Carbon Sequestration Project expands to 10 more provinces – agreement signed in Tehran

Sep 3, 2014

 
  Carbon Sequestration Project's achievements prove that degraded lands can be economically and feasibly restored by, and for, local communities

Iran and the international community took another step today towards tackling the problem of desertification.

On 3 September, Mr. Khoda Karam Jalali, Deputy Minister and Head of the Forest, Range and Watershed Management Organization (FRWO), and Mr. Gary Lewis, UNDP Resident Representative signed the Carbon Sequestration Project (CSP) agreement addendum expanding the project activities to a further 10 provinces.

Over the past decade, the project’s main impact has been to re-afforest large swathes of the country either desertified or under threat of desertification.  Through this agreement, the project’s successful work will now extend to cover the following provinces: West Azarbaijan, Fars, Golestan, Ilam, Isfahan, North Khorasan, Khorasan Razavi, Qom, Sistan and Baluchistan andYazd.

At the signing ceremony, Mr. Lewis stated that the evidence shows Iran’s five main environmental threats to be the following:

  1. Water scarcity
  2. Land degradation and desertification
  3. Energy efficiency and Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)
  4. Air and water pollution – including dust and sand storms, and
  5. Biodiversity loss

According to the Government’s own statistics, Iran has been significantly affected by desertification in recent years.  As a result, the Government – and in particular the FRWO – has set the rehabilitation of degraded lands as one of its top environmental priorities. 

In line with this strategy, the Carbon Project uses a collaborative and community-based approach to manage, rehabilitate and sustainably use natural resources. 

Starting in a pilot site near Birjand (South Khorassan) back in 2004, the project has developed an applied participatory model.  Implemented by FRWO the project has received financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP and FRWO has invested substantial national resources. It is significant to note that this is the first project where the Government / FRWO have shared the national resources with UNDP’s resources in a joint budget for the project increasing efficiencies and synergies.

  On 3 September, Mr. Khoda Karam Jalali, Deputy Minister and Head of the Forest, Range and Watershed Management Organization (Right), and Mr. Gary Lewis, UNDP Resident Representative (Left) signed the Carbon Sequestration Project (CSP) agreement addendum expanding the project activities to a further 10 provinces.

The CSP project aims to promote area-based development in order to sustain the eco-system – including carbon reduction.  It also promotes socio-economic development by creating jobs and income generation.  It does this in three main ways:

  1. Improved rangeland management with the help of the local communities;
  2. Ensuring that the process is managed by village development groups; and
  3. Ensuring that the work is funded through micro-credit systems and networks.

The project’s achievements during the first phase prove that degraded lands can be economically and feasibly restored by, and for, local communities. 

Following this success, the FRWO and UNDP agreed to extend their collaboration.  The main objective of the second phase was to apply participatory methods and, through this, empower local people but on a larger scale in the district.  This way they take on the responsibility to protect, restore and sustainably use their natural resources. 

To date, the project’s key achievements and outcomes have included:

  • Developed capacity at local level;
  • Empowered men and women;
  • Increased awareness at national and local levels in terms of participatory natural resources management;
  • Generation of micro-enterprise to strengthen livelihood of local people;
  • Villagers’ broad participation for rehabilitation and economical management of degraded natural resources; and
  • Improved Human Development Index of which considerable and active women’s involvement in decision-making, planning, implementation and monitoring process in the pilot district in South Khorosan province is considered the most significant achievement.
  Over the past decade, CSP's main impact has been to re-afforest large swathes of the country either desertified or under threat of desertification

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. Lewis said:

“We are here today to bring news and some light.  But I must start with some sad news.  The sad news is that our planet is angry with us.  Across the world we are using too many resources and not replacing them.  And here in Iran the same thing is true.  We use our water unsustainably.  We take away the trees and forests from the surface of our land.  We expel too much Carbon into our atmosphere.  And we remove the habitat which our animals need to survive.  This is why the planet is angry with us.”

He added:

“But the good news is that some of us – and I am glad to say an increasing number of us – recognize these problems.  The important point is that we are prepared – together – to place resources at the disposal of solutions to these problems.  Many years ago the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the UNDP determined to reverse one of these trends – desertification.  And the result has been to make our deserts green again and producing green areas which will absorb Carbon.  This truly is an effort that should be repeated within Iran and beyond the borders of Iran.  But, today our focus is to broaden the footprint of this project within the country.”  

Mr. Lewis said that he believed that this project can become sustainable through the active involvement of people and communities on the ground.  In this regard, he said:

“Village development groups and the micro-credit funding approach that is being used in this project is the key to its success.”

Also speaking at this event was Mr. Jalali who started his remarks by stating:

“UNDP’s partnership has been valuable to us.  Together we are working towards building a brighter future.  I strongly believe that the future is not a place in which we will arrive, but that rather it is a place which we build.  Our aim is building a sustainable future for generations to come.”

“This project enables society to overcome the vicious cycle of poverty and environment degradation and to improve the livelihoods of local people through their own participations, while mobilizing their resources towards sustainable natural resources management.  This innovative approach and best practice has been wildly welcome by national authorities” said Mr. Jalali. 

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