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5 November 2016 - UNESCO organizes three-day training workshop on Transboundary Aquifers

On 5 November 2016, water authorities from different provinces of Iran gathered together at Safayihe Hotel in Yazd to start a three-day training workshop on “Technical and Legal Principles and Concepts of Transboundary Aquifers” - the first of its kind.

The workshop is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Energy of Iran, the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, and the International Center on Qantas and Historic Hydraulic Structures (ICQHS). The training is aimed at addressing the challenges of managing transboundary aquifers, using international water conventions.  

The opening ceremony was attended by Mr. Rahim Meydani, Deputy Ministry of Energy for Water Affairs, Dr. Mohammad Hassan Talebian, Deputy Head of the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), Mr. Jabbar Vatanfada, Director-General of the Bureau of Transboundary Waters at the Ministry of Energy, Dr. Ali Asghar Semsar-Yazdi, Senior Advisor of ICQHS, and two international lecturers Dr. Raya Marian Stephan and Dr. Alistair Rieu-Clarke.

After welcoming remarks by ICQHS, Mr. Jabbar Vatan Fada of the Ministry of Energy, mentioned that the workshop had three main objectives: training Iranian experts and authorities on the international conventions on shared water bodies and shared aquifers; sharing the global experience in shared aquifers with Iranian experts and authorities; and applying global knowledge and experience to the local context, particularly in the selected Pilot Project.

Ms. Niloofar Sadeghi of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office welcomed the participants and resource persons. She then introduced the instructors of the training course, Dr. Raya Marina Stephan and Dr. Alistair Rieu-Clarke. She also emphasized the importance of the pilot aquifer between Yazd and Fars provinces, which would be discussed in detail during the three days of the workshop. Ms. Sadeghi said that the results of the pilot project as well as the final report of the training would also be useful for other UNESCO Member States.

Dr. Alexandros Makarigakis, UNESCO Program Specialist on Water for Human Settlements was the next speaker. Stating the urgency and gravity of the water situation around the world, Dr. Makarigakis indicated how water was a critical indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals. Currently about 2 billion people worldwide depend on groundwater, which includes approximately 300 transboundary aquifers. This situation requires cooperation between countries to save the ecosystem. He also briefly described UNESCO’s current projects in the field of transboundary aquifers and shared first-hand experiences from other parts of the world. He demonstrated how transboundary aquifers link populations of different countries and regions and have the potential to support the income and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

The final speaker was Mr. Rahim Meydani, Deputy Ministry of Energy for Water Affairs. In congruence with Dr Makarigakis remarks, he stated that we were faced with scarcity of water resources and bound to learn to efficiently manage our limited resources.  

For three days the participants will work closely with international lecturers to learn about the technicalities of international conventions. The workshop will continue until 7 November 2016 and will conclude with a field visit to Hasan Abad-e Moshir and Bagh Pahlevanpoor Qanat in city of Mehriz. 



24 October 2016 - International conference on “Water and Environment in the New Millennium: Education and Capacity Building”

Water education and capacity building are considered as the main keys in today’s most pressing water challenges. They are also among the most important elements of strategies for sustainable development. Good water governance in a changing environment needs skilled and capable water scientists (hydrologist), engineers and managers.

More than ever, we need professional water experts capable of identifying and formulating challenging issues in water supply and demand management, in addressing ecosystem needs, and in adapting to climate variability. Water education must go beyond the teaching of hydrological sciences, and be both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. This approach would include advancing scientific knowledge through the training of scientists as well as increasing knowledge on water issues through courses aimed at water professionals and decision-makers.

Water education should also reach out to media professionals so that they can communicate water issues accurately and effectively. The work will include community education strategies to promote communitywide water conservation, as well as enhance skills in local co-management of water resources.

In its eighth phase, 2014-2012, the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme has a special theme dedicated to water education. In this connection, UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office is supporting University of Tehran to organize the International Conference on “Water and Environment in the New Millennium: Education and Capacity Building” in Tehran from 3 to 5 December 2016.

