EghtesadOnline: A UN-backed tech event aimed at tapping the potentials of local startups and tech firms to boost efforts for restoring Urmia Lake will be held in November.
Dubbed Festival of Innovative Ideas and Products With Focus on Urmia Lake Restoration, the event is scheduled for Nov. 19-21 in the city of Urmia, West Azarbaijan Province.
Jointly organized by the United Nations Development Program, the UN's global development network, Iran's Department of Environment and the Agriculture Ministry, the event is divided into two sections: gathering of startups and presentation of innovative ideas and products.
According to the event's website Luif.ir, the event is aimed at identifying and boosting interaction with innovators and inventors, promoting solutions to modify natural resource consumption patterns, finding strategies to rescue and restore Urmia Lake and supporting firms active in disseminating innovative technologies, as well as communicating the environmental, economic and social consequences of letting the lake deplete, Financial Tribune reported.
The festival will also focus on developing ecotourism, strategies and innovative solutions to reduce the lake's water consumption by 40%, the role of modern communication technologies involving the general public in the restoration of the lake and identifying factors positively influencing the livelihood of the adjacent rural communities.
Startups, knowledge-based firms, environmentalists and enthusiasts can submit their ideas and products, or reserve a seat as an attendee on the event's website by Nov. 1. Participation is free of charge, organizers say.
Urmia Lake, located between East and West Azarbaijan provinces in northwestern Iran, was once the largest Middle East lake that shrunk considerably over the last decade due to drought, mismanagement and the overuse of water resources by many sectors.
This phenomenon had adverse biodiversity and socioeconomic impacts, including the livelihood and health of surrounding communities, and led to a gradual increase in soil salinity and made agriculture unsustainable in the entire basin.
However, the lake’s conditions are improving, according to the last report of the provincial Regional Water Company published in May.
The report says Urmia Lake holds 5 billion cubic meters of water–up 100% compared with last year when the volume was 2.5 billion cubic meters.
The lake's water level reached 1,271.8 cm in mid-spring, marking a 1.5-cm increase compared to last year.
In 2014, UNDP established the Local Community Participation in Restoration of Urmia Lake, involving 11,000 farmers, training 2,800 farmers, and employing and empowering 200 local experts to help save the lake.
The project also involved 12 NGOs, trained 800 rural women to play a role in Urmia Lake’s restoration and engaged more than 250 rural women in green jobs, UNDP's website reported.
All of this happened through the Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project, one of UNDP’s successful and long-standing programs to address the main causes of Iran's wetland degradation by applying the ecosystem approach of the convention on biological diversity at different levels.
The results of several pilot plans by the wetlands project in the surrounding villages of Urmia Lake show that there is a high potential for reducing water consumption and chemical inputs, while maintaining the income of farmers.
The allocation of international resources, along with governmental and non-governmental infrastructures and resources, has led to the formation of a social flow at national and local levels to restore Urmia Lake.