President ECOSF joined the International Summit on Water in Tehran – Iran (2-3 March 2016)

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Health and Lifestyle: Water, Sustainable Development and Healthy Life

Secretariat for Advancement of Science and Technology in the Islamic World (SASTIW) organized the International Summit on "Health and Lifestyle: Water, Sustainable Development and Healthy Life" at Tehran- Iran, with mutual collaboration of UNESCO Chair on Water Reuse of the University of Tehran, with the motto; “Water for peace and cooperation, not for war and disintegration”.  Since the current situation of water resources in Iran and other countries is worrisome and can obstruct in their development, the summit was aimed to share the experience of over 30 International water experts. ECO Science Foundation also participated in the summit through its President Prof Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro.

On 02 March, 2016 SASTIW Secretary General Prof. Ali A. Moosavi-Movahedi opened the summit at the University of Tehran. Other speakers in the opening session included Dr. Sarrafzadeh, the UNESCO Water Chair at the University of Tehran, the President of University of Tehran, President ECOSF Prof. Soomro, the Adviser Science to Prime Minister of Malaysia Prof. Abdul Hamid Zakri and the Vice Minister from the Ministry of Energy of Iran. Prof. Soomro with particular reference to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in his remarks emphasized on the role of education and awareness of water issues including management, conservation and use efficiency at all levels, especially the school children- the future. Prof. Zakri shared the global scenario of climate change effects on biodiversity and water resources and biodiversity & ecosystem services which are all linked with water.

Technical Session-I of the summit on "Water Diplomacy" was Co-Chaired by President ECOSF, in which water crises were discussed using the diplomacy approach. The importance of water for the regional peace was brought under discussion.  A research paper was also presented by Prof. Soomro entitled, “Water Resources & Transboundary Issues in ECO Region- Need for an ECO Water Experts Network (ECOWEN)” Wherein he elaborated that rivers flow travelling between countries in a common basin have been source of tension between states, but they have also contributed lot to unify the regions. The interconnected ECO countries are sharing water resources, and together they are facing major water problems. He said although water resources are limited in the region, the demand for water is increasing resulting in over-exploitation of water resources. The pressure on water is further growing due to increasing population density, massive expansion of hydropower plants, climate variability, transboundary political tension, poor water governance and widespread ecological collapse of freshwater systems.

He further emphasized that history has often shown that the vital nature of freshwater is a powerful incentive for cooperation, compelling stakeholders to reconcile even the most divergent views, as water more often unites than divides peoples and societies. Like many other regions across the world, ECO countries should also seek ways to make the best use of their limited water resources. Instead of the traditional fragmented approach which is no longer viable, the more holistic Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach seasoned with traditional Muslim and ethical rules of water use and water management is essential. This rationale is hoped to be accepted at regional level as the way forward for efficient, equitable and sustainable development and management of the region’s limited water resources and for coping with conflicting demands. Session (II) was about Water Quality in which degradation of Ecosystems including water and what the world is doing about it, arsenic contamination of ground water, health effects and mitigation were brought under discussion.

The next day of the summit (03 March, 2016) addressed the Sustainable Water Resource Management aspects. Water management in the Indus river basin-challenges and opportunities, the impact of climate change on water resources and future challenges, earth dams for aquifer recharge, infiltration and seepage, and water resources management in the irrigated and rain-fed areas were the main topics of the discussion.

The most important achievement of this event was the strengthening of the networking between water experts and scholars from all around the World. Common issues were explored, identified and brought under discussion that provided the opportunity to establish cooperation among scientists to solve problems with fewer expenses and wider knowledge.

Pre-Summit Workshop on Urmia Lake in Tabriz (29 Feb-01 March)

Prior to the main event, a Pre-Summit workshop on Urmia Lake was held at the University of Tabriz. Prior to workshop, a visit to Urmia Lake was also arranged for the participants in order to see the situation for themselves. Afterwards, roundtable discussion was held on the challenges and issues of the Urmia Lake and its impact on the level of water, agriculture, farming communities and jobs etc., using water diplomacy approach. Some of the historic sites of Tabriz were also visited by the participants including the Azerbaijan Museum and the ancient Tabriz Bazaars.

Post-Summit Meeting on Zayanderoud River Basin, in Isfahan (4-5 March 2016)

A post-summit meeting of the prominent International scholars in the field of water was held at the historical city of Isfahan with the provincial authorities and as guests of the Governor General of Isfahan Province, with especial reference to Zayanderoud river basin- the life line of the region. The water challenges faced by the Isfahan region such as; scarcity of water, water conservation and water use efficiency were discussed in the context of water diplomacy. The guests were also taken for guided visit to the historic places including Chehelsotun Palace and the Imam Square.

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