Ambassador of Japan and UNDP Resident Representative visit Lake Urmia

July 19, 2021

To review the results of our ongoing initiative in support of Lake Urmia restoration, and to meet with local authorities and the local community involved in this project, Ambassador of Japan and UNDP Resident Representative visited East Azerbaijan Province

Japan is a longstanding donor and partner of UNDP in Iran.

For more than seven years, together with national partners including the Department of Environment (DoE), we have been working in the Lake Urmia Basin in over 180 villages of East and West Azerbaijan provinces implementing sustainable solutions to support livelihoods and green economy with the ultimate goal of protecting and reviving Lake Urmia.

Situated in Northwest of Iran, Lake Urmia is the biggest Salt Lake in Iran and part of a unique biodiversity-rich ecosystem of freshwater wetlands and rivers that are essential to the livelihoods of more than 5 million people living in the basin. During the past decade, this Ramsar Site – which is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a National Park – has been shrinking at an alarming rate due to man-made problems and climate change.

To review the results of our ongoing initiative in support of Lake Urmia restoration, and to meet with local authorities and the local communities involved in this project, a mission to the field took place from 5 to 7 July. H.E. Mr. AIKAWA, Ambassador of Japan, Mr. Claudio Providas, UNDP Resident Representative in Iran along with project staff members were part of the visiting delegation.

During his meeting with Mr. Javad Rahmati the Deputy Governor of East Azerbaijan province, Mr. AIKAWA said: "Good efforts have been made to revitalize Lake Urmia and I am very happy to see that the Lake is being revived and we hope to take more steps in this regard with the sympathy and cooperation of the related bodies. Japan will continue to contribute to the sustainable agriculture in this region with its partner UNDP.”

The ultimate goal of the joint initiative is protecting and reviving Lake Urmia

“We cannot change the climate, but we can design and implement projects that are climate-friendly which can have positive impacts on agriculture and peoples’ livelihoods. We can also focus on economic diversification in order to reduce the pressure on the use of water resources. This is what we have been doing here and have achieved good results,” said Mr. Providas.

He added: “In terms of next steps, we are looking at digital solutions and markets where the locals can sell their environmentally friendly products. We are looking at branding these products that consume less water to help pace up the restoration process. We are grateful to our partners including People and Government of Japan and DoE.”

To date, we have reached the following results in 183 pilot sites, engaging around 14,000 farmers:

  • Introduction of sustainable solutions to improve livelihoods, restore ecosystems and reduce pressure on water resources
  • 35% water saving for irrigation and 40% reduction in use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in pilot farms and orchards, also resulting in better crop yields
  • Establishment of 39 Micro-credit and alternative livelihood funds for women
  • Creation of 300 jobs for local agriculture experts and youth

Working with around 14,000 farmers promoting sustainable solutions and saving water with innovation