16 May 2016 - Iran launches its first National Strategic Plan to step up the battle against climate change

Iran launched a national strategic plan today aimed at helping the country to adapt and mitigate to risks from climate change.

The plan, developed in line with the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the Paris Agreement to combat Climate Change, will guide how Iran moves forward on sustainable socio-economic development.

“The launch of this national strategic plan reflects Iran’s strong political will in achieving sustainable development,” said Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice-President and Head of Iran’s Department of the Environment.

Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President and Head of the Department of EnvironmentDr. Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President and Head of the Department of Environment

“This plan is the result of the collective work between people, the United Nations, universities and the media” she added. 

Across the nation, Iran faces multiple environmental challenges such as shortage of water, land degradation, desertification, and loss of biodiversity. In some areas, the shortage of water has been so acute it has forced people to migrate. In other regions desertification has affected livelihoods and has caused severe sand and dust storms affecting wide swathes of the country.

The impact of climate change is not only being felt in Iran but across the world, and the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence points to human influence as the cause.

In his speech at the event, Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said that for every man-made problem lies a man-made solution.

“We see from the long sweep of human history, that problems gets solved if we do two things.  The first is to know, the second is to act on the basis of the evidence that we know. That is what I see happening here today,” said Mr. Lewis. “By launching this plan Iran now becomes one of a very small number of countries that is acting in this evidence-based way.  The UN – and specifically UNDP – is extremely proud to be involved with Iran in this journey to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.”: https://goo.gl/VFdghl

Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative (left), Dr. Ali Nazaridoust, Head of Programme  and Assistant Resident Representative (right) Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative (left), Dr. Ali Nazaridoust, Head of Programme and Assistant Resident Representative (right)

Also speaking at the event was Dr. Saeed Motessadi, Deputy Head of the Department of Environment who stated: “Iran ranks among the top 10 countries in the production of greenhouse gases.  We should not be waiting for disaster to strike, we should plan ahead and the national strategic plan will guide the country towards the right path to overcome these challenges.” 

The event took place at the Department of Environment in the presence of government officials, members of Iran’s academia and the media.



26 April 2017 - UNDP Executive Board welcomes appointment of Achim Steiner as new Administrator

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New York – The President of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today welcomed the appointment of Achim Steiner as the Organization’s new Administrator.

Mr Steiner’s nomination for UNDP Administrator was forwarded by Secretary-General António Guterres to the General Assembly, which today confirmed him as the Administrator of UNDP for a term of four years.

UNDP supports countries around the world to eradicate extreme poverty, strengthen good governance and prevent and respond to crises.

President of the UNDP Executive Board, Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN, said: “I know that I am speaking on behalf of all members of the Executive Board and all UNDP staff in warmly welcoming Achim Steiner as UNDP’s new Administrator.

“Achim Steiner brings a wealth of experience, expertise and dedication to this hugely important role. I am certain he will make an enduring and positive impact on UNDP’s development work around the world,” he added.

Mr Steiner said: “I am honoured by the Secretary-General’s decision to appoint me as the next Administrator of UNDP and grateful for the trust and confidence Member States have expressed in the General Assembly today.   I am very much looking forward to working with all UNDP staff and Member States to continue the fight to end poverty, protect the planet and promote peace and justice around the world.”

Mr Steiner has been a respected global leader on sustainable development, international cooperation and global diplomacy for nearly three decades. He is a vocal advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals and the need for unprecedented global cooperation to deliver on this ambitious agenda.

Prior to joining UNDP, Mr Steiner served in roles across the UN, non-government organizations and high-level advisory bodies shaping public policy. This included tenures as United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme; as Director-General of the UN Office at Nairobi and as Director General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Mr Steiner is currently the Director of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford and Professorial Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford.

Mr Steiner replaces Helen Clark, who served two successive terms as UNDP Administrator.

View a biography of Achim Steiner here: 



10 April 2017 - New Japanese grant gives hope for sustained recovery in Lake Urmia

There is now hope for the sustained restoration of Lake Urmia. 

Water – albeit thinly spread – is now covering a significant amount of the lake’s formerly dried-out surface.  Much more than it was two years – or even one year – ago.  And while the lake’s biosphere is still in critical condition, there have been sustained and relentless improvements in recent months to re-fill the lake.  As a result, the destiny of the world’s once-second-largest saltwater body is much brighter than at any time in the past decade.

