International Conference on Environment, Peace, and the Dialogue among Civilizations and Cultures

9-10 May 2005 | Tehran, Iran

IISD's SUMMARY REPORT is available online in the following formats: 



Click here for highlights from Monday, 9 May, including photos of Iranian President Seyed Mohammad Khatami

The International Conference on “Environment, Peace, and the Dialogue among Civilizations and Cultures” continued on Tuesday, 10 May 2005 at the Azadi Grand Hotel in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran.

In the morning, participants met in working sessions on: environment and human security; dialogue among civilizations; peace and conflict prevention; and dialogue - what it means and entails.

The conference concluded in the afternoon with an interactive discussion and closing session. The outcomes of the conference include a communiqué to be formally submitted by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN Secretary-General as a message to the UN high-level event in September at the commencement of the 60 th session of the UN General Assembly.


The closing session was attended by Kamal Kharrazi, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs. He said the conference highlights that the interaction between environment, peace and security is increasingly appreciated around the world and stressed that people have come to realize that the environment is critical to their lives and that the environment is threatened. Photo: Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi addresses the Conference during the closing session; Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi, with Iranian Vice-President and Conference Chair Massoumeh Ebtekar and Ambassador Bagher Asadi (left).



The Tehran Communiqué includes conclusions and recommendations stating, among other things: that there is a need for a new shared vision of a common destiny to create a culture of universal peace and solidarity that can create an environment free from poverty, war, fear, violence and insecurity; that there is a need to deepen and broaden the process of dialogue among civilizations and cultures; that UNEP should continue its initiative on environment, peace and dialogue and consider holding annual international meetings; that greater efforts should be made to include broader constituencies, including mayors and civil society, in this process; that the proposed UN Peace-Building Commission should contribute to the objectives of the conference; and that consideration should be given to the development of fora for preventive dialogue and confidence building, conflict resolution, and post-conflict restitution.

Parallel Session: Environment and Human Security


Kevin Clemens, Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Queensland University (left), addressed the need for more conflict-sensitive development policies and programmes, underlining the need to think and act holistically regarding development, security and human rights debates. Hans van Ginkel, United Nations University, underlined that the environment and human security problems are complex and so must be our solutions, noting that actions to address one problem often create new ones and that proposed solutions must pay attention to specific circumstances.

Juan Mayr Maldonado, former Colombian Environment Minister (far right) chaired the session on environment and human security.

Hossein Fadaei, UNEP (right), outlined the work of the ENVSEC initiative in Central Asia, which promotes peace and security through cooperation.
Parallel Session: Special Panel on Dialogue among Civilizations

Reza Sha'abani, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran (left), drew on Iran's long history at the crossroad of civilizations to underscore the relevance of Khatami's desire for dialogue among nations, showing that the initiative is deeply rooted in Iranian culture and psyche. Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Rabbinic Fellow in the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, described his personal experience of the spirituality of the environment, and noted that sacred texts are filled with environmental references.

John Grim, Coordinator of the Harvard Forum on Religion and Ecology, outlined the Forum's work in generating dialogue, and reminded the group that small-scale religions and their philosophies also have a valuable contribution.


Richard Jordan, International ICT Bridge for Caring Communities (left), echoed the role of spiritual inspiration from nature and the importance of moving from dialogue to action, particularly in implementing the environmental commitments of the Millennium Declaration.

A representative of Iranian youth calls for less talk and more action
Peace and Conflict Prevention

Paul Claval, Universite de Paris-Sorbonne, France, outlined how the dispersal of concentrated energy supplies, development of communications, and role of culture impacts on environmental issues; Geoffrey David Dabelko, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Bahman Baktiari, Department of Political Science, University of Maine, and Jean Fried, Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy.

Paul Claval, Universite de Paris-Sorbonne, France, Geoffrey David Dabelko, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Bahman Baktiari, Department of Political Science, University of Maine, US (left) and Simon Dalby, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Carleton, Canada.
Parallel Session: Dialogue: What it Means, What it Entails
Noel Brown, Friends of the UN, US, Hisae Nakanishi, Nagoya University, Japan, Nay Htun, University of Peace, US, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Harvard Forum on Religion and Ecology, US, Hans Kochler, Leopold Franzens University, Innsbruck, Austria, and Ali Paya, National Research Institute of Science Policy of Iran.

Hisae Nakanishi, University of Nagoya Graduate School of International Development, discussed the difficulties associated with implementing ‘universal' values such as gender equality in different cultures, drawing on her experience in Afghanistan and Japan. Mary Evelyn Tucker, Harvard Forum on Religion and Ecology, pointed out that the only truly shared human value is the continuation of life on Earth. She said we should move beyond individualism and domination of the environment to emphasize participation and kinship with all life systems. Hans Kochler, Chairman of Leopold Franzens University's Department of Philosophy, Innsbruck, Austria, called for the western world to be more self-critical, and for a balanced international order as a fundamental prerequisite of genuine dialogue. He warned that attempts at dialogue will otherwise lack credibility and could generate further conflict. Ali Paya, National Research Institute of Science Policy of Iran, concluded that the choice facing humanity today is one of dialogue or barbarism.

Interactive Discussion and Conclusions

Hans van Ginkel, UNU (right), led the discussion on conclusions, which included five minute presentation of synopsis of working sessions by Chairmen/Facilitators, while Kevin Clemens, Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Queensland University, assisted .
Closing Session
During the Closing Session, Chair Ebtekar (left) thanked all participants and introduced the outcome document – the Tehran Communique. Hans van Ginkel, UNU, summarized the proceedings of the conference.
Wolfgang Burhenne, German Inter-Parliamentary Working Centre Secretary-General, said policymakers must engage in more general dialogues, there must be greater respect given to cultural, religious, historical and other aspects, listening and learning through dialogue and a culture of dialogue must be developed, issues concerning shared resources must be addressed, the Security Council should designate safe havens in times of war for vital natural areas, and world leaders should use dialogue to strengthen solidarity, respect and tolerance and the development of a culture of peace in dialogue.
Alexandre Kiss, European Environmental Law Council (right), said care for the environment is essential due to the growing complexity of problems and underlined the need for a holistic approach. He stressed the need to take preventive approaches and to develop a sense of responsibility starting with individuals.
Adnan Amin, UNEP, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi, and Chair Ebtekar; In his remarks to the Conference, Minister Kharazzi said the Conference signifies that the interaction between environment, peace and security is being appreciated more and more everywhere. He stressed that people have come to realize that the environment is critical to people's lives and it is in real jeopardy.
Chair Ebtekar closed the meeting, expressing hope that this would be only “the end of the beginning” and that the process will continue in the years to come.
Miscellaneous Photos  


Relevant links

United Nations Environment Programme

Iranian Department of Environment

United Nations University


The UN and Global Security

UNEP Post Conflict Assessment Unit

Related Speeches on Dialogue Among Civilizations


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