ENVUNDP and the Government of Iran partner to ensure the protection and sustainability of use and exploitation of all biodiversity, renewable natural resources and ecological processes in the Central Zagros region

Technical and functional capacity building is the cornerstone of our approach to development in general and energy and environmental programming in particular. Such capacity-building normally occurs at the three levels of “Individual”, “Organisational” and “Systemic” capacities. Our interventions are pitched at all three levels.

In recognition of the fact that “business as usual” is failing the environment, our programme aspires to be transformational in nature. In finding innovative solutions to addressing the root causes of environmental degradation, we act as a conduit to transfer knowledge and best practices from around the world and help other countries to simultaneously benefit from Iran’s positive experiences. In so doing, our cardinal consideration is to tailor make solutions based on Iran’s specific set of circumstances, constraints and Institutional arrangements. Iran’s development concerns and priorities constitute the reference point around which we formulate our programme and its constituent projects – this approach underlines the paramount importance of national ownership and country drivenness.

It is not always easy to pitch our interventions such that complex and multi-dimensional development and environment issues are addressed in a comprehensive manner. Development is in fact a business rife with uncertainties, risks and diverging interests on the part of myriad stakeholders. It is a difficult balancing act that calls for an adaptive approach based on rigorous but cost effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

As the global development community matures and new approaches are tested and tried on the ground, we too need to mature in tandem. This not only requires success at community-level work but also an in-depth understanding of the political economy of reform, institutional inertia, the dynamics of the policy-making environment and the set of incentive and disincentives it does or does not provide for development to be effective and environment sustainable. It is also important to understand the planning environment and the manner with which policy is finally delivered on the ground through the fiscal space. This underlines the fact that energy and environment is but one piece of puzzle in a development continuum that encompasses growth and macro-economy, the micro-environment as well as the social drivers of change. Sustainable results on the ground will therefore crucially depend on the prudent management of a “package” of results outside of the environmental domain.

A recent entry point for UNDP programming has been the transformation of what used to be a centrally-dominated funding allocation to a province-based planning and allocation system. This new context where the Governor General, and the provincial sectoral agencies enjoy a higher level of authority in determining sectoral allocations, the type of investment, planning, coordination and monitoring heralds the need for decentralized programming. UNDP has rich experience of such approaches as area-based development initiatives and generally a territorial approach to addressing sustainable development, climate change mitigation and adaptation, etc. Under this programming modality, the relative ease of achieving integration of environmental concerns into sectoral planning as well as inter-sectoral coordination at the decentralized levels of province, district and sub-district, compared to the national level will be explored.

Key Programme Priorities: CPAP Outcomes and Strategy

Outcome 4 of Iran’s CPAP (2012-20) pertains to enhanced “national, sub-national and local capacities” to ensure 1) integrated management, conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity; 2. mainstreaming environmental economics into national planning and audits; 3) effective use of knowledge and tools in prevention, control and response to current and emerging environmental pollution; 4) formulation and implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation plans and projects”

This outcome will be achieved through realisation of the following three main outputs:

Output 4.1: Institutional capacities for integration of sustainable development in national policies supported

Output 4.2: Institutional capacities for sound chemicals management under the Montreal Protocol and Stockholm Convention supported

Output 4.3: National capacities for mitigation and adaptation to Climate Change supported


EnvA meeting between UNDP Deputy Representative Mr. Balasubramaniam Murali, UNDP's environmental experts and Iranian officials on the side of a project visit

Over many decades of joint collaboration with our governmental and civil society partners, the following achievements may not be considered an exhaustive list of our contribution to Iran’s environmental sustainability.

UNDP played a prominent role in the mainstreaming of environmental concerns into the 5th five-year National Development Plan, approved in early 2011. The Plan incorporated articles on the integrated Management of Wetlands and in particular the water management issues of Oromieh lake as well as articles on EIA, SEA, and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions- such mainstreaming could be directly and indirectly attributed to UNDP supported programmes over the course of the current and indeed previous programming cycles. Other achievements are as follows:

  • Mainstreaming “Ecosystem approach” in national and sectoral planning associated with successful piloting of this concept within a number of protected areas
  • Success in saving from extinction the iconic “Asiatic Cheetah” as and providing a platform for the upgrading of protected areas in 7 out of a total of 10 cheetah habitats
  • Iran’s contribution to the global efforts to safeguard the ozone layer. Iran is an early achiever of the phase-out milestones set by the Montreal Protocol
  • National Implementation Plans under the Climate Change and Stockholm Conventions have been developed and Iran enabled to fulfill its commitments to these other international treaties
  • Awareness raising on Environmental issues and community-based transformation processes through a number of pilot projects with tangible environmental and economic impacts at the community and watershed levels


The following challenges are systemic in nature and could adversely impact on achievement of environmental and development results on the ground or else sustainability of results over the longer-term:

  • Absence of a cohesive inclusive growth model and identification of excellent opportunities for greening of growth
  • Absence of systematic environmental monitoring at national/sub-national levels would make an educated assessment of Iran's environmental gain/loss a challenge
  • Short-term political cycles and concomitant management turnovers that do not match the longer-term perspective and continuity required for sustainable environmental management and sustainable development
  • Sectoral environment-insensitive approaches to development and ineffective coordination and cooperation mechanisms, in particular at the national level
  • Absence of national and regional land use plans, thus exclusion of environmental capacities and vulnerabilities in development planning;
  • Limited national resource mobilization options and allocation of meager budgets for tackling environmental issues
  • Regional Environmental challenges such as Sand and Dust Storm and transboundary water resources management which requires regional coordination with neighboring counties

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