The conference will be opened by Ms. Esther Kuisch-Laroche, the Director of UNESCO Tehran. Dr Blanca Jimenes-Cisneros, the secretary of UNESCO IHP and Director of Water Division at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris will address the closing of the Conference.

UNESCO Tehran in collaboration with RCUWM-Tehran and Iran National Commission for UNESCO will hold a special round table on “Water Journalism” in the first day of the Conference. This will be followed by a three days training workshop for journalism educators from Afghanistan, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan and Turkmenistan by the instructors of the round table. The training workshop will be held at the Iran Water Management Company and will cover the UNESCO model curricula for reporting on climate change and water management, 4-6 December.  

The Conference provides a platform for sharing of experience among individuals and representatives from institutions and international organizations active in the field of water and environment education and capacity building. 



10 October 2016 - UNESCO and IRNA sign MoU for joint cooperation

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On 10 October 2016, UNESCO signed a memorandum of understanding with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). According to the agreement, UNESCO and IRNA will develop joint activities such as capacity-building workshops for journalists and media professionals, as well as events related to media literacy of the public. The MoU was signed by Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, and Mr. Mohammad Khoddadi, Managing Director of IRNA.

During the signing ceremony, which took place at IRNA Headquarters in Tehran, both sides pointed out the crucial role of the media in today’s world and the importance of having informed and knowledgeable journalists to raise public awareness on matters relating to sustainable development and the promotion of a culture of peace.

As the United Nations agency with a specific mandate to promote “the free flow of ideas by word and image”, UNESCO works to foster free, independent and pluralistic media in print, broadcast and online, based on professional ethics. UNESCO believes that media development in this mode enhances freedom of expression and contributes to peace, sustainability, poverty eradication and human rights.

For more information about UNESCO’s Communication & Information Programme, please see:




1 October 2016 - 7th International Conference on Integrated Disaster Risk Management takes places in Isfahan

On 1 October 2016, the 7th International Conference on Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRiM 2016) kicked off in the city of Isfahan. The theme for this year’s conference is “Disasters and Development: Towards a Risk Aware Society”.
The three-day conference is co-organized by the International Earthquake Engineering Association (IEEA) and the Integrated Disaster Risk Management Society (IDRiM). UNESCO was one of the co-sponsors of the conference.
Professor Mohsen Ashtiany opened the conference by underlining the importance of the involvement of all parts of society- not just the Government- in disaster risk reduction. He also emphasized the need to move from scientific knowledge to actual implementation and action.
Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, congratulated the organizers for focusing on the important topic of creating a risk aware society, which she said was very much in line with the global objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sendai Framework of Action for Disaster Risk Reduction.
“I would like to underscore that there is no such thing as a natural disaster. There are only natural hazards, such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, cyclones, etc. A disaster's severity depends on how much impact a hazard has on society and the environment.  And the scale of that impact depends on the choices we, as humans, make for our lives and for our environment. These choices relate to how we grow our food, where and how we build our homes, what kind of government we have, how our financial system works and even what we teach in schools. Each decision and action makes us more vulnerable to disasters - or more resilient to them. And therefore, disaster risk reduction is all about awareness and making the right choices”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.
The UNESCO Representative talked about the Sendai Framework and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and UNESCO’s actions in support of disaster risk reduction through its programmes in Education, Culture, Sciences and Communication & Information.
Other speakers in the opening ceremony included the Governor General of Isfahan province; the mayor of Isfahan city; Mr. Mahmoodi, acting Minister of Energy; Dr. Hemmati, President of the Central Insurance Organisation, and professor Kabat of IIASA.
The opening ceremony was followed by a high-level panel on socio-economic needs for DRR and a series of technical panel discussions on different topics, including: building code implementation; water; public health; risk communication; and economic analyses of disaster risk reduction.
The conference will conclude on 3 October and will include a half-day session for young scientists.
For more information about IDRiM 2016, please see: www.idrim2016.com



