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3 December 2016 - UNESCO supports International Conference on Water and Environment in the New Millennium: Education and Capacity Building at University of Tehran

Tehran 3 December 2016- The UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office supported the University of Tehran in holding the “International Conference on Water and Environment in the New Millennium: Education and Capacity Building”. The three-day conference was a joint effort of the University of Tehran, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and UNESCO. Over 200 participants from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Iran, Japan, the Netherlands, Pakistan and the United States attended the opening ceremony on the 3rd of December.

Dr. Hamid Pezeshk, Secretary of the Conference, informed the audience in his welcoming remarks that there would be 60 oral presentations during the conference, six round table discussions and 12 thematic workshops.

Dr. Nasiri-Gheidari, Secretary-General of Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, talked about UNESCO’s “environmental family” in Iran, which include three water-related training and research centers under the auspices of UNESCO, two UNESCO Chairs, and 12 Biosphere Reserve sites. He emphasized the need to create greater synergies between the different programs and institutions working in the field of water.

The Director of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Dr. Frens Stoeckal, said that water was at the top of the agenda of the Ministry of Education of Germany and he expressed the hope that the conference would also explore new techniques in water education.

Mr. Rahim Meydani, Deputy Minister of Energy for Water and Wastewater Affairs said: “We should face the reality that we don’t receive much precipitation and 75% of the precipitation falls in only 25% of the country”. He then informed that the Government has envisaged a long-term program to reduce the share of agricultural water to 69% from the present 86%. The Deputy Minister of Energy recalled three main measures of the government to achieve sustainable water resource management: i) restoration and balancing of the groundwater resources, ii) coordination council of major river catchments of the country, and iii) calculating the available renewable water by taking into account the environmental water need. 

The two final keynote speakers of the opening of the Conference were Dr. Blanca Jimenez-Cisneros, Director/Secretary of UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP), and Prof. Mahmoud Nili-Ahmadabadi, Chancellor of the University of Tehran.

Dr. Jimenez-Cisneros reviewed the evolution of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) since the 1970s and the change from a purely research program to a global scientific intergovernmental programme. She also introduced the HOPE initiative recently developed by UNESCO IHP, which provides free access to an open software platform, and she invited Iran to contribute to this platform.

Dr Nili-Ahmadabadi welcomed all participants of the Conference and mentioned that Tehran University has developed a new vision to become an internationally recognized university. He said that 15 research institutions have been established under the University of Tehran with various universities. And expressed the hope that the new water education institute, recently established with the support of UNESCO at Tehran University, would pave the way for advancing water education across the region.

In the afternoon of the first day of the Conference, UNESCO organized a roundtable discussion on “Water and Media” with the participation of Prof. Jennifer Bowls from the United States and Prof. Elisabeth Miller from Canada.

The conference will continue until 5 December with technical workshops on the Sustainable Development Goals, droughts and water management in arid zones, the role of higher education institutions, groundwater management, transboundary water management, water markets and virtual waters.

UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) is the only intergovernmental programme of the UN system devoted to water research, water resources management, and education and capacity building. For more information about UNESCO-IHP, please visit here: http://en.unesco.org/themes/water-security/hydrology/water-education


21 November 2016 - UNESCO organizes three-day workshop on Underwater Archeology in Kong Port, Hormozgan Province

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On 21 November 2016, UNESCO in cooperation with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) kicked off a three-day training workshop on underwater archeology with a focus on the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.

The workshop focuses on the 2001 Convention and seeks to clarify what Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH) actually is, what maritime archeologists do and how to preserve UCH.

The mayor of Kong opened the workshop by talking about the historical importance of his port city as a crossroads of merchants and tradespeople from different continents. He welcomed the workshop and expressed the hope that it would create greater awareness of the rich cultural heritage of the city – both on land and under water.

Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office mentioned in her speech that Iran had ratified the 2001 Convention in the year 2009. “This Convention is very important, but unfortunately there is still limited awareness amongst many Member States in this region about the Convention and its means of implementation”, she said.

The UNESCO Representative also introduced the 2001 Convention and said that there are probably thousands of shipwrecks in the Persian Gulf, due to the many trade routes that passed through there. “This underwater heritage has a huge potential and importance, not only for scientific research and education, but also for urban development, economic sustainable development and tourism”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.

The workshop is facilitated by three renowned experts: Ms. Athena Trakadas, Mr. John Cooper and Mr. Matthew Harpster, who will train the participants on in situ preservation, survey and monitoring techniques, excavation, and will go through the different stages of field project design and risk assessment.

For more information about underwater cultural heritage and the 2001 UNESCO Convention, please see: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/underwater-cultural-heritage/2001-convention/



10 November 2016 - UNESCO celebrates 2016 World Science Day at Tehran University

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On 10 November 2016 UNESCO, in partnership with the Iranian Association for the Popularization of Sciences and the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, held a gathering at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Tehran to mark the 2016 World Science Day for Peace and Development.

The theme for this year was “Celebrating Science Centers and Science Museums.”  A large group of scholars, government officials, students, representatives of embassies, and individuals active in popularizing sciences attended the event, which focused on the importance of the popularization of sciences.

Dr. Akram Ghadimi, Head of the Iranian Association for the Popularization of Sciences opened the event by saying that “any activity that educates the public on sciences and strengthens people’s faith in sciences is referred to as popularization of sciences”. She reviewed how the popularization of sciences can bridge gaps between people and promote advances in sciences.

Dr. Mostafa Moein, former Minister of Science and current Head of the Group of Activists for Popularizing Sciences, reviewed the process that started in the early 1990s and led to the designation by UNESCO of 10 November as the World Science Day for Peace and Development. He emphasized the need for strong policies to enable the popularization of sciences at different levels of society.

Deputy Minister of Science in Research Affairs, Dr Vahid Ahmadi, referred to new global approaches in education and research, and highlighted the need to adopt policies to encourage youth to pursue science and research.  

Dr. Sadollah Nasiri-Gheidari, Secretary General of Iran National Commission for UNESCO, stressed the important role of science for peace and sustainable development. 

Ms. Niloofar Sadeghi of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office read out the message of UNESCO’s Director-General, Ms. Irina Bokova, on the occasion of World Science Day 2016. “Science stands at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Action, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. These agreements embody a new vision for prosperity, peace and the planet, to allow every society to create and share knowledge, to nurture every source of innovation and creativity, to craft a more inclusive, sustainable and just path to the future. Taking this forward calls for an ever greater expansion of science and for tighter linkages between science and society”, she said.

The final speaker was Prof. Reza Davari-Ardakani, Chair of Iran Academy of Sciences. He emphasized the important role of scientists and their responsibility in the modern world.  

In 2001, UNESCO established the World Science Day for Peace and Development in order to develop bridges between science and society. The aim of this day is to ensure that citizens are kept informed of developments in science, while underscoring the role scientists play in broadening our understanding of the remarkable, fragile planet we call home and in making our societies more sustainable. 

For more information about World Science Day celebrations around the world, please see: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/world_science_day#.WCVPpxTUTFI



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:



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