Yazd- 3 October 2017, The UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office and the International Centre on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures (ICQHS) kicked off a three-day international expert meeting in Yazd, Iran, about Climate Change Adaptation and Indigenous Knowledge of Water Management.
The meeting brought together imminent scientists from France, Germany, Iran, Kenya, Pakistan and Switzerland, as well as Iranian NGO representatives of indigenous communities from Shahsevan in Ardebil; Bakhtiari tribe; central desert tribes, including Abolhassani, Chodari, Rezaabad and Torout; Bafgh camel herders; marine and coastal communities from Qeshm island; and Baloch tribes. Small-scale farmers from Fars province were also present.
“There is no permanent river in Yazd province, also seasonal rivers have dried up. Therefore, we rely on groundwater, which is a limited resource and its table is going down. Considering the rich water management traditions passed on by our ancestors, we along with UNESCO have decided to hold this expert meeting to learn from existing indigenous knowledge”, mentioned Mr. Ghafori, the acting Director of ICQHS.
Ms. Esther Kuisch-Laroche, the Director of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Tehran, stated that UNESCO’s Climate Change Policy makes explicit reference to local and indigenous knowledge systems, including local-level climate observations, understanding strategies devised by local communities to cope with changing environments, and identifying needs and ensuring the relevance of adaptation measures for vulnerable populations in remote areas such as small islands, high altitudes, humid tropics and the circumpolar North.
“Understanding indigenous knowledge of nature and the sustainable use of natural resources, long-term observations of environmental change, and community-based strategies for resilience, are essential in the face of increasingly extreme weather events, droughts, floods, and unsustainable use of natural resources around the world”, said the UNESCO Representative. “Traditional knowledge systems, many of them embedded in a remarkable diversity of cultures and sustaining a broad spectrum of ways of life, constitute a rich and diverse intellectual heritage, whose importance for attaining international development objectives, including the Sustainable Development Goals, should not be underestimated”.
Dr. Nejadkourgi of Yazd University stated that Yazd is a true example of adaptability. The materials used in construction, the innovative cooling system used in wind towers, the qanats system to transport water, are all systems that should inspire us to devise adaptation strategies that are compatible with the local environment.
During the first two days of the meeting, experiences from local practices in Ghana, India, Kenya, Pakistan were shared with the participants. Ms. Niloofar Sadeghi, Programme Officer for Natural Sciences at the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, provided an overview of UNESCO’s policies and initiatives to incorporate indigenous knowledge in climate change assessment and adaptation.
The indigenous communities coming from across Iran also shared their observations about the changing climate and their innovative measures to adapt to the climate change.
The meeting will run from 3 to 5 October 2017 in the historic city of Yazd. On the final day of the meeting, the participants will be visiting Hassanabad-Moshir Qanat and Pahlavanpour garden in the city of Mehriz.
The Persian Qanats and the historical city of Yazd have both registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.