Situated in North West of Iran, Lake Urmia  is part of a unique biodiversity rich ecosystem of also freshwater wetlands and rivers that are essential to the livelihoods of more than 5 million people living in the basin.  This Ramsar Site – which is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a National Park – had been shrinking at an alarming rate.  Three years ago the lake contained only 0.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water – down from the massive 30 bcm it used to contain when full.  In terms of surface area covered, the lake’s 5000 square kilometer surface had dwindled to 500 km2 in 2013.  Now it is back to 2,300 km2  - although much of this water is very thinly spread.

The reversal is due to the combined efforts of multiple actors at local, national and international level.  The prospects for a restoration are now stronger than anytime since the lake started to be emptied – 20 years ago – as a result of intense dam construction and the diversion of water for agriculture.

The signing ceremony took place at the Department of Environment The signing ceremony took place at the Department of Environment

The reasons for the replenishment are threefold: first the deliberate release of water from dams.  Second, the canal drainage to un-silt the feeder rivers.  Third, better water management among the farming communities nestled in the Lake Urmia basin.  It is this latter effort which is likely to be the most impactful in the long run.  And this is where the combination of local, national and international efforts has been concentrated.

The work is centred on a project undertaken by UNDP and funded by Japan which seeks to promote ecosystem management of the farming techniques and thereby save water.  This project has just benefitted from another generously contribution of US$ 1 million from Japan.  This brings the total funding from Japan to $4m in 4 years.

The signing ceremony for the 4th phase of the project took place on 9th April at the Department of Environment (DOE) in the presence of Vice-President and Head of DOE, Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar, Deputy Ambassador of Japan to Iran, Mr. Hideo Suzuki and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Iran, Mr. Gary Lewis.

The contribution is implemented as a component of UNDP’s ongoing Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project  – a project in which UNDP is partnering with Iran’s Department of Environment.

The project has been active for many years, but engagement with communities to start the new farming practices started in earnest 4 years ago with the original Japanese grant.

Speaking at the ceremony. Mr. Lewis said: “I have been privileged to live in Iran for four years and during this period I have visited Lake Urmia multiple times and I have been able to witness the changing situation of the lake with my own eyes.”

He added: “The first time I visited the lake I was shocked.  I saw dry, empty, white salt-bed. I heard wind howling.  I saw it blowing the salt all around and dumping on the agriculture lands beyond the lake, all around the edges.  But six weeks a when I went back, I saw something different.  Returning to the barren landscape after almost four years, I was able to see water.  Not nearly enough, but much more than last time.  The lake is reviving.  And this revival is the result of an immensely successful collaborative effort involving many players – some Iranian, some foreign.  Life has returned to the dying Salt Lake and the effort to restore what had been broken is succeeding.”

Mr. Lewis then shared some data with the attendees and referred to the lake dimensions in the years 1997, 2013 and 2017 to illustrate the improving situation.  Please see below table for facts and figures.   

Lake Urmia dimensions throughout the yearsLake Urmia dimensions throughout the years

Mr. Suzuki also spoke at the event, stating: “Taking into consideration the critical situation of Lake Urmia and the importance of reviving the lake, in January 2017 the Government of Japan decided to renew its commitment to restoring Lake Urmia and support the efforts of the Government of Iran and UNDP.”

Mr. Suzuki added: “The restoration of the lake will not happen overnight, however we can see that the condition of Lake Urmia is better today than it was three years ago.  This is the result of the efforts of all those who joined forces to revive Lake Urmia.  We hope that the contribution from the Government of Japan can enhance the living conditions of those residing around Lake Urmia basin.”

“This new grant will enable the expansion of the project”, Mr. Suzuki said.  The chart below outlines the project’s growth over the past 4 years.  However, even with the expansion, it will still reach fewer than half of the basin’s farming communities.  Expansion is therefore needed.

In terms of impact, the water-saving techniques are often extremely simple – such as improved irrigation techniques (instead of totally flooding a field, the water is targeted to the specific trees or shrubs) and planting crops which require less water.  The combined effect, in the farming communities piloting the project has been to save one-third of the water which can re-enter the lake.  Paradoxically, they have also improved yields across the board by 40 per cent on average.

Originally the project was initiated in 41 villages around the basin of the lake.  This new contribution will expand the area covered with these techniques to cover a total of 110 villages. 

