Time to Assign Responsibility

Time to Assign Responsibility Time to Assign Responsibility

A lack of organizational structure has made tackling environmental woes, which is already a tough task, a more daunting objective.

“Clearly-defined roles and responsibilities are paramount in improving environmental conditions; however, those responsible are not precisely aware of their duties,” Mohammad Mehdi Golmakani, director of the Environment and Sustainable Development Headquarters at Tehran Municipality, said at a meeting on Thursday in Tehran.

As a sprawling metropolis, Tehran is expected to deal effectively with environmental problems, but addressing such issues has become difficult because organizations and departments involved in urban management seem not have a clear set of responsibilities.

“Environmental issues in Tehran are either left with no organization to deal with them, or they have been assigned to many ostensibly responsible bodies. In either case, the issues remain unresolved and worsen,” he said.

The most recent example of a lack of concerted effort to address one environmental problem is the issue of whiteflies, which swarmed the Iranian capital during the warmer months and irritated the Tehran residents for months.

The Department of Environment and TM clashed on the matter, with each side holding the other accountable. The tug-of-war dragged out for so long that nature had to intervene, as it was a drop in temperature that rid Tehran of its unwelcome guests.

  Strategic Plan

To assign duties and responsibilities, the municipality is working on a so-called strategic plan for the environment. “The plan aims to establish environmental responsibilities for every organization managed by the TM,” Golmakani said.

As part of the plan, TM officials must first chart out the municipality’s environmental responsibilities before notifying it among its subdivisions.

“Every subdivision has to come up with a plan based on its strengths and weaknesses to tackle the problems assigned to them,” he added.

According to Golmakani, the plan is in line with a recent decree by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who ordered the three branches of the government — the Rouhani administration, Parliament and Judiciary — last month to uphold sustainability as a priority and strive to develop a green economy.

“We devised a similar plan last year, with special focus on improving the municipality’s environmental management. The plan is currently in effect,” he said.

Given Tehran’s plethora of worsening environmental problems, such as the toxic levels of smog that has blanketed the city for more than two weeks, it would be fair to claim that the municipality’s plan, and indeed, the city’s environmental policies, is going nowhere.