Dialogue and Discussion Session “Mother Earth, Desert and People”


By Nahid Naghizadeh, CENESTA

On the occasion of the “World Day to Combat Desertification”, Iran’s Architecture Pride-worthies Foundation with the collaboration of: CENESTA, (accredited NGO to the UNCCD),  Drynet, and 13 Environmental NGOs and Associations including: “The Women’s Society for Combating Environmental Pollution Tehran and Isfahan Branch” , Maktabeh Hormat-e-Hayat, Network of Environmental and Natural Resources NGOs of Mazandaran, People Platform for Saving the Ashoura-Deh, BOOM Ban, Heeloo, Sarveh Kouhi, Atazis, Iranian Association for Environmental Assessment, The Green Peace Students Committee of Amir Kabir university, Art and Culture organization of Tehran Municipality and Imam Ali Religious Arts Museum, planned to have a joint dialogue and discussion session titled “Mother Earth, Desert and People”.

 More than 50 participants and 8 panellists participated in this gathering.  The session focused on the most important challenges to combat desertification in the country. Image below: Participants at the event.

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The opening session started with a video titled “Dead of Life” prepared by CENESTA and Drynet, showing the destructive effects of severe and drastic drought, climate change issue, careless technologies and unsustainable development in ancestral territories of Qashqai and Shahsavan tribal confederacies in south and north west of Iran.

Alireza Ghahari, the moderator of the Panel, welcomed the participants and invited panellists to take the floor, the followings are the most important issues discussed by the panelists:

  • Fatemeh Zafarnezahd, water researcher and environmental activist: She focused on “Good governance of water resources and ecological integrity in natural resource management in fragile ecosystems of the country”. She mentioned the mismanagement of water resources in the country that has not only caused drying lakes, rivers and wetlands but also affected the livelihoods of local and indigenous peoples and caused desertification.  She stressed that we need strong solidarity to stop the newly started Inter-Basin Water Transfer from Caspian Sea and Karoun River branches and   avoid more ecological and socio-economic consequences as well as desertification within the country.
  • Khadija Razavi (image below), CENESTA/Drynet: She advocated preservation of genetic resources in particular endemic genetic diversity, awareness raising on the risk of using and consuming GMOs products along giving some examples of alternative for avoiding GMOs with the approach of raising diversity of seeds with the name of Participatory Evolutionary Plant Breeding with small scale farmers in the rain fed agriculture in Iran as an approach to adapt crops to climate change, drought and water scarcity increase on-farm biodiversity and support sustainable livelihoods and combating desertification;


  • Nahid Naghizadeh, CENESTA/Drynet: she presented a brief introduction of the UNCCD, Iran’s ratification of the convention, the UNCCD’s articles in relation with stakeholder’s participation for the implementation of the convention in particular local communities and indigenous peoples participation, introduction of” National Action Programmes to Combat Desertification (NAPs)”, the 10-year strategy of the UNCCD and participatory process of NAPs alignment with the UNCCD 10- year strategy. She also provided practical examples of multi-stakeholder regional workshops and their outputs to facilitate the NAP alignment process in Iran and emphasised on endogenous development and re-empowerment of local communities and indigenous peoples to take part in combating desertification, conservation of nature and biodiversity, land restoration and sustainable land use;
  • Mahlegha Kashefi, The Women’s Society for Combating Environmental Pollution: she presented the results of a research entitled “Comparison of the effects of dust pollution on the health of citizens in 109 years ago and today,” she said, our ancestors were sensitive to the effect of dust pollution on citizen’s health even a century ago. But now in 21st century we have no solution for stopping the negative effects of dust pollution on people’s health and environment with heavy metals such as lead and mercury and viruses. We call for an appropriate and immediate action by NGOs and authorities and considering a suitable methods and techniques to stop dust influx and its persistent health risks, desertification and loss of biodiversity in particular in south-west and central part of the country.
  • Farrokh Bavar (image below), Iran’s Architecture Pride-worthies Foundation: He focused on applying green and ecological architecture and added the building and urban development of Iran is a worst imitation of imported patterns and incompatible with its climate, geography and culture. He proposed, as the high consumption of natural resources such as water and energy caused desertification, therefore the officials and authorities should consider green, ecological, friendly and well-suited architecture for micro local climate and environment.

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  • Arash Kheir-Andish, Network of Environmental NGOs of Mazandaran, he also insisted on stopping the Inter-Basin Water Transfer programmes from temperate humid/semi-humid Caspian zone to the arid and semi-arid zone in Central Iranian Plateau. He also talked about the specific characteristics of climatic zones of Iran and its impact on socio-cultural life style of people and mentioned to have serious attention to the socio-ecological dangers of Inter-Basin Water Transfer programmes in Iran.
  • Babak Tutunchi, Maktabeh Hormateh Hayat, he talked about bio-democracy and disapproved and condemned some of the national programmes and projects in terms of governance and management of environment and natural resources such as starting two big Inter-Basin water transfer, mismanagement of water resources and construction of big dams. He also condemned inappropriate and unsuitable policies on commercialization of genetically modified products (GMOs) in the Sixth Development Plan of the country and called for urgent attention to the regions under the threat of dust storm, and so forth.

At the end, the organisers of the event, on the occasion of the “World Day to Combat Desertification” gave a certificate to the participants.

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