Monday, October 20, 2014

Sustainable tourism in Iran


We hosted an international symposium on ways to integrate sustainable tourism in national planning policy.Tourism, when it complys with environmental standards becomes a green industry where tourists both enjoy nature beauties but also help to protect its resources. Across nations tourism promotes dialogue and understanding, and appreciation of diversity both diversity of cultures and nature. In a sense in a region torn by violence and extremism tourism gives a message of peace and stability.

Iran has many touristc attractions, 7000 years of history and art manifested in cities throughout the country, exceptional biodiversity including mountains, forests deserts, wetlands ,sea and rangeland are all unique attractions of Iran. In addition, religious pilgrimages and health tourism are also areas where  attractions exist.
We now have new programs underway to promote ecotourism and ensure the benefits for local communities.The international gathering was an indication of the importance attached to 
sustainable tourism in all forms.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Art for Environmental Education, Masterpieces of Farshchian

Art is the most powerful means to convey educational and inspirational messages. Mahmoud Farshchian is one of the most reknown painters of our time. His works in Iranian miniature  are very well appreciated by not only Iranians but millions worldwide. Farshchian depicts the beauty of nature in a very esthetic manner. His works have strong and persuasive messages of nature protection in many cases. These works not only educate about nature but also inspire and motivate people to protect nature.
Creativity and spiritual upliftment are also messages that people recieve .We convened a ceremony to address the important issue of education for the environment in the masterpieces of Farshchian we had a great ceremony many officials came. Farshchians unique artistic creations are an asset for Iranian contemporary art.
One of his beautiful works entitled the Fifth Day of Creation, alluding to the Torah and the creation of birds and fish. This works also demonstrates with unprecedented beauty the concept of biodiversity of species and the need to protect that diversity. In that ceremony last week , Rangers then presented Master Farshchian with a bouquet of flowers and a plaque of appreciation, Farshchian asked the nation to take serious measures to protect pur precious natural resources.

Friday, September 26, 2014

President Rouhani and New Era of Environmental Diplomacy

The world is now, much earlier than initial predictions, experiencing the damages incurred by global warming. Storms, floods ,drought , increase of temperature and much more; all described as "extreme weather events" are now being reported in many parts of the world. Island countries and coastal zones have been affected by rising sea levels.We are experiencing drought in Iran marked by shortage of rainfall and snow, increase in temperature ranging between .5-1.5 degrees celsius, thus leading to  more evaporation and loss of vegetation, biodiversity, wetlands and many other damages to our agriculture and economy. The drying up of Lake Urumia is one evident example of this trend which has been exacerbated by over use of aquifier reserves, dams and inefficient irrigation methods in that area.
Energy efficiency in Iran is also low and this has led to air pollution as well as economic loss.
However, Iran has been an active partner of the decades long international processes to combat climate change. I took part not only in the Kyoto Protocol deliberations in 1997 but also in most related events during my first term as the Vice President of Iran( Government of President Khatami). Our role as head of the Group of 77 during those years, in bringing about a consensus with the EU was applauded by the international community as a victory for multilateralism in 2002.
Now, again we are playing our proactive role in the ongoing negotiations for the "new deal", which I believe must be fair and just, if it is to be implemented and followed by all nations.  Iran has now undertaken serious measures for energy efficiency and thus mitigation of greenhouse gases. We are also taking action on different levels to build a resilient economy and to protect our nature in face of these challenges.
 The active presence of Dr. Rouhani in the Climate Change Summit this year in New York and his inspiring speech on this matter marks a new era of environmental diplomacy for the Islamic Republic of Iran . I invite you to read the speech below.


Full text of the president's speech delivered on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly session follows:


In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


Mr. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, 


Excellencies, 


Distinguished delegates, 


Ladies and Gentlemen, 


At the outset, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Your Excellency, Secretary General of the United Nations for this timely initiative. This Summit provides a unique opportunity for addressing climate change as one of the most significant challenges of the 21st century. 


The rise in the temperature and its negative impact on rain precipitation in the Middle East, the chronic drought and water scarcity has led to an increase in poverty and the occurrence of instability and tensions in the border areas. Unfortunately, the continuation of political disputes and war in the neighboring countries has become an obstacle in achieving a durable and practical agreement on the resolution of regional environmental problems.


