Parliamentarians from Asia-Pacific seek solutions on environment and development

Aug 24, 2014

  17th General Assembly of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians Conference on Environment and Development inauguration ceremony in Tehran on 23 August 2014. Photo Credit: Mehr News Agency

“Protection of the environment in which the present and future generations should pursue a progressive social life is considered a public duty; therefore, any economic or non-economic activity associated with the pollution of environment or irreparable damage thereof is forbidden.”

These words – enshrined in Article 50 of Iran’s Constitution – were echoed by H.E. Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Islamic Parliament of Iran when he opened the 17th General Assembly of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians Conference on Environment and Development (APPCED).

The conference – currently in its second day here in Tehran – aims to seek connections between ensuring both sustainable development and environmental sustainability, and seeks solutions from parliamentarians to this end. 

Sustainable development – on the global scale – faces grave challenges including excessive population growth, poverty, unsafe migration, uneven development between the north and south – and environmental challenges.

 “Today’s world is faced with tremendous waves of environment degradation.  Time is very short.  Climate change, food crises, water shortages, desertification, and natural disasters have all deepen the gap among the three main pillars of sustainable development, that is, economic growth, social inclusion and environment protections.  Overcoming these problems requires revising the way we view nature.  Otherwise, nature will be slaughtered” stated Mr. Larijani.

  Among the speakers was the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis (left). Photo Credit: Mehr News Agency

Also speaking at the event was the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis. “I would like to add my voice to the growing chorus arguing that climate change is the greatest collective challenge facing humankind – ever.  It is certainly the greatest human security threat facing Iran,” said Mr. Lewis.

He added: “The science is crystal clear.  Human activities are the dominant cause of climate change on our planet.  We cannot blame nature.  Across the world we have to mitigate these impacts and we have to adapt.  And the same thing applies to us here in Iran.  Said simply, Iran will face a hotter – drier – future.” 

Mr. Lewis went on to talk about the five key environmental challenges of Iran which – according to him – are the following:

  1. Water
  2. Deforestation and desertification
  3. Renewable energy
  4. Pollution air and water
  5. Loss of biodiversity

He then emphasized that there are solutions for overcoming every single of these challenges, but in order to solve any problem there is a need to first recognize the issue as a problem.  In this regards he said “To solve any problem we first have to recognize it to be a problem in the first place.  And that recognition is coming at many levels.  But, perhaps most importantly it is coming at the level of leadership in Iran.”

He added: “Leadership has to provide vision and inspiration.  Leadership must produce coordination among all the actors.  Leadership must ensure buy-in from among the stakeholders.  The very fact that this meeting is being held in Iran demonstrated the resolve with which Iran is addressing environmental issues today.”

In his statement Mr. Lewis suggested 7 ways in which parliamentarians could propel change and an improved understanding of how to tackle the impact of climate change.

The APPCED has created a platform for communication, mutual learning and improvement among parliamentarian of Asia-Pacific countries.

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