French Minister Discusses Environmental Challenges in Tehran

Segolene Royal (L) and Massoumeh Ebtekar in Tehran on August 28.Segolene Royal (L) and Massoumeh Ebtekar in Tehran on August 28.

French Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Minister Segolene Royal announced on Sunday in Tehran her government's intention to partner with Iran to address energy, water and pollution problems.

Royal, who arrived late Saturday for a three-day visit, is leading a delegation comprised of the top brass of major environmental and renewable energy firms, including the boss of multinational firm Engie. Speaking at a press conference at the headquarters of the Department of Environment in West Tehran, the minister said the firms "were chosen by Iran based on the challenges they face," including inefficiency in the energy sector, air pollution and water shortages.

"We will also discuss avenues of cooperation in meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement as well as Iran's environmental concerns including energy efficiency, water management and dust storms," said Massoumeh Ebtekar, a vice president and head of the DOE. Royal said that her country will participate in the 16th International Environment Exhibition in Tehran in February and noted that the event provides further opportunities for bilateral cooperation.

She said she would return in February to discuss the progress on the partnerships. Royal also expressed hope that her country would expand its environmental cooperation with the University of Tehran, especially in the field of biodiversity. A meeting with the president of university was scheduled for later that day.

The French minister was expected to visit Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran today (August 29). Iran has been working hard to revive the lake, which has lost more than 90% of its water due to climate change, excessive dam construction and wasteful farming practices. Royal said France is assisting with the restoration effort but did not provide specifics. "We will offer Iran our cutting-edge technology and recent advancements in agricultural engineering," she said, pointing specifically to her country's know-how in producing eco-friendly pesticides and growing water-efficient crops.