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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.



21 Sep 2017 - UNESCO Celebrates International Day of Peace

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In the evening of 20 September, UNESCO marked the International Day of Peace 2017 with a unique even at Azadi (freedom) Tower – one of Tehran’s most iconic landmarks.

The commemoration of Peace Day that was organized by the UNESCO Cluster Office in Tehran, Roudhaki Foundation, the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, and Day Sun Cultural Institute focused on this year’s global theme “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All”.

“ Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences, and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace, which is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission’’, said the Director and Representative of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Tehran, Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche in her opening remarks.

She cited, “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be built” from UNESCO’s constitution that was written by the founding Member States of UNESCO 72 years ago, and added that we needed to create solidarity among human kind, by fostering greater dialogue, understanding and trust between peoples.

She also underscored the role of education, sciences, culture and arts as important instruments for bring people closer together and building a culture of peace and stressed that music and arts have a unique way of transcending boundaries and connecting people around the world.

After the opening speeches, the audience watched a video mapping show directed by Mr. Amir Reza Salari, called “Thirty Birds of Peace”, which received a very enthusiastic response from the public that had gathered at Azadi square.

The Peace Day Celebration was attended by Governmental officials, foreign diplomats, representatives of UN agencies and NGOs, renowned Iranian artists and the general public.

The International Day of Peace ("Peace Day") is observed around the world each year on 21 September. This year’s theme honors the spirit of “Together for Peace”, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life.

To learn more about Peace Day, please see: http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/



20 Sep 017 - Message from Ms Irina Bokova

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University sport is very highly regarded in the world of sport and education. Fully integrated into the learning curriculum of the citizens of today and tomorrow, it represents a vital aspect of individuals’ development and fulfilment. The pedantic repetition of “Anima Sana in Corpore Sano / A Healthy Soul in a Healthy Body” is not enough to attain the ideal of harmony between body and soul. This maxim must be translated into specific public policies and practices in order to give it substance throughout people’s lives, starting at the youngest age. University sport is central to such measures: it nurtures a love for sport, gives it structure and allows champions to flourish, while passing on the values of an open mind, fair play, solidarity and excellence, which benefit society as a whole.

International Day of University Sport is an opportunity to underline the social role played by universities and their curricula, making sport available for everyone in order to foster the regular practice of a physical activity in the greatest number of people. It also allows UNESCO to reaffirm its committed support to personal and collective development through sport and education, for the spread of a genuine sports culture, which we believe inherent to a culture of peace. Those are the stated principles of the International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport and the International Convention against Doping in Sport. In this spirit, UNESCO is proud to support the International University Sports Federation and work together towards upholding a high-quality sporting environment so that all societies dare to dream faster, higher and stronger.




13 September 2017 - UNESCO and the Iranian Artists' Forum celebrate Peace Day

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On 13 September 2017, UNESCO kicked off a week of celebrations on the occasion of the International Day of Peace, with an event at the House of Artists in Tehran.

The event consisted of a series of short artistic performances, including poetry, music, film and theater.

Mr. Rajabi Memar, Director General of the Iranian Artists' Forum, welcomed the guests and talked about the important role of art for peace. "Art and artists must make all efforts to build peace", he said.
Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, talked about UNESCO's mission to create solidarity among human kind, by fostering greater dialogue, understanding and trust between peoples. "At UNESCO, we believe that education, sciences, culture and arts are all important tools to bring us closer together", she said.

"Music and arts have a unique way of transcending boundaries and connecting people around the world - and across generations, cultures and gender, in a very powerful and personal manner", stated Ms. Kuisch Laroche in her opening speech.

The International Day of Peace is celebrated globally, each year, on the 21st of September. This year, the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office will be marking this important day with a series of events organized by different partners.

For more information on the International Day of Peace, please visit:


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