Addressing such issues requires regional cooperation in the form of multilateral conventions, for which Iran is ready to engage constructively.


Historical experience has shown that introduction and utilization of economic mechanisms are the most effective source of inspiration for humanitarian activities across the globe. This helps to develop international mechanisms for containing Carbon Dioxide and emission of other green-house gases. A ‘system of warning and advice’ cannot by itself be considered as an effective factor in addressing such problem. A comprehensive agreement based on economic mechanisms; one which would take into account the developmental requirements of each and every country, is required more than ever. 


During the past year, focusing on low-carbon economy was high on the development agenda of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Accordingly, we have introduced and are implementing the following binding national targets: 


• Decreasing energy intensity, 


• Reducing energy subsidies, 


• Limiting major atmospheric pollutants, 


• Promoting energy efficiency, 


• improving the quality of fuels, despite imposed economic sanctions,


• Increasing the share of renewable, modern and alternative sources of energy 


• as well as utilizing and disseminating other environmentally sound technologies.


Mr. President, 


if we truly believe global warming is a global problem, we should then accept that addressing it also requires genuine global cooperation. Any step, under any pretext, that may impede such international cooperation cannot but be considered detrimental to the international community as a whole. 


Nowadays it has become difficult for some countries to gain access to the experience and knowhow of other countries in the fields of combating drought and water scarcity as well as environmental crises, especially urban pollution. Endangering the environment and health of an entire population by imposing illegal economic sanctions against them is never justified, if we were to view it from a humanitarian and health-based perspective. 


The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to engage actively and constructively in the negotiation processes for the development of a new post 2020 agreement. 


The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes the opportunity to promote cooperation with relevant public and private sectors at the national, regional and international levels, in order to strengthen its national measures in combating climate change, and is determined to facilitate such partnership and cooperation through, inter-alia, establishing joint ventures between Iranian and foreign companies.


I wish that with all efforts put in by the UN and the effective participation of all states, this Summit becomes a turning point in taking common but differentiated measures to save this green planet. 


Thank you, Mr. President




Monday, September 1, 2014

National Asiatic Cheetah Day


To mark the occasion of National Asiatic Cheetah Day the Department of Environment and UNDP jointly organized a ceremony to celebrate outstanding Iranian Game Guards and activists from the Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project

 

Day and night, our planet and its beautiful natural resources are guarded by individuals who give new meaning to the words sacrifice, courage and compassion.  Game Guards are the dedicated watchers of the environment and the primary guardians of our Iranian biodiversity.


To mark the occasion of National Asiatic Cheetah Day the Department of Environment and the UNDP jointly organized a ceremony to celebrate outstanding Iranian Game Guards and activists from the Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project.  The objective was to recognize the remarkable contribution of these individuals in safeguarding our environment.


In Tehran government officials along with representatives from the diplomatic community, NGOs, Academia, members of the private sector, media and UN representatives came together to applaud the dedication of these men and women whose mission in life is defined by their sense of duty to our shared global heritage – the environment.

 

31Aug2014-Irans Game Guards are heroes says UN head in Iran 2Vice-President and Head of Department of Environment, H.E. Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar.

In his remarks the UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP ResidentRepresentative, Mr. Gary Lewis said:“Today, we know of the Mazandaran Tiger and the Persian Lion only from the windswept statues or faded photographs that bear their images. All have been killed or forced into extinction.  They are gone forever.  But it is not too late to save the Asiatic Cheetah.
 
 
 
”He added: “We believe that the decline in the number of these beautiful – emblematic animals may have stopped.  Now their numbers may be on the increase once again.  The main reason for this recovery – for the possible turnaround in numbers – is simple.  It is because there are few people – a very few people – in our society, who strive – day in and day out – to keep the Asiatic Cheetah from harm.”
 
 
“Some – like our academic partners – do this through the written word.  Some – like our friends in the NGO community – do it through the spoken word.  Some – like our corporate sponsors – give us the resources to host awareness-raising events like the one we are having here this morning.  And we thank you – and we recognize you all” said Mr. Lewis.
 

