Iran, Japan and the UN combine forces to preserve Lake UrmiaMar 18, 2015
Building on a first phase which piloted successful water-saving measures to restore Lake Urmia, the Governments of Iran, Japan and the United Nations today signed into effect a project extension which will add another US$ 1 million to the combined effort.
Speaking at the ceremony, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis said: “We must preserve Lake Urmia. It took a long time for it to come down to what it is now – and it will take a long time to restore it. But we must aim to preserve this iconic lake. And in this great heroic quest, all hands are welcome.”
Echoing these thoughts, Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Koji Haneda, added: “The restoration of the lake will not be realized overnight, but we strongly hope that our contribution will contribute to the restoration of the lake and benefit the people living near the lake for the betterment of their life.”
The Japanese government has already generously contributed US$ 1 million to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Iran for Lake Urmia. This contribution will continue to support efforts to restore Lake Urmia – situated in northwest of the country which has seen a decline of 90 per cent of its water in recent years.
Last year in March, the Government of Japan provided the first grant to UNDP. The contribution was implemented as a component of UNDP's ongoing Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project – a project in which UNDP is partnering with Iran's Department of Environment.
The new extension will promote sustainable agriculture and reduce water consumption in the farming communities adjacent to the saltwater lake by engaging local community and farmers to use a technique called Integrated Participatory Crop Management (IPCM).
his technique will result in a water-saving of at least 35% which, in turn, will allow the “saved” water to return to the lake, thus replenishing it. At the same time, the project will emphasize a reduction in use of fertilizer chemicals which will also ensure more environmental sustainability.
“I would like to take this opportunity to say how pleased we are that the government of Japan has chosen to partner in this important effort. In doing this, our friends from Japan have demonstrated not only their friendship to Iran but their support to the environment” said Mr. Lewis.
Vice-President and Head of Department of Environment , Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar, also spoke at the signing ceremony. She referred to the continuous efforts of President Rouhani’s administration to overcome environmental challenges.
In this regard, she said: “In the past year, we worked hard to find solutions in restoring Lake Urmia. The government is dedicated and despite the obstacles, we will stay committed and work with the local community to overcome this challenge.”
Madam Ebtekar thanked the Government of Japan for their generous contribution and stated that “Lake Urmia is a global lake which belongs to the people of the world and with this in mind the support of the international community plays a significant role in the restoration of the lake.”
The first phase of the project was initiated in 41 villages around the basin of the lake. The second, scaled-up phase of the project will expand the area covered with these techniques to cover an additional 34 villages.