28 September 2016 - Iran celebrates the International Day of Universal Access to Information

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2016 is the first year of UNESCO marking 28 September as the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI).  On 17 November 2015, UNESCO Member States adopted a resolution (38 C/70) declaring 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).
More than 20 countries are commemorating this very first #AccessToInfoDay by organizing conferences and public activities to discuss and raise awareness about freedom of information, promotion of open access and the importance of adopting right to information laws, among some of the relevant topics.
The Islamic Republic of Iran marked the occasion on the 2nd of October by organizing a celebration at the Bureau of Media Studies and Planning in Tehran.
Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office delivered UNESCO’s message at the opening of the event: “Over two thousand years ago, Artistotle wrote: “All human beings by nature desire to know”. To know requires having access to information – this fundamental human right is part of what makes us human. It is essential for inclusion and dialogue; it is a foundation for the rule of law and good governance; and it is vital for crafting new paths to sustainable development. This is the message of the first International Day for Universal Access to Information, and this is why access to information is a key driver for taking forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to promote human rights and dignity, to eradicate poverty, and to build inclusive knowledge societies”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.
She went on to say that UNESCO believes that knowledge societies must be built on four pillars: freedom of expression; universal access to information and knowledge; respect for cultural and linguistic diversity; and quality education for all. “UNESCO’s thrust to create knowledge societies is premised on the conviction that universal access to information is key to building peace, sustainable economic development, and intercultural dialogue”, said the UNESCO Representative. “Equal and universal access to information is a powerful engine for positive change. It widens opportunities to overcome inequalities, to reach the marginalized, to create and share knowledge, to discover other cultures, and to strengthen the foundations of democratic institutions.”
Dr. Nasiri, Secretary-General of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, underscored the importance of universal access to information and scientific knowledge and mentioned that the Islamic Republic of Iran was committed to reaching the sustainable development goals and ensuring access to quality education for all.
Other speakers included Dr. Hossein Entezami, Deputy of Press Affairs of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance; Mr. Mahmoudi, Advisor of the Organization of Technology and Information; Ms. Mohebhosseini, Head of the Education Department in the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO; Dr. Namakdoost Tehrani, Head of the Center of Education and Research at Hamshahri and and Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Forghani, Professor of Allame Tabatabei University.
For more information about the International Day for Universal Access to Information, please see: http://en.unesco.org/iduai2016


27 September 2016 - Iran celebrates World Tourism Day

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On 26 September 2016, the Islamic Republic of Iran celebrated World Tourism Day with a conference in the IRIB International Conference Center in Tehran.

The conference was organized by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTHO) and attended by H.E. Dr. Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, many high-ranking Government officials, foreign ambassadors, heads of international organisations, and tourism professionals.

During the opening ceremony, H.E. Dr. Soltanifar, Vice-President and Head of ICHTO talked about the Government’s strategies and objectives in tourism and the achievements made to date.

H.E. President Rouhani then addressed the audience and emphasized the important role of tourism in sustainable development. He highlighted in particular the opportunities for job creation for young people in the tourism industry. The President also talked about Iran’s many cultural, historical and natural attractions, as well as the holy shrines and sites linked to historical and political events that have taken place in the country (such as the Islamic revolution and the Iran-Iraq war), which could all be of interest for domestic and foreign tourists. While addressing the limitations and challenges that had to be overcome in order to expand tourism in Iran, the President mentioned that the Iranian culture of hospitality was an important factor in attracting foreign tourists. He said that all foreigners who visit the country leave with happy memories of the kindness and hospitality they have experienced during their stay, and that this also played an important role in public diplomacy and changing the image of Iran abroad.

During the opening ceremony, the President and Vice-President Soltanifar also presented awards of appreciation to individuals who have played an important role in the development of tourism in Iran.

World Tourism Day has been celebrated each year on 27 September, since 1980. This date was chosen as on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the UN World Tourism Organization were adopted. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide. The celebration also seeks to highlight tourism’s potential to contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The theme for 2016 is Tourism for All! Accessible Tourism for all is about the creation of environments that can cater for the needs of all, whether we are traveling or staying at home. May that be due to a disability, even temporary, families with small children, or the ageing population, at some point in our lives, sooner or later, we all benefit of universal accessibility in tourism.

Therefore, this year’s celebration is focused on the right for all of the world’s citizens to experience the incredible diversity of our planet and the beauty of the world we live in.

#tourism4all #WTD2016


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