It's been no secret tht I was invited to and attended the aforementioned meeting recently held in Isfahan (or Esfahan), Islamic Republic of Iran, 10-11, January. It turned out to be one of the most rewarding personal/professional experiences I've ever
had. I'm ready to return! [Note added on 6 March 2015: Here's an interview of me on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Persian Language Service.]
Many thanks to the two main organizers, Drs. Hamid R. Safavi (shown at the bottom
of this post) and Kaveh Madani (shown to the right). They worked hard to assemble the program and speakers, all within the span of about 40 days. Yes, it was a Noahic task!
The support of the Isfahan Municipality and its Mayor (shown here) Dr. Sayed Morteza Saghaeian Nejad was greatly appreciated and essential to this effort. The Deputy Mayor, Mr. Mohsen Ranjbar (below right), was Chair of the Executive Committee and attended and contributed to all sessions. Isfahan Province and its governor were also very important to this effort as was Isfahan University of Technology and its President, Dr. Masoud Modaress Hashemi. All three entities - especially the two governments - are heavily engaged with the international community.
Here is the brochure with speaker bios, pictures, and the program:
Rapid population growth, high agricultural use, and industrial development, coupled with climate changes during the past few decades have caused increasing pressure on land and water resources in almost all regions of the world. The challenge is how to improve the management of water resources for present and future generations. Water resources planning and management tries to meet the water requirements of all water users, although, sometimes this is not possible. Frequently, conflicts among water users arise because water is a scarce and shared resource. The difficulties increase when the systems become large with numerous water users, several types of use, with unequal spatial distribution and such scarcity that water cannot be re-distributed without affecting other users. Nowadays, this seems to be the common pattern of water allocation in large basins.
Historically, fragmented water resources management has resulted in degradation of rivers and water bodies in many of the watersheds in the world, especially in arid and semi-arid regions. Thus, integrated water resources management (IWRM), especially in areas facing limited water resources, has become an indispensable approach. The goal of this approach is to balance water availability and demand, human and environmental water requirements, taking into account all available water sources (surface water, groundwater, reclaimed and desalinated water). IWRM mandates a trans-sectoral approach and developing sustainable water resources management strategies with through a systems approach. IWRM is going through integrated appraisal that deals with identifying trends and processes governing water resources benefiting the decision makers who are challenged with developing short- and long-term smanagement strategies under uncertainty.
The aim of the “Zayandeh-Rud Sustainability” international roundtable is discussing how expert’s knowledge and engineering judgment could be used for improved water resources planning and management in Zayandeh-Rud river basin. The Zayandeh-Rud river basin is one of the largest and most important basins in central Iran. Because of existence of different water sources, water demands, environmental needs, and water transfers from/to other basins, this basin is facing a lot of water management challenges that can be overcome through IWRM.
Zayandeh-Rud—the birth giving river—is the backbone of agricultural development as well as domestic water supply and economic activity of the Isfahan province in west- central Iran. This river basin is completely closed having no outlet to the sea. The river is about 350 km long and runs in a roughly west-east direction, originating in the Zagros Mountains, west of the city of Isfahan, and terminating in the Gavkhuni wetland to the east of the city. Zayandeh-Rud contains more water than any other river in central Iran. Nevertheless, the management of the water resource in the catchment area has become a source of conflict between different parties; a serious conflict which has become exacerbated in recent years. Municipal water utilities, industry such as cement companies, large steel rolling mills, pulp and paper, power plant companies and irrigation-dependent agriculture, all have high priority water demands. On the other hand, as, the Gavkhuni wetland, supposed to be preserved under the Ramsar Convention, does not receive enough water and is almost dead.
This meeting would be an invaluable opportunity for us to discuss the Zayandeh- Rud challenges, exchange ideas and look for opportunities for knowledge transfer and learning from international experiences in order to develop and effective and useful roadmap for sustainability of Zayandeh- Rud basin. On behalf of the organizing committee and the Isfahan University of Technology (IUT), I would like to welcome you all to our beautiful city and wish you a great and joyful stay in Isfahan.
Hamid R. Safavi
Chair of Scientific Committee
Associate Professor of Civil Engineering,
Isfahan University of Technology
Interesting to note that most of those listed in the program have engineering backgrounds. More on that later.
Here is my presentation, both as a PDF and PPT (more detailed versions to follow):
I will post additional items. This is just the first such post.
Enjoy! I sure did!
"He has fallen off the donkey, but has found a date." - Persian proverb