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2 Nov 2017 - Two Iranian Projects win the 2017 Asia- Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation

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The Aftab Cultural House in Isfahan received the Honourable Mention Award and the Persian Gulf University in Bushehr won the Award for New Design in Heritage Contexts in the 2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

The Jury session of the award, consisting of nine international conservation experts, was convened during 9-11 August 2017 at UNESCO Bangkok. This year the Jury awarded one Award of Excellence, two Awards of Distinction, four Awards of Merit, six Honourable Mentions and three Award for New Design in Heritage Contexts. Sixteen projects from six countries – Australia, China, India, Iran, New Zealand, and Singapore – have been recognized in this year’s Heritage Awards among forty-three projects in total.

For Aftab Cultural House Project, the Jury stated that:

“The project has dramatically transformed a deserted Qajar-dynasty house used to shelter sheep into a popular cultural hub. Through private initiative, the project closely engaged the community throughout the conservation process. Traditional materials were used to repair the deteriorated adobe structure, with the visual highlight being the colourful mosaic of hand-made tiles adorning the roof and courtyard. Under an all-female management council, the building today houses a library, cafe and cultural venue. Modest in scale but with significant local impact, the Aftab Cultural House imaginatively demonstrates the viability of adapting heritage buildings to sustain and enhance cultural continuity.”

The Faculty of Arts and Architecture Project was the project submitted by the Persian Gulf University for which the jury stated that:

“The new Faculty of Art & Architecture building of the Persian Gulf University responds to an urban design challenge with a contextual solution that demonstrates a sound understanding of the vernacular architectural typology. Located at the edge of the historic district of Bushehr, the new building maintains continuity with the existing urban morphology, with its compatible scale, façade treatment and selection of materials. By configuring the building around landscaped courtyards, the project creates an oasis for the university community using traditional environmental management techniques. The new design maintains a distinctive but respectful presence vis-à-vis the restored historic “Nozari House” and other adjacent buildings. The project offers a noteworthy model for contemporary architecture that embodies the regional genius loci.”

The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation were set up to encourage and recognize the crucial role that the private sector plays in the long-term safeguarding of our region’s cultural heritage. The winning projects have set high technical and social standards for conservation in the region. They have increased local preservation efforts, inspiring local communities to take action to save their historic buildings.

Each year the winners receive the Award from different categories of “Award of Excellence”, “Award of Distinction”, “Award of Merit”, “Honourable Mention” and “Award for New Design in Heritage Contexts”.

The Award for New Design in Heritage Contexts is given to newly-built structures that demonstrate outstanding design well-integrated into historic contexts. The Award encourages submissions of completed new architecture and design that enrich the existing heritage setting. Building annexes, as well as new extensions, new buildings, new public spaces and new structures, such as bridges, are all eligible for consideration.

Five more Iranians won this prize: “Polsheer House” Djolfa, Isfahan (2002 Award of Merit); “Zargar-e-Yadzi House”, Yazd (2004 Honourable Mention); “Zain-ad-din Karavansara”, Yazd (2005 Honourable Mention); “Saryazd Citadel” Yazd (2014 Award of Distinction); Darugheh House (2016 Honourable Mention).

For more information about UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation please visit: http://bangkok.unesco.org/theme/asia-pacific-heritage-awards/



2 Nov 2017 - Jami' al-Tawarikh inscribed in UNESCO Memory of the World International Register

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Following a four-day meeting at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, during 24-27 October, 78 new nominations, including Jami-al Tawarikh from Iran, were inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World International Register. Three additions were made to existing inscriptions and provisional inscription were granted for two items pending confirmation of minor points.

Under the Chairmanship of Dr. Abdulla Alraisi, Director-General of the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates, and composed of 14 eminent experts, the International Advisory Committee (IAC) of UNESCO's Memory of the World (MoW) Programme examined and evaluated new items of documentary heritage proposed by countries from across the world, following a two-year process as part of the 2016-2017 nomination cycle.

The full list of recommended nominations can be accessed from:  https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/mow_recommended_nominations_list_2016-2017.pdf



27 Oct 2017 - Iran celebrates UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

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On 27 October 2017, the National Library and Archives Organization of Iran organized an event in Tehran to mark the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. This event was supported by the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, and Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO).