31Aug2014-Irans Game Guards are heroes says UN head in Iran 4Mr. Gary Lewis (Left) along with Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar presented awards to the Game Guards, NGOs, Academia and corporate sponsors of the ceremony

 

He then highlighted the remarkable contribution of the Game Guards by stating: “Many – like Iran’s Game Guards – our Mohit Bans – do it through their actions.  Actions which often place these doer-of-deeds in great personal peril.  Peril of being shot at by poachers.  This is no idle threat.  Some Game Guards have been shot at – and wounded – in the line of duty […] Ladies and Gentlemen, Iran’s Game Guards are heroes. They are local heroes.  And they are global heroes.  Through their actions which directly save our biodiversity, these heroes are paving the way for a future which is sustainable.  Through their actions we have come to recognize that all species deserve to co-exist and share our beautiful, endangered, planet.”

 

Also speaking at the event was Vice-President and Head of Department of Environment, H.E. Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar.  “Environmental issues and the protection of species at a local level is considered as a global issue today.  That is an important achievement for humanity – the fact that we realize today that our actions at a local level have global implications.  Therefore, our responsibilities extend beyond our geographical boarders. We have global responsibilities.”

 

She then emphasized on the protection of the Asiatic Cheetah as also being a global issue.  She added: “To reverse the destiny of the Asiatic Cheetah, we need a careful and efficient plan which includes the involvement of the local communities as well as the efforts of the highest national and international level officials and organizations.”

 

31Aug2014-Irans Game Guards are heroes says UN head in Iran 1Game Guards are the dedicated watchers of the environment and the primary guardians of our Iranian biodiversity.

 

 

“Today, I stand next to you, delighted and honoured to represent and acknowledge the efforts of our Game Guards from all parts of Iran.  We owe a great share of our success in preserving our environment to the dedication of Game Guards who serve in the remote areas.  They believe that protecting the environment and its species guarantees nature sustainability for the future and that is why they have devoted their life to this high-risk path.  It is the duty of each and every citizen to join the Game Guards and others who follow their path to conserve the environment and its biodiversity for today and the future.”


She was then joined by Mr. Lewis on stage to present awards to the Game Guards, NGOs, Academia and sponsors of the ceremony – Eghtesad Novin Bank, Bidar Trading Company and Vijeh School of Visual Communication.   

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Letter to Ban Ki Moon on the Environmental Disaster in Gaza


Considering news of the grave enivronmental cirumstances in Gaza, I called upon the UN system to take serious action to address the matter .The following is the text of my letter to the UNSG.

HE Mr.Ban Ki Moon

Secretary General United Nations


HE Achim Steiner UNEP Executive Director. ( cc)

Ministers of Environment (cc) 

 

Dear Sir,

The ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis and genocide against the people of Gaza has created very grave circumstances for the Palestinian people.  Recalling the mandate of the UN to safeguard peace and security for all humanity and the continued blockade and sanctions against the Gaza strip which has made all humanitarian assistance possible only through certain UN and similar bodies it is necessary to stress that the responsibility of the United Nations in face of this tragedy is immense.

Now as we enter the fifth week of the calamity, in addition to the humanitarian tragedy, we are obtaining news of an imminent environmental catastrophe. The breakdown of basic sanitary services in Gaza, the unavailability of potable water and problems in water sanitization systems, the breakdown of the sewage and purification plants and the scattering and piling of urban waste have all amounted to an environmental crisis in Gaza.  It is deemed necessary that UNEP calls for urgent action of UN bodies and member states to address the state of environmental emergency  in Gaza. The lifting of the inhumane blockade is evidently an imperative to prevent further humanitarian tragedy.

In addition to the readiness of my Government to assist in this regard, I would like to propose the urgent convening of a session the region to address and take urgent measures to address this matter. Tehran is prepared to host and provide support in this regard.

We also propose that UNEP convene a adhoc session on the sidelines of the Climate session to address theissue of emergency environmental relief for Gaza.

  

Excellency please accept my highest considerations .

