Code: 1628
  Published Date:  Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Iran expands 10-year-old UNDP Zagros project

Iran to expand successful 10-year-old UNDP Zagros project with own funds.

(Iran's Environment News Agency) - The Zagros Mountain range – stretching from Turkey and Russia to the Persian Gulf – passes through a large section of western Iran.  It is a vast catchment area, accounting for 50% of Iran’s surface water.  It is, quite simply, Iran’s water tower.  But decades of construction and often-unplanned development have placed its fragile ecosystems in danger.
One effort to repair the damage started over a decade ago.  The “Central Zagros Biodiversity Landscape Conservation” project began operations in 2005, originally in Fars province.  It was later extended to Isfahan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, and finally, Kohkiloye and Boyer Ahmad provinces.
During its lifetime, the project – implemented by the Department of Environment and the UN Development Program (UNDP) – piloted a number of successful conservation efforts.  It then documented the best practices and expanded upon them.
Recognizing the need to sustain and expand this extensive mainstreaming effort, the Government of Iran is now taking steps to retain the project’s legacy as it comes to an end in 2016.
Today, at the Department of Environment, five official stakeholders signed a Memorandum of Understanding to keep the initiative alive.  These were the Governor-Generals of the four Zagros provinces named above, the Ministry of the Interior and the Management and Planning Organization.

The event took place in the presence of the Vice-President and head of the DoE, Dr. Massoumeh Ebtekar and UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis.

During its lifetime, the Zagros project was funded to the tune of approximately USD 3.9 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) implemented through the UNDP Iran office, and an amount from the Government exchequer equivalent to USD 5.8 million.

The project has been influential in shaping of the 6th National Development Plan which has been submitted to parliament for consideration.  The intention is to use its findings to ensure the future sustainable development of the Central Zagros mountain landscape.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, and referring to events in the past half-decade, Ebtekar noted that: “Due to unfair sanctions imposed on Iran, we have been deprived of expanding our GEF projects – which, like this one, can turn to best practices and be used and expanded to other parts of the country.”

“We hope,” continued Ebtekar, “that in the future we can use such international projects in order to maximize the capacities we have here in Iran.”
Mr. Lewis also spoke at the event: “Although UNDP is withdrawing from this modest and supportive initiative in Zagros, we remain committed to staying and continuing to help Iran in other important areas relating to environmental sustainability and protection.”

Environmental sustainability is one of UNDP’s key focus areas in its current country program agreed with the government of Iran. In the future program due to start in 2017, this specific undertaking has been elevated to top priority status.

by Alireza Ghamkhar, Translate Fatemeh Ghamkhar


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