The celebration commenced with the playing of the oldest sound recording of Qur’an.

Dr Ashraf Boroujerdi, Head of the National Library and Archives of Iran, formally opened the event by welcoming all Iranian and international guests. In her remarks, Dr Boroujerdi underscored that “the 27th of October is an opportunity to increase general knowledge about the importance of audiovisual heritage and the need to take immediate action in this field to preserve the collective memory of humanity.”

Concurrently the Head of the National Committee for the Memory of the World (MoW), Dr Boroujerdi stressed that in addition to focusing on preserving documentary heritage, the Committee will also prioritize the preservation of the rich audiovisual heritage and the introduction of new items in Iran. The Committee intends to do this through the identification and registration of items in both national and international registers, as well as through the facilitation of access to these heritage items.

Representing the Director and Representative of UNESCO, Ms Niloofar Sadeghi thanked the Iran National Library and Archives Organization for their significant contribution towards the UNESCO MoW Programme and applauded the Organization’s efforts to spearhead the annual celebration of the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. Ms Sadeghi delivered the UNESCO Director General’s message, highlighting the theme of this year’s celebration: “Discover, remember, and share.”

In his remarks, Dr Mohammad Beheshti, Head of the Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Tourism, stated that “amnesia” is the most serious disease threatening our culture. Dr Beheshti observed that “this is evident in many societies nowadays, and one way to cure this disease is to ‘remember’ through the power of audiovisual heritage.” He lamented that while existing audiovisual heritage draws attention to the near past, there are no documents preserved from the distant past. 

In the next part of the programme, Dr Mohammad Hassan Semsar, a member of the National Committee for the MoW, presented the rich audiovisual resources in Golestan Palace which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Dr Semsar highlighted the long history of using audiovisual resources in Iran, including illustrated books, photography, film, and phonographs. He suggested that a number of particularly old photographs taken by Iranian photographers and globetrotters could be used to restore historical sites like Sosa and Persepolis.

The methodology and notation system of renowned Iranian pianist and composer Morteza Mahjoubi were also presented through a live piano performance. Mahjoubi’s piano notes are registered on the Iranian National MoW Register.

To conclude the event, the Certificate of Registration of the piano score of Morteza Mahjoubi was unveiled and handed over by Dr Boroujerdi to the Mahjoubi family.

As a side event, the Memory of the World Photo Exhibition was inaugurated. The photo exhibition included photos of 50 items registered on the UNESCO MoW Programme.


22 Oct 2017 - UNESCO and ECO co-organize Regional Workshop

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“Overall, annual economic losses from disasters represent between USD 250 billion and USD 300 billion, according to UNISDR. Studies of disaster trends and the likely consequences of climate change suggest that each year 175 million children will be affected by natural hazard-related disasters alone” - Ms. Kuisch Laroche, Director of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office

UNESCO and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Secretariat have partnered together to organize a regional workshop promoting safety at the school level. The workshop runs for three days in Tehran from 22 to 24 October 2017. 

ECO is an intergovernmental regional organization composed of ten Member States from Europe, Caucasia, Central Asia, Middle East, and South Asia. The overall objective of the Organization is the sustainable economic development of its Member States and the ECO region as a whole.

The workshop brings together representatives from ECO Member States Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Pakistan. Representing ministries of education and national disaster management agencies, these national experts were invited to deliver presentations on the current state of school safety and disaster risk reduction (DRR) education in their respective countries.

Various Iranian education and DRR experts are also participating in the workshop, representing the National Disaster Management Organization, the Ministry of Education, the International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology, the UNESCO Chair on National Disaster Management, the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, as well as UN agencies UNICEF and UN-Habitat.

In order to support different countries in the development and implementation of concrete action plans for safer schools, UNESCO, together with other major UN agencies and non-governmental organizations committed to disaster risk reduction, joined the Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector or GADRRRES.

The Alliance, which UNESCO co-chairs while also hosting the Secretariat, promotes a comprehensive approach to DRR education based on three overlapping areas of focus: Safe School Facilities, School Disaster Management, and Risk Reduction and Resilience Education. GADRRRES promotes a comprehensive approach to DRR education through the Comprehensive School Safety Framework.  This approach is based on education policy, plans, and programmes that are aligned with disaster management at national, regional, district and local school site levels.

