Friday, November 20, 2015

Supreme Leader Submits General Policies for the Environment

General Policies are high level strategies formulated by experts in the Expediency Council, adopted in that council and endorsed by the Supreme Leader. We were working with the Council for the past year to define the outlines and content of the major policies we need for the environment in Iran. These general policies will enable us to strengthen cross sectoral cooperation and to engage the judiciary, legislative and even armed forces to engage in implementation of environmental policies. The stategic mandate given in this directive also addresses social participation and the civil society which could be instumental for a social campaign to change current mentality and lifestyles particulaly in consumption patterns of water and energy. In addition  the emphasis on greening of the economy and supporting green technologies will give us strong incentives for investment and growth. The need to mitigate greenhouse gases and confront the detrimental effects of climate change is clearly mentioned as well.  The clear focus on environmental diplomacy is also important given the regional role with our neighbours and with the wider international community that we need to persue. The General Policies have given us a strong support in promoting the environmental agenda led by President Rouhani in the current government. These policies have also given a strong signal of committment and cooperation at the international level at the onset of COP21 negotiations on the new climate agreement. 
Iran will have an important role, as an influential and committed regional and global player, for promoting peace and environmental protection for our home, planet earth. 


Expand green economy, administer justice and raise awareness of the environment

In a letter to the heads of the three branches of government, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, announced the general policies on the environment on the basis of the first clause in Article 110 of the Constitution. 

The following is the full text of these policies issued on November 17, 2015.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

General Policies on the Environment:
1.    Comprehensive, harmonious and organized management of vital resources (including the air, water, soil and environmental diversity) based on ecological capability and sustainability particularly by increasing capacities and appropriate legal and structural capabilities accompanied by public participation.
2.    Establishing a cohesive and national system on the issue of the environment.

3.    Improving environmental conditions with the purpose of helping society enjoy a healthy environment, administering justice and observing intra-generational rights.

4.    Preventing and prohibiting the circulation of all kinds of unlawful pollutants, recording crimes related to the environment, administering efficient and preventive punishment of polluters and destroyers of the environment and forcing them to compensate for their actions.
5.    Continuous refinement and control of air, water, soil and noise pollutants, destructive waves and rays and unfavorable climatic changes, and making compulsory the observation of environmental standards and criteria in implementing rules and regulations, development plans and spatial planning.

6.    Preparing an environmental atlas of the country and protecting, reviving, optimizing and developing renewable natural resources (such as seas, lakes, rivers, dam reservoirs, wetlands, aquifers, forests, soil, grasslands and environmental diversity particularly of wildlife), imposing legal restrictions on using these resources in line with their ecologic capability (their sustainability and resilience capabilities) on the basis of sustainability standards and criteria, the management of sensitive and valuable ecosystems (including national parks and other national environmental heritage), preserving genetic resources and developing and improving them at the level of international standards.

7.    Managing climatic changes, confronting environmental threats such as desertification, dust particles, drought and microbial and radioactive transmitters, promoting foresight and identifying and managing new environmental phenomena. 

8.    Expanding the green economy by emphasizing:

8.1. Low-carbon industries, the use of clean sources of energy and healthy agricultural and organic products, the management of waste and wastewater by optimizing economic, social, natural and environmental capacities and resources.

8.2.    The reformation of production patterns in different economic and social areas, the improvement of consumption patterns of water, various resources and materials, food and energy sources particularly through promoting those fuel sources that are in harmony with the environment.

8.3.    The promotion of green and non-fossil modes of public transportation such as electric modes and an increase in public transportation particularly in large cities.

9.    Balancing and preserving, in an optimal way, groundwater through watershed and aquifer management, managing elements that reduce groundwater utilization and evaporation and preventing the entrance of pollutants.

10.    Establishing an environmental auditing system in the country by considering environmental values and costs (destruction, pollution and revival) in national accounting.

11.    Supporting and encouraging investments and technologies that are compatible with the environment by using proper means including green taxes.

