“Regional Security in the West Asia: Emerging Challenges and Trends Conference” took place at University of Tehran Faculty of World Studies on 16th December in the presence of Advisor to President Rouhani and Head of Center for Strategic Studies, Dr. Hesamodin Ashna and the UN Resident Coordinator in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Gary Lewis.
Speaking at the conference, Mr. Lewis focused on human security and emphasized that humanity – as a whole – needs to think about security in a different way and focus on human security as opposed to traditional definition of security which focuses on “men in uniforms marching down streets, saluting with riffles”.
He said: “Mother nature is not happy with us - from the way we are consuming and producing – producing greenhouse gasses, increasing temperatures, pushing desertification and deforestation, biodiversity loss, contamination of water, droughts, floods. A lot of these things will have an effect on our food supply. Not just on land where an increase of one degree Celsius in temperature – on average – will produce a 10% decline in crop productivity.”
Mr. Lewis made reference to the situation of the Hamouns and showed pictures from 20 years ago when there was water, the land was green, and a more recent picture where the water is gone, and the area is covered in dust and sand and stated “What I am about to show you will break your heart. All of the water is gone. One in three days there is sand and dust storms blowing around.”
He added: “In Sistan va Baluchestan we face a perfect storm and the elements of that storm according to my observation and conversation with Dr. Ashna are:
- Drug trafficking.
- Sand and dust storms.
- Destruction of traditional livelihoods.”
The UN Resident Coordinator concluded his remarks by stating: “The future is happening now, and we need to wake up and fix what we have broken. I wish to conclude by focusing on 6 ways for leaders to respond to the challenges we are facing:
- Think in terms of security.
- Improve our knowledge of climate change impacts.
- Seek transformational technologies.
- Improve our ability to deal with massive, complex, non-linear phenomena.
- Broaden collaborative international planning.
- Think and plan in terms of decades – not years.”
Dr. Ashna also spoke at the event and made reference to the internal and external wars in the region which has resulted in loss of life of many innocent people, but he also spoke about threats including the environmental challenges that humanity is facing in this region. In this regards Dr. Ashna said: “In addition to other challenges that we are facing in the region, one of its most important environmental and economic trends is the water scarcity crisis. To date, some governments in the regional have been more successful than the others in overcoming this crisis.”
He added: “However, some countries in the regions also share transboundary water resources, and the use of these resources needs to be according to the international rules and regulations, but some countries are using these resources greedily and only have the interest of their own country in mind. This method, will not only save any country from overcoming its water crisis, but rather it will lead to water wars among nations.”
Dr. Ashna concluded his remarks by saying: “Overcoming the environmental challenges requires all countries in the region working together. No one country, can alone, overcome these challenges on their own. Environmental challenges do not respect borders and thus we need to work together and collectively through collaboration overcome them.”
Other participants at the conference included academia, students and the media.
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