 

Massoumeh Ebtekar

Vice President , Head Department of Environment

Islamic Republic of Iran

UNEP Champion of the Earth


Friday, August 1, 2014

Inefficiency of International Mechanisms

For those of us who believe in the equal creation of all humans, for all those who believe in justice for all, for all those who believe in multilateralism, the current situation in many areas of the world is intolerable and unjustifiable. A serious mismanagement of world affairs by major powers who wield the financial, military and media strongholds has been underway now for several decades. The UN system is weak and incompetent in face of those forces, it has not been able to establish peace among nations or peace with the world's precious ecosystems,both existential threats to life on earth. 
Dr. Mosaffa has done an excellent article on the role of multilateral mechanisms in dealing with crises such as that in the Middle East today. I would like to share her academic view points here. Hope you enjoy.



Iran Review.Org

Gaza Crisis Mirrors Inefficiency of International Law
Sunday, July 27, 2014

http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Gaza-Crisis-Mirrors-Inefficiency-of-International-Law.htm

Nasrin Mosaffa
Professor of Tehran University & UN Expert

International human rights movement came into being with the formulation
of the Charter of the United Nations and through frequent references to
the horrendous nature of crimes committed against ordinary people during
the World War II. By and by, this movement made efforts to bolster its
legitimacy by issuing statements and approving binding documents in order
to formulate norms, pass regulations, and establish new organs and
institutions both inside and outside the United Nations. However, in
addition to concerns and questions that have consistently existed about
political, social, cultural and economic capabilities of this huge body of
laws, whose activities are aimed at protecting human beings, it is
currently facing major challenges for the realization of its goals,
especially under emergency circumstances and conditions of hostile
conflicts.

Despite all efforts that have been made so far, global mechanisms have not
been actually able to deal effectively with blatant cases in which human
rights and humanitarian law, which are totally intermingled in view of the
realities of the contemporary world, have been violated. Apart from all
clear cases that have taken place during the past decades, a striking
instance of the violation of human rights is the current situation and
acute conditions of people in the Gaza Strip, which are, of course, not
limited to the ongoing crisis. Recent remarks by Navi Pillay, the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressed to a Special Session
of the UN Human Rights Council on July 23, 2014, was good evidence to
inability of international mechanisms in dealing with such crises. Pillay
clearly noted that she and her predecessors only relied on facts, laws,
and common sense judgments, adding that they had done this so far and will
continue to do the same in the future, though they have frequently come
under fire for such efforts. The High Commissioner also noted that Gazan
children and women accounted for the main part of the Israeli attack’s
victims, adding that “All the dead and maimed civilians should weigh
heavily on all consciences, as all efforts to protect them had been abject
failures.” She also urged “more powerful entities, such as the Security
Council, and individual States with serious leverage over the parties to
this dreadful and interminable conflict,” to “do far more than they had
done so far to bring the conflict to an end once and for all.”

The remarks by Navi Pillay, as the highest ranking US human rights
official, in addition to what UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said in the same
meeting when explaining the human catastrophe and the rising civilian
casualties in the ongoing Gaza crisis, will be hard to tolerate for any
conscientious person. Over 1000 Palestinians, including more than 200
children and many women have been so far killed in Gaza and the death toll
keeps rising with every hour passing.

Hundreds of Palestinians homes have been destroyed by the invading Israeli
military and more than 140,000 Palestinians have been seeking refuge in
other places. Schools, hospitals, and various installations, including
facilities and buildings run by the United Nations have been razed to the
ground. On average, one Palestinian child loses his/her life every hour.
Disabled women are torn to pieces on their wheelchairs. Killer Israeli
drones continue to bomb various parts of the General Assembly. All these
catastrophic events are taking place on top of a crippling siege on the
coastal enclave, which has already blocked Gaza people’s access to such
essential and primary needs as potable water, foodstuff, fuel, electricity
and first aid. As admitted by Pillay, Israel has even ignored and violated
international obligations and responsibilities of an occupying force. Long
occupation of Palestinian lands, which has brought them nothing but
insecurity, and ignoring the right of the Palestinian people to survive
and determine their own destiny, among other rights, are major breaches of
international obligations by Israel.

Such remarks by international authorities all attest to blatant violations
of human rights and the norms of international humanitarian law,
especially with regard to such principles as proportion between a threat
and the response given to it, the need to differentiate between the
military and civilian population, and the need to exercise cautious in
case of any military undertaking. In fact, the ongoing crisis in Gaza is a
clear manifestation of the inefficiency of international law, especially
international humanitarian law. Of course, this may be a very pessimistic
conclusion. A large part of the pressure that has been currently put on
Israel is a result of the crimes perpetrated by the Tel Aviv regime and
blatant violation of customary rules of international law. This is why
even the staunchest supporters of Israel have been forced to avoid
defending Israel’s onslaught on the Gaza Strip and highlight Tel Aviv’s
violations of primary principles of international law and human rights.

