FAO headquarters in Rome hosted a group of international experts that specialize in social-ecological systems to discuss a number of case studies including the Lake Urmia Restoration program.
According to a press release by the FAO Representation in Iran, the overall theme of the expert workshop was to discuss how the social-ecological systems frameworks has been applied to complex problems related to sustainable agriculture and land use, especially under water scarcity conditions.
The expert workshop also addressed the methodological advances in operationalizing social-ecological systems (SES) frameworks within action-orientedprojects.
A special session was dedicated to Lake Urmia Restoration program. Hossein Shahbaz, Manager of International Cooperation at the Urmia Lake Restoration Program and Aziz Elbehri, the event convener and the Lead Technical Officer of the FAO project “Integrated Programme for Sustainable Water Resources Management in the Urmia Lake Basin” funded by the Government of Japan and currently under implementation in coordination with ULRP, attended the meeting.
The case of Lake Urmia restoration was a perfect fit for such a highly technical meeting. Mr. Shahbaz presented an overview of the Lake Urmia Restoration Programme, its causes, trends and challenges. Mr. Elbehri presented the social-ecological framing of the Lake Urmia restoration program focusing on the integrating biophysical and socio-economic components.
At the meeting, Elbehri outlined FAO’s specific focus under this project highlighting the need for an integrated framework combining different disciplines dealing with water availability, water consumption, land use and cropping choices, optimized water use methods, and other best practices in food production and marketing.
The Lake Urmia restoration project places great emphasis on governance, institutional and policy reforms that enable local beneficiaries to better adopt sustainable practices and alternative income-generating activities to lessen the pressure on water consuming crops and hence contribute to the Urmia lake restoration.
The participants were highly engaged in the case studies presented, particularly the Lake Urmia project for which there was near agreement to provide further advice on how best to implement the SES framework in this particular case.
It was agreed that a special report following the expert workshop will be prepared under the coordination of FAO and that the special case of Lake Urmia restoration program will be treated as a fully detailed case study of SES frameworks.
The expert meeting took place at FAO headquarters in Rome from January 23-25, 2018 and was attended by over 20 international experts.