Local community engagement through different phases of the restoration projectLocal community engagement through different phases of the restoration project

The Ministry of Agriculture will now take over extension services for the original 41 villages.

In her concluding remarks, Dr. Ebtekar said: “Join cooperation between the Government of Japan and the DOE show that international cooperation in the field of environment is really important and much needed.  International organizations such as the UN play a key role in the protection of environment and exchange of knowledge and best practices among nations.”

Dr. Ebtekar added: “What we have accomplished together through this trilateral cooperation can be used in other parts of the country as well.” 

Media were present at the project document signing ceremony Media were present at the project document signing ceremony


21 March 2017 - World’s most marginalized still left behind by global development priorities: UNDP report

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Stockholm, 21 March 2017 – A quarter-century of impressive human development progress continues to leave many people behind, with systemic, often unmeasured, barriers to catching up. A stronger focus on those excluded and on actions to dismantle these barriers is urgently needed to ensure sustainable human development for all.

These are the findings of the Human Development Report 2016, entitled ‘Human Development for Everyone’, released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The report finds that although average human development improved significantly across all regions from 1990 to 2015, one in three people worldwide continue to live in low levels of human development, as measured by the Human Development Index.

“Leaving no one behind needs to become the way we operate as a global community. In order to overcome the barriers that hamper both human development and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, inclusiveness must guide policy choices,” said Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, speaking at the launch of the report in Stockholm today, alongside UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and the report’s lead author and Director of the Human Development Report Office, Selim Jahan.

“The world has come a long way in rolling back extreme poverty, in improving access to education, health and sanitation, and in expanding possibilities for women and girls,” said Helen Clark. “But those gains are a prelude to the next, possibly tougher challenge, to ensure the benefits of global progress reach everyone.”

This is a concern in developed countries too, where poverty and exclusion are also a challenge, with over 300 million people – including more than one-third of all children – living in relative poverty.

Left behind and unable to catch up: systemic discrimination against women, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, among others

The report notes that not only are deprivations high, but disadvantages disproportionately affect some groups.

“We place too much attention on national averages, which often mask enormous variations in people’s lives,” stated Selim Jahan. “In order to advance, we need to examine more closely not just what has been achieved, but also who has been excluded and why.” 

The report shows that in almost every country, several groups face disadvantages that often overlap and reinforce each other, increasing vulnerability, widening the progress gap across generations, and making it harder to catch up as the world moves on.

Women and girls, rural dwellers, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants and refugees, and the LGBTI community are among those systematically excluded by barriers that are not purely economic, but political, social and cultural as well.

In the case of women, the largest of these groups, the report notes that while global gender disparities are narrowing slowly, longstanding patters of exclusion and lack of empowerment for women and girls remain pressing challenges.

Women tend to be poorer, earn less, and have fewer opportunities in most aspects of life than men. In 100 countries, women are legally excluded from some jobs because of their gender, and in 18 countries, women need their husband’s approval to work. Dangerous practices like female genital mutilation and forced marriage continue.

Populations living in rural areas also face multiple barriers. For instance, children from poor rural households attending school are less likely to be learning reading, writing and mathematics.

Moreover, migrants and refugees often face barriers to work, education and political participation and more than 250 million people in the world face discrimination on the basis of their ethnicity, the report notes among other examples.

It is time to face up to deep-rooted barriers to development

“By eliminating deep, persistent, discriminatory social norms and laws, and addressing the unequal access to political participation, which have hindered progress for so many, poverty can be eradicated and a peaceful, just, and sustainable development can be achieved for all," Helen Clark said.

Marginalized groups often have limited opportunities to influence the institutions and policies that determine their lives. Changing this is central to breaking the vicious circle of exclusion and deprivation.

For example, indigenous peoples account for five percent of the world’s population, but 15 percent of people living in poverty. And members of the LGBTI community cannot actively advocate for their rights when same-sex acts between men are illegal in more than 70 countries.

The report calls for far greater attention to empowering the most marginalized in society, and recognizes the importance of giving them greater voice in decision-making processes.

The report also calls for a more refined analysis to inform actions, including making a shift toward assessing progress in such areas as participation and autonomy. Key data, disaggregated for characteristics such as place, gender, socioeconomic status and ethnicity, is vital to know who is being left behind.  

Moreover, the report warns, key development metrics can overstate progress when they focus on the quantity, rather than the quality, of development. For instance, girls’ enrolment in primary education has increased, but in half of 53 developing countries with data, the majority of adult women who completed four to six years of primary school are illiterate.