12.    Preparing an environmental behavior chart and promoting and establishing environmental behavior and culture based on constructive Iranian-Islamic values and patterns.

13.    Improving studies and scientific research, utilizing new environmental technologies, benefiting from constructive domestic experiences in the area of preserving the balance of ecosystems, and preventing the environment from being polluted and destroyed.

14.    Raising and strengthening societial awareness, knowledge and outlook about the environment, and strengthening religious culture and teachings related to social responsiblty particularly through enjoining to do good and forbidding evil with the purpose of preserving the environment at all levels of society. 

15.    Strengthening environmental diplomacy through:

15.1. Efforts to create and strengthen regional organizations with the responsibility of confronting dust particles and water pollution.
15.2. Strengthening relations and encouraging purposeful and efficient cooperation – bilateral, multilateral, regional and international cooperation – in the area of the environment.

15.3. Making efficient use of international opportunities and incentives in moving towards a low-carbon economy and facilitating the transport and development of relevant technologies and innovations.


    Saturday, October 24, 2015

    The Timeless Message of Hussein: A Time for Contemplation

    The timeless message of Imam Hussein the younger grandson of the Prophet, is now a dynamic source of inspiration for many. Ashura has become an opportunity for contemplation on the plight of humanity. 
    Sixty years after the advent of Islam and the Hejira, fearing a serious deviation from the authentic teachings of  Islam ,Imam Hussein did not pledge allegience to the tyrant of his time. Being a charismatic and popular figure, Hussein was under tremendous pressure to approve thetreacherous  policies of Yazid .Branded as a rebell by the regime and based on the invitation of thousands of Kufan residents he departed from  Mecca before Hajj. Along with his companions and household, he faced a full army prepared for war in Karbala. He attempted to prevent war and bloodshed but the enmy was relentless. He was martyred along with his sons and companions leaving his sister Zainab and the children to pass on the message of Karbala.
      His was a life of love and inviting all humans to embrace the qualities of virtue.  The account of his legendary life and Ashura as the climax of his campaign for justice, is laden with references to his compassion and love for all. His endeavors to bring the adversaries to reverse their policy and leave him alone and abandone the battle field are a clear testimony to the ethical nature of his cause. In stark contrast with the message of contemporary reactionary terrorists who try to portray a very violent and ruthless image of Islam, Hussein's mesage was one of abiding to principles of human dignity, even in the battle field Imam orders his warriors not to shut off water from the enemy. He invites them to change course and save themselves,but they have been promised reign and wealth in return for killing Imam and silencing his campaign for justice.
    Fourteen centuries later, the voice of Hussein is loud and clear as he calls " life with oppressors is loss,and death becomes salvation" or as he said "my revolution is to invite people to enjoin in what is right and avoid what is wrong". Hussein stand as a beacon of light in the dark times we experience today, the philosophy of Hussein stands as a ship of salvation for a humanity shaken by stormy waters of war, violence and dangers for the future of our planet earth.
    More and more we see people from different walks of life, from different religions and nationalities embracing the cause of Hussein, striving for a life of dignity in a world torn apart by poverty, war, injustices and environmental degradation.

