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6 Nov 2017 - “Environment no longer a silent victim of war – Mother Nature is joining the debate”

The international community needs to think increasingly about how environmental factors will become the actual drivers of conflict.  And take measures to prevent this.

Speaking recently at a ceremony to mark the world’s need to stop conflicts from despoiling the environment, Gary Lewis, the UN Resident Coordinator in Iran, turned this perspective on its head and urged that there is a greater danger in underestimating the consequences of climate change and resource scarcity on conflict.

“We tend to think that the environment is a perpetual silent victim of war.  But Mother Nature is talking back at us.  She has joined the debate.  And she will win it,” Lewis said.

“Droughts, heatwaves, storms, floods and sea-level-rise are but the beginning of what she has in store for us.  And the resulting scarcities of water, food price spikes and unequal resource access may well contribute to weakened state structures and political violence in future – driving migrations, climate refugees and producing insecurity,” he added.

Sixteen years ago, the UN General Assembly declared that every 6 November will be the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. 

To commemorate the day in Iran, the Centre for Peace and Environment in collaboration with the Vice-Presidency for Women and Family Affairs organized the 9th International Seminar on Environmental Consequences of War and Armed Conflict.  Lewis was invited to speak at the event.

Lewis focused on the gigatons of CO2 that human activities are pumping into the atmosphere, which – along with other greenhouse gases – are contributing to a warming of the planet that has dramatically disturbed the climate’s natural equilibrium. 

Resulting climate change has driven up average global temperatures beyond 1 degree Celsius compared with the pre-industrial average, Lewis noted. 

4.	Mr. Gary Lewis addressing the participants at the Ninth International Seminar on Environmental Consequences of War and Armed ConflictParticipants attending Ninth International Seminar on Environmental Consequences of War and Armed Conflict

He drew attention to the now-classic example of Syria, where environmental changes contributed significantly to the start of the ongoing civil war.  He noted the severe drought had driven millions of farmers and pastoralists away from the countryside and into Syria’s cities – cities which were ill-equipped to cope with such a sudden inrush of people. 

This trend comingled with increasing anger and frustration towards the government amongst the people of the poorest urban areas, where many of the internally-displaced people settled.  Protests erupted, he noted, and this was then followed by the violent clashes which eventually led to civil war.

“The role of a hotter, drier climate as a driver of this conflict cannot be over-estimated,” Lewis added.

“What matters as future drivers of climate insecurity is the interplay between energy, water and food,” he continued.  “Who will suffer most?  As always, people in the developing countries.  The women – the poor – and the most vulnerable within those very same countries.  But solutions exist,” Lewis said.

In concluding, the UN Resident Coordinator offered what he called five lessons for leaders – both in Iran and beyond.

Lewis began by suggesting that States should start looking at traditional security issues from the “Human Security” angle.  Governments needed, he noted, to focus more on ensuring the security of people, and not only of States – this was especially the case as environmental challenges do not respect borders.

Second, was to “improve our knowledge on the impact of climate change through advanced satellite technology and constant climate surveillance”.  He also stressed the importance of what he termed, “feedback for applied learning”.

Third, was to develop “transformational” technologies which would help decarbonize the economy quickly.  The key goal, he noted, would be to reduce – and eventually eliminate – man-made GHGs, especially CO2 entering the atmosphere and contributing to the greenhouse effect.  He praised the emphasis of the administration of President Rouhani on promoting the need for Iran to adopt a low-carbon economy approach.

Lewis’ fourth point stressed the need for international collaboration.  He said there was a need to broaden collaborative international planning and emphasize “climate governance”.  There was a need, he stressed, to improve environmental dispute resolution capacity in peace-building efforts.  Also important was the need to improve trans-boundary resource management approaches, such as those which would be needed to secure solutions for water-basin challenges linked to the Hamouns and Hur-ul Azim systems bordering Iran and, respectively, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Finally, he called for a long-term perspective in reducing the security threat of climate change. 