Human development for everyone is attainable

“Despite progress gaps, universal human development is attainable,” said Selim Jahan. “Over the last decades, we have witnessed achievements in human development that were once thought impossible.”

Since 1990, one billion people have escaped extreme poverty, and women’s empowerment has become a mainstream issue: while as recently as the 1990s, very few countries legally protected women from domestic violence, today, 127 countries do.

The report stresses the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to build on these gains, noting that the agenda and human development approach are mutually reinforcing.

The report includes recommendations to reorient policies to ensure progress reaches those furthest behind, and urges reforms of global markets and global institutions to make them more equitable and representative.

* * *


UNDP Headquarters, New York

Anna Ortubia:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   / +1 212 906 5964

Ann-Marie Wilcock:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / +1 212 906 6586

UNDP Nordic Regional Office

Trygve Olfarnes:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  / +47 94156028

Caroline Åberg:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   / +46 70 547 93 42

ABOUT THIS REPORT: The Human Development Report is an editorially independent publication of the United Nations Development Programme. For free downloads of the 2016 Human Development Report, plus additional reference materials on its indices, please visit: http://hdr.undp.org  

2016 Human Development Report http://report.hdr.undp.org/

Full press package in all UN official languages http://hdr.undp.org/en/2016-report/press



اسفند 95 - دریاچه ارومیه آرام آرام به زندگی باز می گردد

یادداشتی از گری لوییس هماهنگ کننده مقیم سازمان ملل متحد و نماینده دفتر توسعه ملل متحد در جمهوری اسلامی ایران

به مناسبت روز جهانی آب

زندگی، به دریاچه نمک شمال غرب ایران که زمانی در حال خشک شدن بود بازگشته است. این دریاچه و تلاش ها برای برای بازگرداندن چیزی که در آستانه نابود شدن بود موفقیت آمیز بوده است.

بعد از حدود چهار سال به جایی بازگشتم که قبلا چشم اندازی خشک داشت. اما این بار آب را میتوانستم ببینم. نه به اندازه کافی، اما بسیار بیشتر از چیزی که دفعه ی قبل دیده بودم . دریاچه در حال احیا شدن است و دلیل اصلی این احیا نتیجه یک مشارکت موقق همگانی است که بازیگران زیادی در آن نقش داشته اند که برخی از آنها ایرانی و بعضی دیگر خارجی هستند.  دریاچه ارومیه زمانی بزرگترین دریاچه ایران و همچنین در زمان پر آبی، دومین دریاچه آب شور دنیا بود. اما به دلیل مداخلاتی فزاینده انسانی در طول 60 سال گذشته، نظیر ساخت سدها بر روی رودخانه های تغذیه کننده دریاچه، جریان آب ورودی از حوضه آبریز به دریاچه نمک منحرف شده بود. و به همین سادگی دریاچه خشک شد. دریاچه ارومیه به دست ما انسان ها در حال نابود شدن بود.

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این تصاویرعکس هایی است که من از فرایند مرگ پر درد این دریاچه در سال 2013 گرفتم. 

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من به یاد دارم که بر روی سطحی بی آب، نمکی، و مرده ایستاده بودم و این منظره همان بستر دریاچه بود که دلیل بی آبی نمایان شده بود. آب رفته بود اما باد نه. این باد تمام نمک های بستر دریاچه را بلند کرده و به اطراف پخش می کرد. به خاطر باد زیاد دانه های نمک به صورت من برخورد می کرد و وارد ریه های من و زمین های کشاورزی اطراف دریاچه می شد. تصویری که می دیدم صحنه ای بود که در تصوراتم از سیاره مریخ تجسم می کردم.

به یاد دارم که در سفر قبل از خودم پرسیدم زندگی روزانه در این دشت نمکی برای ساکنین و  کشاورزان حاشیه دریاچه ارومیه چه حالی میتواند داشته باشد. 

