After successful completion of the Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project (CIWP) as a joint initiative between the Government of Islamic Republic of Iran (led by the Department of Environment), Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 2013, a scale-up phase started by DoE and UNDP to sustain the achievements of CIWP throughout the country, ensuring that its outcomes are systematically up-scaled both vertically and horizontally throughout the country.
Since its start, the project has supported introduction of integrated and participatory ecosystem-based approaches for conservation of around 34 Iranian Wetlands, while raising the capacity of experts in the DoE and other stakeholder organizations. This happens through development and implementation of Wetlands Integrated Management Plans, putting in place a strong wetlands ecosystem management legislative platform and inter-sectoral administrative structures, development of Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness Raising (CEPA) Plans and sharing the CIWP and other wetlands initiatives, knowledge and lessons learnt at the national and international levels.
In 2014, with the financial contribution from the Government of Japan, a new component for “Modelling Local Community Participation in Lake Urmia Restoration” was also added under the current project with a strong focus on capacity building of the local community and authorities as well as NGOs and training as the main tools of development projects with participatory approach. The project is now in its 7th phase and covers 150 villages (95 in West and 55 in East Azerbaijan), with different small projects and activities on various areas to strengthen people’s participation and involvement including alternative and sustainable livelihood, micro-credit funds, and Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES).
Key achievements to date:
- Successfully introduced participatory ecosystem-based approaches for the conservation of Iran’s wetlands now being rolled out in 20 provinces.
- Initial integrated wetland management in three wetlands of international importance has been replicated to 31 new wetlands (totally 34).
- Establishment of online and offline water ecosystem monitoring stations for four wetlands in the country (Choghakhor, Kanibarazan, Solduz and Noroozloo) (www.woms.doe.ir).
- Vulnerability assessment analysis for 24 Ramsar sites (https://vaoiw.ir/en), defining the relationship between exposure of wetlands to a particular risk event, the impact of that event on a wetland, and the ability of the wetland to cope with the impacts or the efforts needed to minimize the impacts.
- New tools and mechanisms including ICT, PES, community-led microcredit fund (Mic-Fund), Local Water management Networks (LWMN), Alternative Livelihood (AL), CEPA planning are introduced as complementary elements to conserve and wise use of wetlands in the country.
- Modelling the local communities' participation in wetlands restoration through sustainable agriculture in 150 pilot villages aiming at saving water consumption and provision of LU water right which resulted in 35% water saving and 40% saving of chemical inputs (chemical pesticides and herbicides).
- Modelling local community participation in Lake Urmia restoration (establishment of Sustainable Agriculture):
- Number of farmers involved: 13,500
- Trained farmers (Resource persons): 4,500
- Trained local experts (Resource persons): 300
- Irrigation water saved at farm level: 35%
- Agriculture chemical inputs (fertilizers and pesticides) reduced: 40%
- Employment: 200 local experts
- Number of local implementing partners (Companies and cooperatives): 34
- Women Engagement and Empowerment:
- Number of NGOs involved: 12
- Number of rural women trained to take role in Lake Urmia restoration: 800
- Establishment of micro-credit funds and alternative livelihood by women groups: 21 villages
- Number of rural women involved in green jobs: More than 700
- Awareness Raising and Social Responsibility Improvement:
- More than 4,700 students and 380 teachers were trained on the role of local communities in Lake Urmia restoration.
- More than 1,000,000 SMS were sent to a database of at least 9,000 farmers’ mobile numbers about the functions of Lake Urmia and local community role in Lake Urmia restoration.
- Increased awareness through 3,000 newspaper, magazine and website articles, 300 television broadcasts, holding several festivals, workshops and other activities.
- Prepared Parliament Act on "Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable use of Wetlands Based on the Ecosystem Approach and National Wetland Conservation Strategy and Action Plan" (NWCSAP).