“The ‘dwell time’ for CO2 in the atmosphere will be centuries.  We need to think and plan in those terms – or at least in terms of decades.  But no longer just years,” Lewis said. 

“We need to implement the SDGs – especially those linked to natural resource management and climate change – and engage the private sector in this quest,” he added.  “For governments alone cannot do the job.  In order to make our current consumption and production patterns sustainable we need to invest trillions, not just billions, in renewables like solar, hydro, wind and geothermal – all of which Iran possesses.  The private sector must see a profit potential in joining the march to renewable energy.”

"This is happening,” Lewis said, “but the pace needs to quicken.”


25 Oct 2017 - UN working with Iran to build emergency medical teams to halt epidemic outbreaks

  • Published in Health

Remember those movies where an international epidemic breaks out and the international community “surges” a medical response team instantly to solve the problem?

Well, as we know from hard experience, including the recent Ebola pandemic in West Africa, this rarely occurs in real life.

In reality, responses to epidemics and disasters are often too slow, usually uncoordinated, and do not deliver the response to the places in greatest need.

That is why, back in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a system which will ensure quality standards for emergency medical teams (EMTs) in emergency and outbreak settings.  To date over 75 teams have completed the process and are fully classified. 

20171026 unrc01Group photo of the participants

By the end of 2017, the number of such teams is expected to rise to 200.  This will make available to the international community, a potential emergency workforce of over 100,000 people.

Iran has indicated it wants to be part of such a system.  Both to have WHO-accredited EMTs within the country and to be able to supply EMTs in the region in response to potential emergencies and outbreaks, should they occur in neighboring countries.

As part of this process, this week, the WHO – in coordination with Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education and the Iranian Red Crescent Society – organized a training workshop in Tehran to provide guidance on EMT operations, logistics and coordination.  The overall aim is to provide an opportunity for key country health and emergency service leaders and members of Iran’s EMT task force to strengthen national capacity.

Speaking at the concluding ceremony today, UN Resident Coordinator, Gary Lewis said: “It is a sad reality that in medical responses involving direct patient care, ‘good intentions’ are never enough.  EMTs need to be properly trained.  They must have the right equipment and supplies.  This will enable them to work in a safe manner, rather than arriving uncoordinated, not self-sufficient and – instead of helping – becoming a burden on the community affected.” 

International best practice shows that national teams of medical and public health providers are always the most appropriate first responders.  Building on this premise, WHO is advocating for a stronger national and regional system of preparedness and response.

“This will save more lives, and the work will be carried out in a more culturally-appropriate manner,” Mr. Lewis said.

For this reason, the WHO EMT initiative does not only focus on international responders.  In fact, its main emphasis is to strengthen the national EMTs and public-health, rapid-response system.  It will also strengthen the Ministry of Health’s ability to identify, accept and coordinate elements of the global health emergency workforce consistent with its needs.

Following the workshop, Iran’s Ministry of Health will create a working group/task force to manage the initiative. 

The next steps after this will be to develop and accredit national EMTs, while enhancing the capacity of existing EMTs to be quality-assured by WHO and join the global registry of verified teams ready for international deployment.

In time, the ability of countries to really – and effectively – and quickly – respond to future emergencies and outbreaks will no longer be confined to events depicted on the silver screen.  They will be an actual reality on the ground.



16 Oct 2017 - “Iran an immense success story on TB suppression”: UN Resident Coordinator

  • Published in Health

“During the past 50 years, Iran has proven itself to be an immense success story in terms of TB suppression,” said UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gary Lewis, yesterday.

He delivered these remarks at the conclusion of a four-day event organized in Tehran by Iran’s Centre of Disease Control (CDC) at Shahid Beheshti University.

Flashback to the year 1964.  In Iran, the reported cases of TB then stood at 143 per 100,000 persons.  Today, this figure stands at 16 per 100,000 persons.  By comparison, the current global average stands at almost exactly the same figure for Iran back in 1964.