همچنین به یاد دارم که به این موضع فکر می کردم که خشکی این دریاچه حداقل دو پیامد مهم به همراه خواهد داشت. اول اینکه، نمک بستر دریاچه به هوا خواهد رفت و محصولات و زمین های کشاورزی اطراف  را در بر می گیرد و در عین حال همه این زمین ها خود به منبع تولید بادهای نمکی در مقیاس و شعاعی بزرگتر خواهند شد. دوم اینکه باید انتظار بیماری مردم را نیز داشته باشیم. برای مثال، در مجاورت دریای آرال  خشک شده در آسیای مرکزی ما مردمی را می بینیم که به حساسیت های گوناگون، بیماری های ریوی متفاوت از جمله سرطان دچار شده اند.

اما نکته سوم مخرب دیگری هم در این داستان وجود دارد. با کم شدن دسترسی کشاورزان به آب، آنها چاه های عمیق تری برای دسترسی به سفره های آب زیر زمینی حفر می کنند و برداشت بی رویه از این سفره های آبی باعث می شود تا آبهای شور به این چاه ها نفوذ کنند. این امر سبب می شود تا دسترسی مردم حتی به آب آشامیدنی نیز کم شود. بنابراین ما با پدیده "طوفان بزرگ نمک" روبرو می شویم که سلامت و معیشت مردم را تهدید می کند. 

دو هفته پیش پس از فرود هواپیما در شهر ارومیه پس از پرواز یک ساعته با خودم فکر می کردم با چه منظره ای روبرو می شوم. در مورد بهبود وضعیت دریاچه خبرهایی شنیده بودم. اما بعضی از خبرها بعد از درخواست مدرک برای اثبات آنها کم رنگ می شوند. باید با چشمان خودم می دیدم.

همین طور که به سمت دریاچه می رفتیم نور خورشید روی چیزی شروع به تابیدن کرد که در آخرین سفرم آنجا نبود.

آب. عمیق نبود. اما برای پوشش سطح نمکی دریاچه که صحنه های ویران گری را خلق کرده بود، کافی بود. همان طور که روی پل در حال رانندگی بودیم درخشش نور خورشید روی آب بیشتر شد.

این ها تصاویری است که آن روز صبح دیدم.

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 باید اعتراف کنم اینقدر خوشحال شدم که چشمانم پر از اشک شادی شد. با خودم فکر کردم پس مشکلات زیست محیطی که بدست ما انسان ها خلق شده اند قابل حل هستند. و اینجا یک نمونه برای این ادعا وجود دارد. ابتدا باید کمی آمار در این زمینه با شما در میان بگذارم.

زمانی که دریاچه پر بود، برای فرض حدود 20 سال پیش، تخمین زده می شود که حدود 30 میلیارد متر مکعب آب در آن وجود داشت. در بدترین شرایط که حدود 3 یا 4 سال پیش بوده است این مقدار به حدود نیم میلیارد متر مکعب آب شور رسید. این عدد امروز 2.5 میلیارد متر مکعب آب است. روند کاهش مرگ بار آب معکوس شده است. مقدار آب ماه به ماه افزایش می یابد.

به دلیل اینکه میزان بارش باران و برف در سال های اخیر تغییر زیادی نکرده است، باید به دنبال دلایل دیگری باشیم تا ببینیم دریاچه چرا در حال پُر شدن است.

سه دلیل اصلی وجود دارد. اول کارهای مهندسی است که در خصوص بازکردن مسیر آب رودخانه های منتهی به دریاچه  انجام شده است. دوم رها سازی آب سدهایی است که در  حوضه آبریز و مجاورت دریاچه قرار دارد.  سوم و از همه سخت تر تغییر مدیریت آب در حوزه آبریز دریاچه به خصوص بین کشاروزان است. و البته مسدود کردن چاه های غیر مجاز نیز در این زمینه بی تاثیر نبوده است.  

در ادامه آمار و ارقام دیگری را با شما به اشتراک می گذارم. سه یا چهار سال قبل، زمانی که وضعیت آب در بدترین شرایط خود قرار داشت، تنها 500 کیلومتر مربع از 5 هزار کیلومتر مربع سطح دریاچه با آب پوشیده بود. این مقدار امروز به 2هزار و 300 کیلومتر مربع رسیده است. باید گفت که این حجم آب بسیار کم عمق است و به همین دلیل بسیار سریع تبخیر می شود. اما بیشتر از قبل آب در دریاچه وجود دارد و از حدود 6 میلیارد تن نمک و غبار حفاظت می کند. به خاطر حضور همین آب این نمک ها به راحتی وارد هوا، ریه، چشمان و محصولات کشاورزی مردم نمی شود.