    Saturday, October 17, 2015

    Iranian Wonderland

    The Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majlis as we call it, witnessed fierce debates on the Nuclear Agreement. The supporters of Paydari Faction,  who stood firmly behind the former President Ahmadinejad During his term, are staunch adversaries of the agreement. They went as far as threatening Drs. Zarif and Salehi ,the Foreign Minister and the Head of the Atomic Energy Organization. Yet ultimately since the majority were convinced, in spite of the  very  heavy lobby  of the opponent and the very negative report of the special commmittee in charge, the agreement was appproved by the Majlis and endorsed by the Council of Guardians. Thus, one of the major vows of President Rouhani during his election campaign has neared fulfilment. While the Supreme Leader has given the green light for the 5+1 Agreement from the star,he has stressed on containment of political relations with the US considering the continued expansionist and militaristic policies of that government in the region.
    During the past months we are witnessing a rising flurry of diplomatic and business delgations, including a evident willingness on behalf of American corporations who feel they are falling behind in the competition. European and Asian, political and economic sectors have arrived but we have also seen a surge in journalists and tourists arriving in the Iranian Wonderland.
    Journalists are asking for interviews many of which I simply cannot accomodate, but those which I do, are keen on asking about the future of our relations with the west about my views as a member of the revolutionary student group in 1979, on the prospects of the new deal for the region and the world .
    I believe that the Moderation Government of Dr. Rouhani has taken great economic, social, political ,environmental and international strides in the past 25 months, yet we still have a long way ahead. In light of the very volatile situation of the middle east Iran has been playing a more proactive role to create more trust and confidence and sort out the differences created by a fabricated wave of Iranophobia among Arab states. We also have much to do in terms of creating grounds for a full integration of political groups loyal to the Constitution in the upcomming Majlis elections.
    We also have a very challenging course ahead in terms of integrating environmental concerns in the country's development processes.
    Hope and Prudence have been the key motivating factors in this path; we trust in God to guide us through these troubled waters.

    Friday, October 2, 2015

    GreenTech Helsinki

    I visited Helsiniki this month based on the invitation of the Finnish Minister of Economy to speak at an international event on Green Technologies. In addition to taking part in that session I met several dignitaries including, the President of Finland, the speaker of the Parliament, the Minister of Trade, the Minister of Environment, and the Committee on Foreign affairs.

    The cordial and positive atmosphere in all the meetings was indicative of a general resolve to upgrade bilateral relationships. Many Finnish corporations had a long history of successful dealings with Iran until of course the sanctions. 

    On the second day of my visit I also had the opportunity to meet with the Confederation of Finnish Industries and several top business leaders who were very keen to find ways to return or to begin investment in Iran. I explained the environmental challenges we face in Iran and proposed a joint effort to invest in green technologies such as solar energy.

    Several interviews with local and international media were convened including one with Euronews. Journalists were mostly inquisitive about the post[-]sanctions plans and the future relationships between Iran and the West.

    In these deliberations I emphasized on the emerging role of Iran in promoting peace and security in the region. I also mentioned that environmental issues are of a global and human nature and that we are all passengers of one ship and have a common but differentiated responsibility in this regard.

    Meanwhile, duringthe previous visit I had two months ago in Norway we had decided to convene technical workshops on renewable energies and environmental standards in petroleum industries. These workshops will be held in Bushehr and Tehran next month marking the start of our practical cooperation .

    Saturday, August 15, 2015

    Global Day of Peace for Iran

    Over 70 US cities have pledged to take part in a ceremony to support the nuclear deal with Iran. The opponent of the deal mainly the Hawks and Zionist lobbies see their interest in continuing tensions with Iran ultimately leading to a full escalation of war. That would give them more chances to sell their weapons and to dominate over the region. The Amercan people live in relative prosperity but they shuold know that this prosperity is attained at the price of war and suffering for many on earth.They need to realize that they are complicit in what their government does in other parts of the world. Time for indifference and carefreeness has elapsed, the young American generation must now choose between peace or war.The Iran nuclear deal has a message of mutual respect,peace and coexistence for all irrespective of our beliefs,cultures,nationalities or race,it builds upon our shared humanity, the dignity that every human being deserves. I pray and hope that goodness and peace will overcome.

