By Barbara Slavin, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Environment Official says Iran looking for more International Cooperation
Faced with mounting environmental challenges, Iran is implementing an ambitious program to reduce greenhouse gases and restore dried wetlands, but it would benefit from more international cooperation, including a resumption of lending by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a senior official says.
In an exclusive interview Sept. 22 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s annual meeting, Majid Shafie-Pour, the deputy head of Iran’s Department of Environment, told Al-Monitor that US opposition to GEF support for Iran has hurt his country’s ability to achieve even more.
“Environmental challenges in Iran are really on a soaring path,” Shafie-Pour said. He cited the impact of climate change, drought and a rise in devastating dust and sandstorms from dried-up lakes and wetlands.
Tehran has also been experiencing a drop in water pressure as its population grows and reservoirs become depleted.
Under the recently concluded Paris agreement, Iran pledged to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change by 4% by 2030. “If we have all the sanctions removed and gain the support and partnership [of international organizations] we would add another 8% on top of that,” Shafie-Pour said.
US opposition to projects in Iran by the GEF, an arm of the World Bank, has reduced Iran’s ability to deal with environmental threats.
Shafie-Pour told Al-Monitor that of the $40 million allocated to Iran by the GEF in a period ending in 2013, about $35 million was never paid. “Although we had a number of projects endorsed, when it came to the board in Washington, we were surprised that no decision was ever declared,” he said.
As a result, the GEF reduced Iran’s allocation to $17.7 million under the next funding cycle that began in July 2014, he said. “But even that, we have not been able to date to get the approval of even one single project.”