رویکرد سوم – مدیریت بهتر منابع آب – تلاش های بی وفقه و زمان زیادی را از آن خود کرد. اما شواهد نشان می دهد که ثمر بخش بوده است.  احیا دریاچه ارومیه با مشارکت کلیه ذینفعان دولتی و غیردولتی و بویژه جوامع محلی امکان پذیر است و در این فرایند  تلاش های زیادی در راستای تغییر نقش کشاورزان در فرایندهای تصمیم گیری و روش های کشاورزی آنها صورت پذیرفته است. کشاورزان باید با توجه به اهمیت نقششان در صرفه جویی آب هنگام کاشت گندم، جو، میوه و سبزیجات از ابزار آلات جدید و روش های جدید کاشت استفاده می کردند.    

روش های جدید بسیار ساده هستند: تغییر ابعاد مزرعه به قطعات کوچکتر که به حفظ بیشتر آب کمک می کنند. تغییر روش ابیاری غرقابی به آبیاری قطره ای که مستقیم محصولات را هدف قرار می دهد و به همین دلیل آب هدر نمی رود. امتناع از شخم زدن های عمیق که باعث هدر رفتن آب می شود. معرفی گونه های مقاوم در برابر خشکسالی و شخم زدن بقایای گیاهی به جای سوزاندن آنها.

برخی مزارع به دلایل یاد شده توانسته اند تا 40 درصد در مصرف آب صرفه جویی کنند.

در اینجا آخرین آمار و ارقام اطمینان بخش را با شما در میان می گذارم. با توجه به شرایط عادی هیدرولوژیکی دریاچه به طور میانگین حداکثر 5.4 متر عمق دارد که این مقدار در قسمت های شمالی به  حداکثر 15 متر می رسد.  زمانی که دریاچه در بدترین شرایط خود قرار داشت متوسط عمق آب تقریبا به عدد صفر رسیده بود. زمانی که شرایط حال حاضر دریاچه را با همین موقع در سال گذشته مقایسه می کنیم 6 سانتی متر افزایش آب را می بینیم. افزایش میزان آب ماهیانه و پایدار بوده است.

پروژه ای که روش های بهینه مدیریت آب را معرفی کرده است توسط برنامه توسعه ملل متحد اجرا می شود. این طرح در  استان  های آذربایجان غربی و شرقی و با تمرکز بر روی شهرها و روستاهای اطراف دریاچه ارومیه اجرایی شده است و و تلاش می کند با همکاری نزدیک با جوامع محلی، کشاورزان و دستگاه های دولتی ملی و محلی و بر اساس "رویکرد زیست بومی" اقدام نماید.

در ادامه یک فرایند هفت ساله برای معرفی این رویکرد جدید مدیریتی در احیای دریاچه ارومیه و  بدنبال کمک های سخاوتمندانه ی دولت ژاپن در سال های اخیر و همچنین استفاده از منابع مالی دولت در سطوح ملی و استانی این طرح در 90 روستا با موفقیت اجرا شده است و تنها توانسته است که 10 درصد  زمین های کشاورزی حاشیه دریاچه ارومیه  پوشش دهد. با این حال، در مناطقی که طرح کشاورزی پایدار در حال اجراست، یک سوم در مصرف آب صرفه جویی می شود، آبی که در گذشته و با روش های غلط هدر میرفت. حالا این آب فرصت بازگشت به دریاچه ارومیه را دارد.

تلاش های برنامه توسعه ملل متحد و سازمان حفاظت محیط زیست برای حفاظت از تالاب های ایران از جمله دریاچه ارومیه از حدود 12 سال پیش آغاز شده است  و با حمایت مالی دولت ژاپن در سه فاز متوالی سرعت و قدرت بیشتری گرفت و در این مرحله با فراهم کردن فضای مناسب برای مشارکت و همکاری کشاروزان، تعاونی ها و دستگاه های ذیربط دولتی  روش های جدید کشاورزی پایدار مدل جدیدی از مشارکت ذینفعان در راستای احیا دریاچه ارومیه تمرین و معرفی گردید. در این طرح همچنین روش های معیشت جایگزین برای زنان با استفاده از اعتبارات خرد و حفاظت از تنوع زیستی بعنوان بخش های تکمیلی مورد توجه قرار گرفته است.  