Moreover, UNISDR  has coordinated the development of a Worldwide Initiative for Safe Schools or WISS. The Initiative focuses on motivating and supporting Governments to develop national strategies and implement school safety.  It was launched in the framework of the Sendai Conference in 2015 and has resulted in the political commitment of 21 “Safe School Leader” countries – including a number of ECO Member States – to implement school safety on the ground.

The regional workshop builds on the outcomes of the Second Safe School Leaders Meeting which also took place in Tehran in October 2015.

In her remarks, UNESCO Director and Representative Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche stressed    that “without safe schools, learning and teaching will be disrupted in the aftermath of a disaster, often causing children to roam around in the streets where they may be more exposed to abuse, exploitation and separation from their families in the chaotic post-disaster situation. Or causing them to lose an entire school year, as they cannot catch up on the weeks or months spent out of school”.

Dr. Seyed Jalaledin Alavi Sabzevari, Deputy Secretary General of ECO, briefed participants on ECO post-Sendai activities in the field of DRR and school safety, focusing in particular on the ECO Regional Framework on DRR. The framework was recently finalized in in Ankara, Turkey. Mr. Alavi expressed hope that the lessons learnt from the workshop would help the ECO Secretariat in the implementation of the of the ECO DRR Regional Framework.

Dr. Ali Shahri, Deputy Head of the Organization for the Development, Renovation and Equipping of Schools, Iranian Ministry of Education, likewise highlighted the importance of safe schools “as students are the most important human resources for building a sustainable future for the country. In this regard, in 2005, Iran’s Parliament allocated four million dollars to retrofit and renovate 9,500 schools. An additional three million dollars was allocated in 2016 for school renovation projects to be implemented from 2017 to 2022. Moreover, charity organizations and the private sector contributed over 400 million dollars in 2014 alone for the retrofitting of schools in Iran.”

Mr. Siamak Moghaddam, Representative and Chief of UN-Habitat Tehran, underscored that “schools do not only serve students during the earthquakes or other disasters, but they can also act as a temporary shelter for communities. Although building codes and regulations are sufficiently being met in many countries, implementation might have overshadowed the importance of the quality aspects in the midst of a huge rush toward quantity. According to “New Urban Agenda”, which sets a new global standard for sustainable urban development, DRR and resilient cities can be achievable.“ 

Aside from experience sharing among the ECO Member States, the workshop will feature practical training sessions led by DRR experts from ECO and UNESCO, Mr. Mahmudul Islam and Ms. Margherita Fanchiotti. The training sessions will focus on topics such as the integration of DRR in public education sector planning, and disaster resilient citizenry through education and capacity building. Ms Fanchiotti, from UNESCO headquarters in Paris, will also provide training on the UNESCO Visual Inspection for Defining the Safety Upgrading Strategies or VISUS, which is a safety assessment methodology that facilitates the decision-making process in the definition of upgrading strategies.

Day 3 of the workshop will involve visits to retrofitted schools, as well as a tour of the premises of the International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology.

For further information on UNESCO’s work on school safety and DRR, please visit: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/special-themes/disaster-risk-reduction/school-safety/.



16 Oct 2017 - Korean Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport attends UNESCO Strategic Partnership Meeting in Tehran

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Today, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, together with the Association of Korean Enterprises in Iran, held a joint event, entitled: “Strategic Partnership Meeting: Fostering Cooperation in UNESCO’s Fields of Competence”.The purpose of the meeting was to present UNESCO’s activities to the Korean private sector, as well as representatives of embassies and other foreign companies based in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Through its programmes, UNESCO continues to make a positive impact in Iran in different areas, such as protecting cultural heritage, enhancing quality education, promoting science for a sustainable future, strengthening a knowledge society, and fostering a culture of peace through inter-cultural dialogue”, said H.E. Kim Seung-Ho, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Iran. “This is why we decided to organize this meeting and encourage cooperation between UNESCO and Korea’s companies in Iran”.

The meeting was attended by H.E. Ms. Kim Hyun Mee, Korea’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. “The Government of Korea hopes for the Korean companies in Iran -as responsible members of the Iranian society- to play an effective role in developing cultural and social activities. UNESCO implements diverse activities in Iran and I trust that with the collaboration of UNESCO, Korean companies will also become very effective in their social engagement with the country”, said the Minister.

Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, underscored the strong, historical relationship between UNESCO and the Republic of Korea and thanked the embassy for having co-organized the meeting to foster new partnerships with the Korean private sector in Iran.

She provided an overview of UNESCO’s activities and highlighted some of the achievements of the office at the national and sub-regional level.

Mr. Shanta Retnasingam, Chief of Section for Mobilising Resources from Multilateral & Private Partners in UNESCO HQ in Paris, spoke about UNESCO’s principles for partnership with the private sector. “Before we begin any project we always abide by the following principles: beneficiary buy in and full support from the host country, sustainability of the project, ensuring that there is a multiplier effect, donor satisfaction, transparency in implementation, continuous monitoring during implementation, timely reporting and evaluation following the completion of the project”, said Mr. Retnasingam

The opening ceremony was followed by five panel discussions in which UNESCO’s main governmental and non-governmental partners gave presentations about their work and UNESCO’ support to them. Speakers included representatives from the Literacy Movement Organization; Ministry of Energy; Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization; Department of Environment; Iranian National Committee on Physical Education and Sports; IRNA; Parvaz Film Festival; and UNESCO-affiliated research and training centers in Iran.

To learn more about UNESCO’s activities in Iran, please see: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/tehran



3 Oct 2017 - UNESCO holds three-day International Expert Meeting

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Yazd- 3 October 2017, The UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office and the International Centre on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures (ICQHS) kicked off a three-day international expert meeting in Yazd, Iran, about Climate Change Adaptation and Indigenous Knowledge of Water Management.

The meeting brought together imminent scientists from France, Germany, Iran, Kenya, Pakistan and Switzerland, as well as Iranian NGO representatives of indigenous communities from Shahsevan in Ardebil; Bakhtiari tribe; central desert tribes, including Abolhassani, Chodari, Rezaabad and Torout; Bafgh camel herders; marine and coastal communities from Qeshm island; and Baloch tribes. Small-scale farmers from Fars province were also present.

“There is no permanent river in Yazd province, also seasonal rivers have dried up. Therefore, we rely on groundwater, which is a limited resource and its table is going down. Considering the rich water management traditions passed on by our ancestors, we along with UNESCO have decided to hold this expert meeting to learn from existing indigenous knowledge”, mentioned Mr. Ghafori, the acting Director of ICQHS.

Ms. Esther Kuisch-Laroche, the Director of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Tehran, stated that UNESCO’s Climate Change Policy makes explicit reference to local and indigenous knowledge systems, including local-level climate observations, understanding strategies devised by local communities to cope with changing environments, and identifying needs and ensuring the relevance of adaptation measures for vulnerable populations in remote areas such as small islands, high altitudes, humid tropics and the circumpolar North.

“Understanding indigenous knowledge of nature and the sustainable use of natural resources, long-term observations of environmental change, and community-based strategies for resilience, are essential in the face of increasingly extreme weather events, droughts, floods, and unsustainable use of natural resources around the world”, said the UNESCO Representative. “Traditional knowledge systems, many of them embedded in a remarkable diversity of cultures and sustaining a broad spectrum of ways of life, constitute a rich and diverse intellectual heritage, whose importance for attaining international development objectives, including the Sustainable Development Goals, should not be underestimated”.

Dr. Nejadkourgi of Yazd University stated that Yazd is a true example of adaptability. The materials used in construction, the innovative cooling system used in wind towers, the qanats system to transport water, are all systems that should inspire us to devise adaptation strategies that are compatible with the local environment.

During the first two days of the meeting, experiences from local practices in Ghana, India, Kenya, Pakistan were shared with the participants. Ms. Niloofar Sadeghi, Programme Officer for Natural Sciences at the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, provided an overview of UNESCO’s policies and initiatives to incorporate indigenous knowledge in climate change assessment and adaptation.

The indigenous communities coming from across Iran also shared their observations about the changing climate and their innovative measures to adapt to the climate change. 

The meeting will run from 3 to 5 October 2017 in the historic city of Yazd. On the final day of the meeting, the participants will be visiting Hassanabad-Moshir Qanat and Pahlavanpour garden in the city of Mehriz.

The Persian Qanats and the historical city of Yazd have both registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.


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