After the establishment of Israel and political crises that followed it,
the UN has frequently repeated the measures that it usually takes in such
cases: holding international conferences and meetings, dispatching
peacekeeping forces, establishing UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), sending special envoys, organizing
fact-finding groups, choosing special rapporteurs, adopting resolutions
and so forth. However, all these measures lack the necessary political
will and guarantees that are embedded in the Security Council’s decisions
and this is why Pillay has urged the member states of the Security Council
to “do far more than they had done so far to bring the conflict to an end
once and for all.”

Perhaps, she thinks that the unprecedented candor in her latest remarks,
now that her tenure is coming to an end, may reduce the heavy burden that
weighs on her conscience and of which she has talked at the end of her
speech. The former UN human rights commissioner, Mary Robinson, lost her
second term in office after she prepared a report on Israel’s crimes at
Jenin refugee camp, which evoked harsh opposition of the United States.
Unlike her, Mrs. Pillay has plucked up her courage in the later months of
her second term, which is her last term in office, and has now decided to
deal with the situation in Palestine on the basis of her professional
requirements in accordance with Paragraph (a), Article 2 of the UN General
Assembly Resolution 141 (adopted on December 20, 1993). According to that
article, “…the High Commissioner for Human Rights shall be a person of
high moral standing and personal integrity and shall possess expertise,
including in the field of human rights, and the general knowledge and
understanding of diverse cultures necessary for impartial, objective,
non-selective and effective performance of the duties of the High
Commissioner.”

Now, we must wait and see how her Jordanian successor, who should be
practically familiar with the problems and suffering of Palestinians,
would remain committed to the aforesaid professional requirements and
human obligations. The consequence of the UN decision to establish Israel
is war crimes that have been committed frequently by this regime. Although
it is the bodies of Palestinian people that are washed in their blood,
those crimes have also greatly weighed down on the conscience and human
spirit of the world and have dealt drastic blows to international human
rights movement, which had promised to protect human dignity of all
people.

Perhaps, UN officials believe that expression of sympathy and mere
condemnation will make up for the aforesaid blows to human rights
movement. However, the undeniable reality of the modern world beyond all
expressions of sympathy is that the UN has failed in making sure about
fulfilling what has been said in the Preamble to the Charter of the United
Nations about the world body’s obligation “to save succeeding generations
from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold
sorrow to mankind.” If a six-year Gazan child has not already died of
hunger, or if they have not already experienced injury and disability, and
have not faced dire problems with regard to essential needs of their life,
they have, at least, seen three bouts of war and bloodshed in the besieged
territory and have spent all their life under siege. In the meantime, the
entire world has been, of course, expressing its sympathy with them!!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gaza and the Conscience of Humanity

ChrisGunness UNOCHA says at least 168 Palestinians killed in Gaza in last week, 80% (133 people) are civilians of whom 21% (36) are children.
The assault continues after six days ,while the tragic scenes displayed in independent media and social networks has horrified many onlookers.
According to reports comming from different locations hundreds of cities have witnessed massive demonstrations against the slaughter in Gaza. Israel is confident that it enjoys the backing of major Western States for its incursion so the public opinion is not relevant for them. Their strategy is to kill the resistance and resilience of the Palestinian nation.
The question that remains for many of us who believe in multilateralism is that what is the relevancy of the UN when it does not make any serious effort to prevent bloodshed and war against defenseless civilians who have suffered for decades snow at the hands of the occupiers and aggressors?
 If the current peacemaking mechanisms remain inefficient , irresponsive, and biased in their performance then many societies would resort to taking their affairs in their own hands and this message would fuel more violence and extremism in today's world.The solidarity of many governments with the people of Gaza is also a hopeful sign , the Chilean Senate took a moment of silence for them.
The question each human being needs to ask is where do I stand on this matter of conscience and humanity today? Gaza will stand as a gauge to expose the true identity of us all.