در حال حاضر این پروژه در حاشیه دریاچه ارومیه و در مناطقی که بیشترین آسیب را دیده اند، فعالیت می کند. برنامه بلند مدت این است که سطح پوشش 10 درصد را بیشتر کنیم و پروژه به سایر مناطق حوضه آبریز گسترش یابد. تلاش های این پروژه در سطوح مختلف بویژه در سطوح ملی و بین المللی مورد توجه بسیاری قرار گرفته است زمانی که ارومیه را به مقصد تهران ترک می کردم سه درس آموخته مهم را در ذهنم مرور می کردم.

اول، ما با مشکلات زیست محیطی بزرگی در ایران روبرو هستیم. اما می توانیم چیزی را که خراب کرده ایم، درست کنیم. و دریاچه ارومیه می تواند مثال واضحی برای این موضوع باشد.

دوم، عموم مردم باید در مورد مسایل زیست محیطی آگاه شده و در مورد آنها صحبت کنند. سازمان ملل متحد در سال 2016 طوماری حاوی 1.7 میلیون امضا را دریافت کرد که مردم طی آن خواستار توجه ویژه به دریاچه ارومیه شده بودند. فشار زیادی روی دوش ما بود. از این گونه حرکت های اجتماعی باید استقبال و و بر اساس آنها تلاش کنیم.  

سوم و در آخر مشکلات زیست محیطی به تنهایی حل نخواهند شد. در مورد دریاچه ارومیه دستگاه های دولتی و نهادهای عمومی راهبری فرایند را بعهده گرفتند، اقدامات با کمک جوامع محلی و بومی متاثر از موضوع اجرایی شد و در برخی موارد کمک های جامعه بین الملل (مانند حمایت های فنی دفتر توسعه ملل متحد و کمک های مالی دولت ژاپن) به حل این مشکل کمک بسیاری کرد. اتفاقی که در دریاچه ارومیه در حال وقوع است مثالی برای الهام گرفتن همه ماست. هم در داخل ایران و هم در خارج.



16 March 2017 - Lake Urmia comes back to life slowly but surely

By Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

Life has returned to the dying Salt Lake in North-West Iran.  The effort to restore what had been broken is succeeding. 

Returning to the barren landscape after almost four years, I was able to see water.  Not nearly enough, but much more than last time.  The lake is reviving.  And this revival is the result of an immensely successful collaborative effort involving many players – some Iranian, some foreign.

Lake Urmia was once Iran’s largest lake.  In its prime, it was the second largest saltwater lake in the world.  But years of man-made disruption – from the frenzy of 60 years of dam-building to the massive over-use of feeder rivers – had diverted the natural flow of sweet water from the surrounding basin into the salty lake.  As a result, it simply dried out.  It died at the hands of humans.

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I also remember thinking that if the lake dried up two main things would happen.  One is that salt from the dried lake bed would blow around and get dumped on farming land and crops in what essentially becomes a salt dustbowl in a fairly large radius around the lake.  Secondly, we could expect people to get sick.  For example, in the vicinity of the dried-out Aral Sea in Central Asia, we already see people afflicted with allergies and respiratory diseases including cancers. 

But there would be a third self-destructive phenomenon at play as well.  As farmers drilled ever-deeper to pump out the aquifers at the side of the lake for farming, over-exploitation of this groundwater surrounding the lake would cause saltwater seepage into those very same wells. This would hit people’s access to potable drinking water.  So we were threatened by a “perfect salt storm” affecting people’s health and livelihoods.

When our plane landed in Urmia two weeks ago, having taken the normal one hour to fly from Tehran, I wondered what I would see.  I had heard tell of an improvement.  But such stories often vanish in the face of requests to provide evidence.  I wanted to see for myself.

It was when we started to approach the vast open expanse of lake bed that I saw the morning sun glimmering off something which had not been there when last I travelled to the lake.

Water.  Not deep.  But enough to cover the salt dust granules which had caused such havoc before.  As we drove across the bridge which bisects the lake, the glimmering started to stretch out towards the rising sun.

And here are some of the pictures of that long and painful death I captured in October 2013.  

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Here is what we saw that morning.

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I must confess I was so happy that tears were welling up in my eyes.  The environmental problems we create can be fixed, I thought.  And here is how it happened. 

First, some numbers.

When lake Urmia was full, say 20 years ago, it was estimated to contain around 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water.  At the worst point, 3 to 4 years ago, it accounted for a mere 0.5 bcm of salt water.  The number now stands at 2.5 bcm.  The deadly decline has been reversed.  The amount of water now keeps increasing month on month. 

