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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



20 September 2016 - One step forward to practically understand the International Water Laws

Transboundary shared waters are vital sources of fresh water supply for many regions of the world especially in arid and semi-arid countries where transboundary waters are top on their agenda of regional negotiations and diplomacy.

Being aware of the necessity of sustainable solutions to either impending or ongoing challenges over the shared waters, many international efforts took place in order to improve cooperation between countries in terms of sustainable development and effective management of transboundary waters. There have been lots of valuable experience in which the riparian states of a transboundary river have seek to identify the shared waters and also threats and opportunities in their management, to document the success stories, to support relevant foundations, mechanisms and capacity building, in order to replace conflict and competition with consensus, mutual understanding and cooperation.

For the past decades, the international community has been involved in a process of identifying and establishing legal rules to provide equitable and reasonable mechanisms for riparian states to manage their shared resources. There are a number of international water conventions including the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention, 1992 UNECE Water Convention and the 2008 draft of the International Law for transboundary aquifers. UNESCO is one of the key global players in documenting best practices from around the globe and also strengthening management of transboundary aquifers.    

On the initiative of the I.R of Iran, a unique pilot study has been designed and is going to be taken to examine “the Applicability of the UN Transboundary Water Law to a local shared aquifer in Iran”. Proposed by Iran's Ministry of Energy, and then supported by UNESCO, this project will apply the draft of the 2008 UN Convention on transboundary aquifers across an aquifer shared by two provinces within Iran. With the long history of Iran's experience in transboundary water cooperation, it is expected that the result of this project would help to better understand the international water laws and their limitations. As noted by Mr Vatanfada, Director General of Transboundary Rivers and Shared Water Resources Bureau and the one who proposed the idea, "this real case could be one step forward for all countries to practically understand the benefits of International Water Laws to strengthen cooperation on transboundary waters".

In this connection, a three days training workshop will be held in Yazd, Iran, from 5 to 7 November 2016 where two renowned UNESCO experts will review the international water conventions. Moreover the training will have real-case scenarios arising from the case study.

The case study is going to look into a candidate aquifer shared between the provinces of Yazd and Fars where some disputes over transboundary aquifers broke out a few years ago which are now settled. In this case many political and legal complications have already been solved, but still some other problems exist including: how to establish a stable collaboration between authorities of the two provinces, how to mitigate social tensions and improve cooperation between beneficiaries across the provincial borders, and how to encourage peaceful exploitation of shared water resources.



Ministry of Energy of the I.R. Iran: Mohsen Nagheeby, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

UNESCO Tehran: Niloofar Sadeghi, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



19 September 2016 - UNESCO celebrates International Day of University Sports

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In 2015, the International University Sports Federation (FISU) proposed to UNESCO to internationally recognize a day dedicated to university sport. The proposal was endorsed by UNESCO’s Member States at the 38th session of the General Conference in Paris in November 2015, and 20 September was declared the International Day of University Sport. This date coincides in most countries around the world with the beginning of the academic year, and it is also the date of the first Student World Championships in 1924.
The University of Tehran marked the very first celebration of this International Day with an event co-organized with the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology.
Prior to the ceremony, all participants – including the Dean of the University of Tehran, several high-level government officials, the Secretary-General of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, the Director of UNESCO’s Cluster Office, and many university students - were invited to walk around the university grounds to promote the importance of regular exercise.
Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, delivered a message of UNESCO’s Director-General, Ms. Irina Bokovo, for this special occasion.
“Dialogue, self-respect and respect for others, fair play and pursuit of excellence are all framing principles of student training. Education and sport need to be at the core of our societies, and this Day provides a forum to highlight the social role of universities and their curricula by making sport available to all and encouraging people to exercise regularly”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.
By devoting one day a year to universities and sport for citizens, the International University Sports Federation (FISU), made up of 167 national university sport federations representing several hundred higher education establishments, aims to draw attention to the key role universities can and must play in order to rise to the challenges of the day, in terms of the acquisition and transmission of knowledge as well as, and above all, social and economic policy at the local, national and international levels.
FISU, thanks to its network of university associations and clubs and the partnerships that it has developed with the principal international educational, cultural and sport institutions since 1949, will mobilize the academic world for this day every 20 September.
For more information, please see: http://www.fisu.net/en/International-Day-of-University-Sport-and-FISU-Festival-4406.html



10 September 2016 - UNESCO implements three-day training on Sustainable Tourism Strategy Development for World Heritage Site Managers in the Islamic Republic of Iran

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The UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office and the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) organized a three-day training workshop on Sustainable Tourism Strategy Development for World Heritage Site Managers in the Islamic Republic of Iran from 7-9 September 2016.

The training took place at the Bisotun World Heritage Site in Kermanshah Province and brought together some 40 participants from the 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iran, as well as other national heritage sites.

The workshop was generously supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom Spain in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which provided a tourism expert from Spain to share practical experiences in developing tourism at heritage sites and historical cities.

During the opening ceremony, Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, mentioned that many locations are now actively developing their tangible and intangible cultural assets as a means of developing comparative advantages in an increasingly competitive tourism marketplace, and to create local distinctiveness in the face of globalisation.

“Here, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, we have 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which are unique treasures of humanity. And these sites are important travel destinations with huge potential impact for local economic development and long-term sustainability.  Moreover, this country has a very rich natural and cultural diversity, which manifests itself in the landscapes, biodiversity, gastronomy, traditions, customs, music, languages etc. of each province. All of this represents an important potential for tourism development”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.

Other speakers during the opening ceremony included Mr Razani, Governor General of Kermanshah Province; Dr. Morteza Rahmani Movahed, Deputy Head of Tourism (ICHHTO); Dr. Mohamad Hassan Talebian, Deputy Head of Cultural Heritage (ICHHTO); and Mr. Carlos Aragón Gil de la Serna, Deputy Head of Mission of the Spanish Embassy in Tehran.  

Ms. Cecilie Smith-Christensen from Norway facilitated the workshop and introduced the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme to the participants. She trained the heritage site managers on developing a World Heritage and sustainable tourism strategy taking a destination management approach.

Spanish tourism expert, Mr. Miguel Ángel Troitiño Vinuesa, Professor of Human Geography at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, shared practical experiences from Spain with the participants. He highlighted the importance of institutional leadership, local community involvement and partnerships with the private sector in developing heritage tourism destinations.

The workshop concluded with practical recommendations for follow-up actions and UNESCO will be supporting selected World Heritage Sites in the development of integrated tourism strategies.

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