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: 




The International Conference on “Environment, Peace, and the Dialogue among Civilizations and Cultures” opened on Monday, 9 May, 2005 , in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran. In the morning, Seyed Mohammad Khatami, President of Iran, Massoumeh Ebtekar, Vice-President of Iran, and Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director, gave opening addresses to participants at the Pardisan Eco Park . This was followed by a brief organizational session and a general session on the issues of environment, peace and dialogue among civilizations and cultures.

In the afternoon, discussions were held at the Azadi Grand Hotel, where a special high-level interactive ministerial roundtable was held on the rationale for the conference and a way forward. Parallel working group sessions, each followed with interactive discussions, were also held in the afternoon. Working group sessions were held on environment and conflict, the impact of the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf conflict and environmental protection and international law.


Inaugural Session

Participants stand for the national anthem of Iran and Seyed Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Vice-President, Minister of Environment and Chair of the Conference Massoumeh Ebtekar and President Khatami (left) and President Khatami with Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director.
Recitation of the Holy Qur'an
Vice-President and Conference Chair Ebtekar emphasized the need for dialogue, peace and understanding for maintaining a global order for peace and sustainable development. She stressed that the world is at a sensitive juncture with many wars in the past few decades, noting that political and environmental instability have led to inevitable consequences. She highlighted that dialogue opens new doors to international cooperation and decision-making, which is not dependent on diplomacy or military action.
UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer (right) delivered a message from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcoming the conference's work on the links between environment and peace and the importance of dialogue between civilizations and cultures. He said people share a common humanity and common dependence on the environment and need a clean environment to build a world of peace freedom and dignity. He then gave remarks on behalf of UNEP, stressing that dialogue and understanding are keys to tolerance. He stressed the need for common security through peace, environment, social justice and sustainable development and said sustainable development policy is akin to a peace policy for the future.
President Khatami said that any restructuring of the UN should be based on a global consensus and a democratic process taking into account the rights and views of developing nations. He said that cooperation on shared environmental problems can lead to increased friendship, ties and understanding between nations.
Musicians play traditional Iranian music
Introductory Session
Ambassador Bagher Asadi and Conference Chair Massoumeh Ebtekar reported on the structure of the Conference and the expected outcomes
General Session: Problematique

Hans D'Orville, UNESCO, Panel Chair Wafiq Kamil, Mojtaba Kazazi, UN, and Oliver Brown, International Institute for Sustainable Development.


Oliver Brown, International Institute for Sustainable Development (left), spoke on the steady progress since Stockholm 1972 on the Human Environment. He said three perspectives have been prominent in the analysis of the relationship between environment and security: conflicts arise over competition for scarce resources; environmental conflict is linked to a society's transition from a subsistence economy to a market economy; and violence in many developing countries occurs when different groups attempt to gain control of abundant resources. Panel Chair Wafiq Kamil (center); and Hans D'Orville, UNESCO Bureau of Strategic Planning (right), said dialogue lies at the core of the UN mandate and is highlighted in the constitution of UNESCO. He said in a complex, multifaceted global community no single civilization can assume sole responsibility for humanity nor exclusively define how to be a human being. Given this diversity, he said a common understanding of universal values such as human rights and democratic practices has been a major achievement. He urged the international community to deepen understanding of shared values and concepts, to reduce divisiveness, and to help tackle prejudice, ignorance and intolerance.

Special High-Level Interactive Ministerial Roundtable "Why the Tehran Conference: the way forward"
Vice-President and Conference Chair Ebtekar (left), Iran 's long history of dialogue between cultures, and respect for diversity and the environment. She suggested that existing mechanisms to govern conflict should be revisited and strengthened to include environmental protection, and Panel Chair Phillippe Roch, State Secretary, Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscapes (right), spoke of the environment as the basis for all cultures, and said the principles of dialogue, respect and harmony should be integral to globalization.
Hans van Ginkel, United Nations University, and Kevin Clemens, Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Queensland University (left) and Tanzanian Environment Minister Arcado Ntagazwa (right).
Parallel Working Session I: Environment and Conflict
Emma Nicholson, Member of the European Parliament, spoke on the impact of armed conflict on the Marsh people of southern Iraq (left) and Chair Anthony Hill (center), and Mostafa Mohaghegh-Damad, on Environmental protection in Islamic Culture.
Nils Petter Gleditsch, International Peace Research Institute of Oslo, discussed the environment and conflict, and Mohiaddin Meshabi, Florida International University, discussed the prioritization of environment and security issues within and among civilizations.
Parallel Working Session II: The Impact of the Second Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) on the marine environment

Parvin Parshchi, Iranian Department of Environment, outlined the billon-dollar claim for environmental damages sought by Iran from Iraq through the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC).

Afshin Daneh-kar, Iranian Department of the Environment, addressed the adverse impacts of military activities on the mangrove forest communities of the Northern Perisan Gulf area. He outlined the importance of mangroves within the ecosystem and the dramatic losses in Iranian mangroves from 1990-2001. He said a significant amount of these losses can be attributed to the Gulf War of 1991, when oil, smoke and soot were released and for months war conditions prevented rehabilitation.

Hayder M. Abdul-Hameed, Department of Environmental Engineering, University of Baghdad, outlined the environmental and health effects of several weapons used during the 2002 war in Iraq. He stressed the problems associated with dust carrying depleted uranium, and linked depleted uranium to Iraq's dramatic rise in infertility, miscarriages, and unusual diseases such as leukemia, skin cancers and respiratory diseases.

Parallel Working Session III: Protection of Environment and International Law

Barbara Janusz, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (left), discussed progress in dialogue on environmental issues to deepen cooperation and prevent regional conflicts. Said Mahmoudi, Stockholm University (center), discussed how international law relates to the environmental protection during armed conflict. Pekka Haavisto, UNEP (right), discussed his organization's work on conflict, environmental destruction and post-conflict situations, highlighting work in such places as the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Iraq, and Liberia.

Antonio Marquina Barrio, Complutense University, discussed environmental challenges, reviewing the challenges to state security that are related to the environment.
Klaus Toepfer and Vice-President and Conference Chair Ebtekar meet with members of the press
Klaus Toepfer and Chair Ebtekar speak with members of the press.
Biodiversity Museum
Miscellaneous Photos
Photos from the dinner hosted by Vice-President Ebtekar


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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