Because the amount of annual precipitation in terms of rain and snow in the basin has not changed appreciably in the last few years, we must look elsewhere for an explanation of why the lake is now filling up. 

There are three main reasons.  The first is engineering works to help unblock and un-silt the feeder rivers.  Second is the deliberate release of water from the dams in the surrounding hills.  Third, and most difficult of all to accomplish, has been a change in the way water management in the basin happens – especially among farmers.  Other approaches like banning illegal wells have also had an impact.

Here are some more numbers.  Three to four years ago, when the water level was at its worst, only 500 of Lake Urmia’s 5,000 square kilometer surface was covered by any water at all.  That figure has now risen to 2,300 square kilometers.  Admittedly, much of that water is spread extremely thin, and some tends to evaporate easily.  But it is there, offering a protective covering for the estimated 6 billion tons of salt and dust, which now no longer finds its way so easily into the air, into our eyes and lungs, and onto the farmers’ crops.

This third approach – better water management – took considerable time and effort to achieve.  But it appears here to stay.  While practicing new roles and partnership of local authorities and communities within LU restoration process, It took painstaking effort to get farmers to reconsider how they grow their crops by modifying their agricultural techniques when growing wheat, barley, rapeseed and fruit and vegetables. 

The new techniques are astonishingly simple: changing farm dimensions to make for smaller plots which retain water better; not using flooding as a form of irrigation, but rather trickle-irrigation which is targeted at the crops and thus not wasted; avoiding deep tillage which causes unnecessary water loss; introducing drought-resistant crop strains; ploughing plant residue back into the soil rather than burning it.

Across the board, in some cases the crop yield – despite using less water – has also increased by 40 per cent.

Here is a final reassuring set of numbers.  Considering the normal hydrological conditions, the lake has an average of 5.4 meters and Max. depth in northern part around 15 meters.  When the lake was at its worst point, the lake’s average level had dropped to almost zero.  When we compare the level of the lake taken now with what prevailed at exactly this time last year, we note a 6 centimeter rise.  The monthly increases have been incremental, but sustained.

The project which has brought about the improved water management is being implemented by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).  Based in West and East Azerbaijan provinces with a focus on Lake Urmia surrounding cities and villages, it works closely with local farmers, provincial and national governments and others to initiate an adaptation process by implementing the “ecosystem approach”. 

Following a 7 year project to introduce ecosystem approach for saving Lake Urmia ,  with the generous financial support from the Japanese government in recent years, as well as an inflow from the Iranian government’s own resources at both the national and provincial levels, these techniques have been successfully implemented in 90 villages.  But this number represents only about 10% of the irrigated farming area in the Urmia Basin.  Nonetheless, in the areas where the sustainable agriculture is being practiced, there is a water saving of about one-third of the water that would otherwise have been wasted under the old inefficient practices.  This saved water can flow back into the lake, thereby replenishing it.

UNDP’s interventions to save Iranian wetlands including Lake Urmia – starting 12 years ago, but intensifying significantly with the addition of 3 phases of Japanese funds – have focused on working with local farmers, cooperatives and government to support a new model of partnership among stakeholders and initiate an adaptation process by implementing sustainable agriculture techniques.  It has also advocated alternative livelihoods for women using micro-credit and biodiversity conservation. 

At present the project’s interventions cover sites all around the lake, and most affected, part of the lake basin.  To boost coverage from 10%, the plan is to move towards significant upscaling of this important initiative in an emblematic effort which is being recognized at an international level.

As I got on the plane to return home to Tehran in the evening, three takeaway lessons occurred to me. 

First, we face powerful environmental challenges in Iran.  But we can fix what we have broken.  And this is happening – right now – in Lake Urmia. 

Second, the public must educate itself and speak out on the environment.  The UN received a petition in 2016, containing 1.7 million signatures, requesting action on Lake Urmia.  The pressure has been relentless.  Such pressure must be welcomed and acted upon.

Third, in the final analysis, these environmental problems cannot be solved if we act alone.  The Lake Urmia response shows that it takes leadership by public authorities, acting in collaboration with the affected communities, and sometimes with support from the international community (technical support from UNDP and financial support from a partner like Japan) to do the trick.

What has happened in Lake Urmia is an example to inspire us all – both within and beyond Iran.

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