Economy, Domestic Economy

German Expert Calls for Action to Save Lake Urmia

German Expert Calls for Action to Save Lake UrmiaGerman Expert Calls for Action to Save Lake Urmia

Germany’s former environment minister Klaus Topfer  in a meeting with the governor of East Azerbaijan Province Ismael Jabbarzadeh on Monday said, “The time for talking has passed, it is time to take action to prevent an ecological disaster” following the desiccation of Lake Urmia.

He urged the officials to raise awareness and promote public cooperation in order to tackle the issue, ISNA news agency reported. Topfer, who has also served as the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, deemed the drying of lakes an international issue, stressing the importance of combating such crises as soon as possible.

Reiterating the gravity of the situation, he said, “So far the desiccation of Lake Urmia has not received the global coverage it deserves. For Iran to receive international aid to deal with the problem, the world first needs to be apprised of the scale and scope of the problem."

Calling the revival efforts a sign of peace, he asserted that restoring Lake Urmia could bring people of neighboring countries together around a common goal. "This could help underpin Iran’s peaceful activities and international relations."

Until the late 1990s, the lake's high water level was considered a threat and levees were installed to prevent its water from gushing onto roads. Years of mismanagement and steep decline in rainfall, however, gradually turned the Middle East's largest lake into a huge dry plain with patches of water. Desiccation of the lake has caused it to become a major source of sand and salt storms which threaten the health of the locals.

The Rouhani administration has made the revival of the lake a top priority, as evidenced by the establishment of the Urmia Lake Restoration Program shortly after he took office in mid-2013.