    Thursday, August 6, 2015

    Iran Nuclear Deal :Congress Decides

    As long as we are alive we are tested for our deeds,our words and even our intentions and thoughts.This is part of the system of creation where a chance is  given to every human to fulfill a life in the good or the bad direction on the basis of the free choice given to all humankind.We are thus always making choices, taking decisions which directly or indirectly, immediately or gradually affect our lives and determine our fate. Regulating or controling our inner drives, which are intrinsically very strong is part of this process, therefore  caution is the rule of the day. This individual perspective , which applies to most faiths and religions, would have very dramatic dimensions when taken to social and political levels. The reasons behind major decisions affecting the future of humanity has sometimes fallen into the hands of people who have not taken caution against their inner drives , people who have not realized what could be at stake, people who did not have the insight to forbid what is bad and to enjoin what is good. 70 years ago the US employed nuclear weapons against Hiroshima & Nagasaki killing millions of innocent civilians. Nuclear proliferation and the arms race has continued in the world unabated since and while millions live in abject poverty and disease, while the natural environment of planet earth is degrading at an alarming rate, military expenditure and the legal and illicit arms trade has exceeded all other areas.
    70 years later,  building upon the legacy of those who have invited humanity to peace, brotherhood and justice, Prophets and altruists, Iran joined western powers in a difficult, complex and intriguing process of negotiations. These talks were aimed at lifting the illegal sanctions against Iran and ensuring western powers about the  peaceful intentions of our nuclear program. The successful settlement gave a strong signal to the international community that inspite of a long standing conflict between Iran and the US, dialogue can open vistas for reconciliation provided that a strong political will exists. The support of the Supreme Leader  and the President for Dr. Zarif and his team paved way for a national resolve on this matter in Iran, despite differences of opinion among political rivals. The current internal debates and hearings in the US Congress have recieved much media coverage. Since the major opponent of the deal has been the Zionist regime, their staunch supporters in the Congress have taken coordinated positions against the deal, bringing into light the true intentions of certain groups who consider the security of Israel more important than US or even global security. This reveals how the nuclear deal has exposed the true identity of zionist groups in the US and how this minority has contolled the political, financial and media strongholds of that nation for decades. The question has surfaced in many social media that since the American people have been held hostage  and taken to war several times to protect Israel will they now stand up to protect their own nation to secure global peace and to restore the damaged image of their country in the world? Americans and particularly their young generation have been generally barred from understanding the truth behind their governments policies, they are usually  uninformed or indifferent. The Iran nuclear deal provides an opportunity for the people and the Congress who purport to represent them to engage in determining  their destiny and that of the world, to change the war mongering image of their government. The Congress now has a historical decision which is exposed and evident for the world to see, to give diplomacy and negotiation a chance or to stubbornly push ahead for unilateral dominion,conflict and violence.  I sincerely hope that the American people and the Congress take necessary caution and make a better decision for peace and the future prosperity of all humanity. 

    Friday, July 31, 2015

    Fabius and climate talks in Tehran

    Tehran has been hosting high level diplomatic delegations since the nuclear settlement. One after the other political and economic figures have arrived to enhance and strengthen relations. Lauren Fabius, the French Foreign Minister, was the most recent among them. He arrived on Wednesday to meet, Dr. Zarif, President Rouhani, ministers of industry and petroleum. 
    As Fabius is the future President of the COP21, the climate negotiations that must lead to a new agreement by the end of 2015, he also came to visit me at Pardisan Park later in the afternoon.
    Areas of bilateral cooperation, green technologies, renewable energy and air pollution control were discussed . We also spoke on the various hurdles ahead of the climate negotiations. The issue of common but differentiated responsibilites eluding to the historical responsibility of industrialised countries which have a long history of GHG emissions was brought up. I also noted of the need to take more practical steps and commitments by countries of the North. A balanced, equitable and sustainable deal which addresses mitigation as well as adaptation and the damages countries are facing is required. I noted that our government will collaborate to achieve those ends. I also made note of the steps Iran is taking for energy efficiency as well as renewable energies. The damages Iran faces now due to climatic changes including higher temperatures, lower precipitation and less snow resulting in degradation of natural resources and agriculture were also discussed. I mentioned that the episodes of dust storms were also  increasing in incidence and intensity. Mr. Fabius invited me to attend a consultation session with ministers in Paris ahead of the COP21 session. I also asked him finally whether he thought the COP talks would be more difficult than the nuclear negotiations.

    We moved to the lobby of the main building of the DOE to  meet the large group of reporters and respond to some questions.