And yet, several challenges remain in eliminating the disease.  According to Mr. Lewis, “the last kilometer is always the hardest”.  These include the fact that the disease is evolving to counter effective medication, and also its continued entry into Iran by persons migrating from countries to the east and north-east.

However, the immense success of what Iran has managed to achieve in recent decades, was cause to celebrate at the event. 

The celebration coincided with the commemoration of National TB Day and among the attendees and speakers were Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Gouya, Head of CDC and Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.

20171016 undp02Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Gouya, Head of CDC

Speaking at opening, Dr. Gouya said: “Globally, in 2015, there were an estimated 10.4 million new cases of TB with six countries accounting for 60% of the total with India leading the count followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.”

He added: “Today, TB remains one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.  New data from WHO reveals that the global TB burden is higher than previously estimated.  Countries – including Iran – need to move much faster to prevent, detect and treat TB if the “End TB Strategy” targets are to be achieved in the next 15 years.  The strategy – to which Iran has committed – aims to end the global TB epidemic, with targets to reduce TB deaths by 95% and to cut new cases by 90% between 2015 and 2035, and to ensure that no family is burdened with catastrophic expenses due to TB.”

Referring to the joint partnership between the Government of Iran, the Global Fund and UNDP Iran, Mr. Lewis said: “While our joint TB programme was successfully completed in the year 2015, together we achieved many goals.”  He pointed to the following:

  • Increasing national attention and sensitization of decision-makers, personnel and health care workers towards TB control programme in prisons.
  • Improved TB programme technical standards by upgrading the labs.
  • Establishing/upgrading 66 Direct Smear Microscopy (DSM) labs, 40 Culture Lab and 8 Drug Susceptibility Test labs.
  • Improvement in surveillance system (i.e., reporting, and recording system) in prisons.
  • Improvement in Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course (DOTS) coverage.
  • Contributing to a treatment success rate of 87% against the target of 84% per cent.
  • Procurement of 4 GeneXpert machines that greatly helped strengthen the capacities for detecting drug resistant TB cases.
  • Development, launch and implementation of Transition and Sustainability Plan of TB project to ensure that the investment and achievement of TB project is integrated into the national system and financial sustainability is guaranteed.

Mr. Lewis concludes with a reference to Iran’s need to embrace and support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  “One of the targets of the United Nations is ending the TB epidemic by 2030.  This target is achievable.  TB is curable.  The United Nations – and UNDP in particular – stand ready to assist the Government of Iran to achieve this goal.”


23 Sep 2017 - Reversing deforestation and soil erosion in Golestan Province

Livelihoods and nature are turning a corner in Tilabad in Golestan Province in Iran, thanks to the efforts of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Iran through the so-called Carbon Sequestration Project (CSP).

Trees are being planted, deforested hills are being terraced to prevent soil erosion and manage irrigation sustainably, new crops such as saffron and medicinal herbs are generating new income and jobs, villagers are innovating to ensure healthy organic crops and handicrafts now contribute to household incomes. A new building is housing the cooperatively run micro-credit scheme that supports the villagers in this process of change.

On 20 and 21 September, officials from the Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Organization (FRWO), Golestan province and UNDP Iran visited the villages in Tilabad where the CSP has been active since 2013. They also learned about the plans for expanding into new project sites.  The purpose was to see firsthand how this project through strong community engagement is reversing deforestation and preventing soil erosion through measures that also increase yields and income, enhance livelihoods, protect human health and generate employment.

“Implementation of this project has been very successful in Iran, especially in Golestan province. I think CSP has been successful in creating sustainable jobs for local communities - jobs that the country can benefit from” Ms. Anne Marie Sloth Carlsen, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative said to the press.

20170923 undp2Ms. Carlsen addressing the press

Ms. Carlsen added: “As a result of this project a lot of work has been done by local communities in many villages all around Iran which stopped the destruction of natural resources and forests. Involving communities is essential because it gives them a sense of ownership. I am extremely happy to see such a high level of engagement of the local community with this project. To overcome environmental challenges, each citizen should feel responsible and take action towards protecting and safeguarding the environment. This is something that we are witnessing in the villages I visited today.”

