opportunity to go over the objectives of the roundtable:
- 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
- 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.
Dr. Mike Moser, Senior International Advisor for Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project, and also an expert who was heavily involved in coming up with proposed solutions for the wetland problems, shared a number of generic recommendations which the national and international consultants agreed on for saving Lake Uromiyeh and Hamoun wetlands. These he said could be extended to help avoid more Iranian wetlands from drying in the future.
He concluded his presentation by stating “The Government of Iran played an instrumental role in creation of Ramsar Convention and in supporting it. You are a global champion. Now I think there is another chance to become a leader in this issue of drying wetlands and I hope the work that we have done in this roundtable will help you achieve that.”
In her concluding remarks, Dr. Ebtekar said “Environmental issues are global issues. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the international consultants for joining us and sharing with us their experiences during this roundtable.” She added: “We need to address these challenges learning from each other’s experiences, applying those experiences and technical expertise to resolve these issues because we realize that these are our common destiny that we all face as human beings living on planet Earth. This is the basic concept behind this roundtable. This international approach is of utmost importance for us and we hope to proceed on this line.”
The national and international experts are planning to finalize their proposals within the next couple of weeks and hand in their recommendations to the Government of Iran in hopes of quick implementation to help save Lake Uromiyeh and Hamoun Wetlands.