People, Environment

Need for an Environment-Friendly Majlis

Need for an Environment-Friendly MajlisNeed for an Environment-Friendly Majlis

Emphasizing the role of the Majlis (Parliament) in environmental protection, Masoumeh Ebtekar urged the nation to vote for environmentally-conscious candidates in the upcoming elections.

Ebtekar, who is the head of the Department of Environment, described the “crucial elections” as an opportunity to elect “bold and wise legislators to form an environment-friendly Majlis”, ILNA reported.

Ebtekar, who doubles as vice president, rebuked some of the decisions made by the Parliament. She did not go into details, but said the highest law-making institution in the country has the potential to be “either pro-environment or an obstacle to sustainable development”.

“The Majlis has the authority to pass a bill to dissolve the DOE … such a Parliament is by no means environmentally-conscious,” she said.

The vice president warned against politicization of the environment and said that “issues and challenges in this sector must not be misused for political ends”.

Criticizing Ebtekar and her department has become a sort of permanent fixture of conservative lawmakers who pour scorn on the organization and its head whenever they get the opportunity.

Her critics became more vocal in October, when a small group of DOE employees staged a peaceful protest outside the department’s headquarters in Tehran, demanding better pay and work conditions.

The incident received wide coverage in the rightist press and a handful of media outlets were accused of exaggerating the incident. “Environmental conservation transcends petty politics,” Ebtekar said in response to criticism from a group of legislators.

“Some people are trying to take (undue) advantage of the recent protest in which less than 5% of the Tehran Province DOE employees participated.”

She lambasted the “sensationalist media” but noted that every government employee “has a right to voice dismay.” The vice president pointed to the role of local communities in environmental decision-making and called for their cooperation.

“Some environmental challenges have turned into crises which will not be resolved unless the general public, organizations and government bodies cooperate,” she said.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 26, 2016.

Political factions and groups, including ultra-rightists and pro-reform activists have made known their intention to contest the vote termed as “very crucial” by senior authorities of government, state and religion, especially because it is the first general election after the July nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers. The deal is seen as instrumental in helping normalize Tehran’s relations with the outside world in key sectors including the economy, finance, banking and environmental protection.