An Iranian environment official has, in an interview with IRNA, enumerated people’s demands from the re-elected president, Hassan Rouhani, in the field of environment.
The following are a number of public demands highlighted by Mohammad Darvish, the director general of the Public Contributions Office of Iran’s Department of Environment.
Settlement of Structural Problems and Allocation of Budget Proportionate to Costs
The environment in Iran is currently gripped by problems which have caused ecological instability in the country. As a first step, the 12th administration should push on with the positive trend which started in the 11th administration.
The first problem in this domain is that the software and hardware facilities as well as the budget allotted to the Department of Environment are not proportionate to the function expected of it. As long as the required funds are not provided and experts at the department do not keep themselves up to date and attend high-quality training courses, one cannot expect the Department to deal with environmental problems as required.
In the next step, environmental activists expect Rouhani’s administration to separate the country’s Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization from the Agriculture Jihad Ministry, and merge it with a few other organizations to form a single ministry. In that case, we can hope the situation of natural resources and the environment will be improved.
Recycling Water Rather than Practicing Structural Management
The issue of structural management of water resources in the country should be settled once and for all. The dams built in the country are surplus to requirements. Applying techniques such as transferring water on a local scale will not only not solve problems in the water sector, but will further complicate the problems. The government is expected to seriously counter this approach and instead of going for structural management of water resources, choose to recycle water, restore underground water canals, increase irrigation efficiency, reduce waste in the agriculture sector, study bodies of deep water, and use techniques such as desalination of water from the Sea of Oman through utilizing solar energy.
Demolishing Unnecessary Dams
Destroying nonessential dams is a common practice even in other countries. More than two thousand dams have been demolished in the United States so far. Environmental activists do demand that the Gatvand Dam be torn down.
Improvement of Tourist Attractions
Activists want dependence on the country’s water and land resources to be decreased when it comes to environmental development. Instead of waiting for rain to boost agricultural activities, we should take advantage of techniques to increase efficiency in the agriculture sector. Also, efforts should be made to boost cultural, historical and natural tourist attractions. The construction of ecotourism accommodations can draw over 50 million tourists to Iran annually. That could create job opportunities and increase cultural engagement with other countries.
Development of Public and Rail Transportation in Cities
The fifth demand by environmental activists is that the urban furniture be changed from a vehicle-oriented structure to human-oriented one. Public and rail transportation should be developed instead of encouraging the construction of more highways and tunnels. Creation of safe bicycle lanes and pavements will also contribute to reduction of air and noise pollution as well as improvement of public health.
Preventing Implementation of Development Projects in Unique Habitats
Iran has picturesque scenery and habitats, which should not fall victim to development projects. There are several islands, lagoons, waterfalls, lakes, forests and coasts which are in danger. Environmental activists want the implementation of development projects to be stopped in these areas.
Fighting Animal Abuse
Another demand is that the government deals with animal molestation, so that people will not be able to harm animals and post their videos online. The president-elect is asked to seriously support the development of nature schools and encourage managers and ministers to use bicycles in order to further boost public health.
One of the key indicators of a green economy is to distance ourselves from a vehicle-oriented culture. The next step would be to render government services electronically and, hence, decrease the volume of traffic. This could happen via powerful Internet services. As long as Iran’s natural resources are not valued, one cannot hope that a green economy will get established. As long as green buildings are not built in Iranian metropolises and no limits are set on the issuance of permits for construction of non-standard factories, we cannot speak of green economy. Also, as long as gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles are produced in the country, and hybrid, electrical and solar vehicles are not used on a large scale, green economy will not be developed.