Zarif urges regional co-op on environment

February 25, 2017 - 9:29

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for collective efforts on Friday to be made by all neighboring countries to tackle environmental challenges. 

“The Islamic Republic of Iran extends its hand of cooperation to neighboring countries in order to provide the youths of the region with a better future and counter threats against the present and future generations through a joint action plan,” he said during a speech at the opening ceremony of 16th international exhibition on environment.

He added that cooperation in helping settle environmental crises is a security and political necessity. “Not only is it an environmental necessity, but it is also a matter of security.”

The minister also criticized regional “wrong policies” for causing environmental crises such as desertification, dust storms and water shortage. 

Saddam’s war against Iran in the 1980s, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent rise of terrorism in Iraq have diverted attention from environmental degradations for more than three decades. 
Environmental cooperation by all regional countries is a necessity regardless of political approaches, the minister noted, adding, “Now we know that we all are boarding the same ship and we either return safe or end up living in an uninhabitable earth and would inevitably die.”
The top diplomat further reminded that cooperation in the sphere of environment can lay the ground for “building trust” among countries in the region. 
Zarif also expressed hope that common challenges in various areas including economy, security and environment would be settled. 
“I seriously hope that the kind of appreciation we now have for environmental issues on international scale would develop for other issues such as poverty, fighting terrorism and extremism,” the foreign minister noted.
The international exhibition on environment started on February 24 and will run until February 27.

Three hundred domestic companies and 20 foreign ones from Germany, South Korea, Britain, Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, China, Sweden, Finland, France, Japan, Russia, Norway and Austria have participated in the exhibition.
Over the four-day event companies and organizations would introduce their achievements in environmental fields, namely new energies, recycling, water and wastewater treatment, pollutant monitoring devices, etc.

Dust storms and unhealthy air pollution are throwing life out of gear for residents in southwestern Iran for a couple of years now.  The dust storms are believed to originate from hot spots - mostly totally dried up wetlands - located in Iraq and Iran.

Nuclear deal streamlines environmental co-op 

Addressing the event, Department of Environment chief Masoumeh Ebtekar said the nuclear deal has paved the way for international cooperation in the environmental field. 

She also said, “The issue of environment does not involve one nation or region and requires international support and determination.” 

UNEP ready to support Iran 

United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Erik Solheim, for his part, said, “We are ready to support Iran and the Department of Environment to step forward towards protecting the environment.” 

He expressed hope that as Iran succeeded in reaching a nuclear deal it will succeed in resolving environmental issues as well.

Solheim corroborated Iran’s attempts to bring the issue of sand and dust storms to international attention. “What Iran is doing indicates that they are after improvement.”

Italy, Iran set to foster environmental co-op

Italian Minister of the Environment Gian Luca Galletti, for his part, highlighted that Iran and Italy have recently agreed to foster cooperation on greenhouse gas emission, traffic management and energy efficiency. 

“We are also hammering out and discussing the possibility of initiating projects on waste management,” he added.

Iranians well recognize importance of the environment

Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety of Germany, pointed out that Iranians have well recognized the importance of the environment.

“Environmental pollution, namely air pollution, is among global threats and tackling them require solidarity like what we did in Germany and improved air quality,” he said.