Post-sanctions environment exhibition kicks off in Tehran

March 1, 2016 - 0:0

TEHRAN — On Monday, the Fifteenth International Environment Exhibition kicked off at the Tehran Permanent International Fairgrounds.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by two environment ministers from Finland and Austria and a Japanese vice minister for environment who delivered speeches at the ceremony along with the Iranian Department of Environment chief and central bank governor.

--- We still have time to reverse environmental problems

Masoumeh Ebtekar, chief of Iran’s Department of Environment, noted, “We still have time to reverse the damages we caused to the environment and I hope the next parliament make better decisions about the environment.”

“We need to change our approaches and pay more attention to expanding international ties and cooperation in this regard,” Ebtekar said.

For instance, she said, saving Lake Urmia is a global concern as all countries worldwide have “common humanitarian interests” rather than just economic ones.

“We all are the passengers of the same ship and whatever happens to our environment will definitely affect us all,” she cautioned.

NGOs, innovative approaches, and international cooperation are all essential to address environmental issues.

--- National Environment Fund to facilitate industrial reforms

Some of the Iranian industries which are willing to change and reform their pollutant strategies will benefit low interest rate loans provided by the National Environment Fund, Ebtekar heralded.

“We will elaborate on the detail of the loans later, after holding negotiations with responsible organizations,” she added.

--- Assessment of environmental damages must be taken into consideration

Valiollah Seif, the Iranian central banker, said it is vital to take environmental damages into account in industrialization.

“By the growth of the economy we keep on damaging the environment on greater scales so it is of great significance to deduct those costs from our overall gains,” Seif elaborated.

Paying attention to the environment is just as important as economic justification of a project, he noted.

--- Iran had gone clean-tech centuries before the concept of clean-tech was invented

Kimmo Tiilikainen, the Finnish Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, commented on the ancient Iranian accomplishments, saying, “I’m thinking that ancient Iranian wind towers, and ancient Iranian irrigation systems called qanats [are the proof of the fact that] Iran had already gone clean-tech centuries before the concept of clean-tech itself was invented.”

--- Abstaining from change will come with a great loss


“It is true that changing our attitudes and patterns of our behavior will not come without cost but continuing the old path will be even much more costly,” Tiilikainen told the participants at the environment exhibition.

Most recently the world economic forum has ranked Finland number one in the world in environmental performance index, Tiilikainen said. “One of the key arguments for Finland’s top ranking was our society’s commitment to not exceed nature’s carrying capacity.”

He highlighted “what makes the Paris agreement unique is the contribution of 195 countries and it was the first universal and legally binding deal addressing the threats of the global climate change. I’d like to thank Iran for the constructive role in the Paris deal.”

Climate change is directly linked with poverty, he said. “We have already witnessed how environmental catastrophes lead to the flood of refugees, and as Paris agreement clarifies clean energies are one of the key solutions for the future, so sharing knowledge between countries will benefit all of us.”

--- Iran would play more important role in the future

Andra Rupprechter, the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management of Austria, also said, “We are witnessing a change in the atmosphere of Iran and its relation with the world, given Iran’s location, size and its great human resources, well-educated young people it would play and even more important role in the future and I’m looking forward to this cooperation.”

“It is the best time to resume cooperation to reach a green economy in the post-sanction era,” Rupprechter noted in reference to the Iran nuclear deal which lifts sanctions against Iran.

“I think Iran was the first country that has put the environment protection in its constitution and I want to congratulate you on that,” Rupprechter remarked.

He further commented on the COP 21, saying “In order to address environmental issues we need global cooperation. COP 21 (Paris climate conference) was a great success for all of us and Iran’s role was of key importance. Iran was one of the driving forces for the agreement.”

“Environmental protection and the sustainable use of all natural resources is of key importance to both our countries and regions (Europe and the Middle East). They affect all of us and the next generation because we have no second globe,” the Austrian minister noted.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is known in Austria for its magnificent history but also known as one of the world’s most severely affected by water scarcity.

In spite of industrialization in Austria, the quality of drinking water which mostly comes from stream is among the best in the world, he noted.

The minister added, “We (Austrians) not only enjoy from crystal clear lakes but have got juggles and high share of organic farming, and Austria is the European location for environmental technology as is Finland.”

“As one of the richest nations in the European Union with a very high hare of renewable energy, 33 percent of our energy comes from hydropower, biomass, wind and solar energy and this is going to grow in the next years. By 2030 we at least want our electricity to come from renewable sources.

“I’m confident that our bilateral economy (economic cooperation with Iran) will expand farther and will reach the level we had before the sanctions. Today several Austrian companies in the field of environment and agriculture are here to learn about the opportunities to work with Iranian firms,” he stated.


--- Iran will get positive results in the near future in environmental issues

Masaaki Kobayashi, the vice minister for global environment affairs at the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, assured the seminar that Iran will get positive results in the near future in dealing with environmental issues

“It would be a great honor for us to contribute to this process,” Kobayashi said.

The Japanese delegation is very impressed by all the progresses the Iranian government has made in environmental sector, he added.

You all know that Japan has once suffered from serious environmental issues during the period of rapid economic growth, Kobayashi said.

“However we almost were able to overcome those one by one because all industries, local governments and the citizens joined hand for the sole purpose of sustainable development.

“We have three guiding principles under the name of environment basic plan,” the vice minister said. “Recycling all materials that are produced, building a low-carbon economy, and taking safety through all these processes into account are the three principles.”

He added, “The concept of green economy is well integrated into our measures and policies.”


[highlight]

Kimmo Tiilikainen, the Finnish Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, commented on the ancient Iranian accomplishments, saying, “I’m thinking that ancient Iranian wind towers, and ancient Iranian irrigation systems called qanats [are the proof of the fact that] Iran had already gone clean-tech centuries before the concept of clean-tech itself was invented.”