EghtesadOnline: The water crisis unfolding across continents is a global challenge that needs to be addressed through meaningful collaboration and networking, the officer-in-charge of the UNESCO Tehran cluster office said in Tehran Thursday on the sidelines of a meeting of the board of governors of the Regional Centre for Urban Water Management.
“It is not only the quantity of water, but also quality; access to clean and fresh water is one of the issues that should be tackled through cooperation among all RCUWM member states,” the Energy Ministry news portal Paven quoted Cvetan Cvetkovski as saying.
“We see that the RCUWM has the capacity for research and collaboration and can affect all countries in the region so that we address the existing challenges,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
Organized under the auspices of UNESCO, the meeting was attended by water and energy ministers and senior officials from 16 countries.
Representatives from UNESCO, World Health Organization, FAO and the United Nations Development Program also attended.
The main agenda of the meeting was sharing experience in areas of adaptation to water shortages, flood and drought management, water quality, using unconventional water and training and capacity building.
Participants included ministers and representatives from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Egypt, Germany, Switzerland and Syria.
Ten projects were approved by the governors in a variety of areas, namely improving water quality, training and capacity building, support for active startups in water-related areas, regional drought monitoring as well as sharing experience and technology in wastewater treatment sectors, Iran's energy minister said.
Reza Ardakanian said Iranian firms will cooperate in the reconstruction of Syria's water and sewage network and contribute to its hydropower projects.
The two countries signed an MoU on Thursday, based on which Iranian companies will take part in the construction and renovation of dams, power plants, and refineries plus help in the production of equipment and manpower training in the war-ravaged Arab country’s hydropower sector.
A joint committee at the level of deputy ministers would be delegated to decide the mechanism and follow up implementation of the Syria projects.
Syria’s Water Resources Minister Hussein Arnous refereed to the “strategic ties” between the two sides and called for closer cooperation in economic fields.
He welcomed using Iranian potential and expertise for the reconstruction of the water projects in his country.
Arnous said the government in Damascus is keen on rehabilitating the water system. He recalled that over the past eight years “a terrorist war has been waged against Syria inflicting colossal damage to the water and related infrastructure.
In the chaos of fighting between the government and anti-government fighters (started in 2011), the terrorist militant group IS took over large parts of Iraq and then moved into eastern Syria, where they were able to gain land and power.
Although by March 2019, IS had lost control of all the land they once occupied, the situation is still complicated because other countries have got involved in the conflict.
The Syrian government's key supporters are Russia and Iran, while the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia back the anti-government fighters.
Recently, the US removed troops from north-east of Syria, which gave way for Turkey to launch a military attack against Kurdish-forces in the region.
While fighting still continues, at least 6.2 million ordinary people have had to leave their homes inside Syria, and another 5.6 million have left the country.
The Regional Centre on Urban Water Management was established in 2002 in Tehran following an agreement signed between Iran and UNESCO.
RCUWM contributes to water-related projects of UNESCO’s strategic program by capacity building, knowledge sharing and research at regional and international levels.
The center’s main activities include holding training courses and capacity building programs on various topics, such as water scarcity adaptation and demand management, supporting joint research and technology transfer projects plus partnership and networking at regional and international levels.
The agreement between Iran and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) regarding RCUWM was extended recently, signed and exchanged for its third period of activities as for 2018-2023.
Since establishment, RCUWM has signed MoUs with more than 10 international organizations, supported 12 joint research projects in the region, and held about 50 educational events for more than 20,000 people.