During this trip Ms. Carlsen also inaugurated a new office of the CSP project in Golestan province.

Back in 2003, the first phase of Carbon Sequestration Project (CSP) was initiated in South Khorasan Province with support from the Global Environment Facility.  The second phase starting in 2013, replicated and implemented across 18 provinces in Iran including in some pilot sites in Golestan Province.  In the third phase of the project which was signed recently, the project will expand in five new sites in four provinces: South Khorasan, North Khorasan, Yazd and Golestan. 



21 Sep 2017 - UNDP Iran and Ozone project office released a video clip

On the occasion of Ozone Day, UNDP Iran and Ozone Project office released a video clip on the importance of the Ozone layer.

This clip is a part of the famous animation series called Dirin Dirin.

Click here to watch this clip on Aparat.



شهریور 96 - حضور حصیر ایرانی در جشنواره روستای ایروان

بازنشر: خبرگزاری مهر

به گزارش خبرنگار مهر جشنواره روستا، شانزده سپتامبر ۲۰۱۷ مصادف با بیست و پنج شهریور ۱۳۹۶ در اینگلیش پارک ایروان ارمنستان با حضور کشاورزان محلی، تعاونی های زنان محلی، سازمانهای بین المللی و موسسات غیردولتی حفاظت از طبیعت برگزار شد.

در افتتاحیه این مراسم وزیر کشاورزی ارمنستان، سفیر آلمان، مدیر موسسه توسعه ای اتریش، شهردار ایروان، مدیر شبکه سمنهای محیط زیستی حوزه قفقاز و رییس هیات مدیره موسسه توسعه پایدار هرمد سخنرانی کردند.

موسسه توسعه پایدار هرمد به عنوان تنها نماینده جمهوری اسلامی ایران در جشنواره روستا با هدف معرفی توانمندی زنان روستایی به نمایش و عرضه دستبافت زنان روستایی پروژه های مورد حمایت برنامه کمکهای کوچک محیط زیست جهانی و نیز حصیرهای هنری بافته شده توسط زنان و مردان محلی استانهای سیستان و بلوچستان، هرمزگان، بوشهر، خوزستان، یزد و کرمان اقدام کرد.

این آثار هنری روستایی با توجه به نامگذاری امسال از سوی سازمان میراث فرهنگی به نام سال حصیر و نیز حضور برنامه کمکهای کوچک تسهیلات محیط زیست جهانی عمران ملل متحد قریب به پانزده سال در جزیره قشم با هدف ایجاد معیشت پایدار جوامع محلی انتخاب و در این رویداد برون مرزی به نمایش درآمده بود.

وزیر کشاورزی ارمنستان ضمن بازدید از غرفه موسسه توسعه پایدار هرمد، هنر بکار رفته در این آثار را ستود.

ارایه کمپوست تولید شده توسط زنان محلی روستای اسبوکلای مازندران و روستای کفشگیری گلستان نیز از دیگر محصولات عرضه شده در این رویداد بین المللی  روستایی بود.

زنان روستایی در پروژه مشترک موسسه توسعه پایدار هرمد و برنامه کمکهای کوچک تسهیلات محیط زیست جهانی عمران ملل متحد که با مشارکت تشکلهای محلی خانه جوان فرید و همیاران طبیعت اسبوکلا انجام شد با هدف کاهش حجم پسماند و کاهش انتشار متان اقدام به تبدیل تر زباله خانگی و کشاورزی به کمپوست و استفاده از آن در کشاورزی ارگانیک برای تولید محصول سالم کردند.

جشنواره روستا در بخش اختتامیه خود، با اهدا لوح تقدیری از حضور موثر موسسه توسعه پایدار هرمد در راستای معرفی توانمندی جوامع روستایی کشور ایران در این رویداد تقدیر به عمل آورد.

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