US law forbids US support for multinational lending to countries on the State Department’s list of countries supporting terrorism. US officials have considered trying to waive the law for the purpose of facilitating environmental projects in Iran but fear an adverse congressional reaction.
Shafie-Pour said his country was doing what it could on its own and through cooperation with the United Nations and some countries, such as France, whose environment minister, Segolene Royal, visited Iran in August.
Wetland restoration has been a particular area of concern because of the impact of desertification on local communities and on air pollution in Iran’s cities.
“We are doing at the national level all that we have in our capacity to restore wetlands both in the west and the east, as well as Lake Urmia,” he said. The condition of the lake, which has dried up at a frightening pace because of climate change and poor water management, threatens the livelihood of 14 million people in northwest Iran who rely on agriculture. Windstorms that whip up the salt and sand at the bottom of the lake have also been the source of devastating air pollution.
Shafie-Pour noted that President Hassan Rouhani’s first Cabinet meeting after he took office in 2013 was devoted to a discussion of Lake Urmia and that Iran was implementing a long-term project to try to restore the lake.
Iran is facing similar challenges at the Hour al-Azim wetlands on the border with Iraq and the Hamouns on the border with Afghanistan, he said.