Qanat system is an outstanding technological and cultural achievement in the history of civilizations illustrating such indigenous knowledge for water scarcity adaptation in West Asia. Qanats provide evidence of smart harmony of nature and civilizations, spread from ancient Persia, where it originated from, throughout historical ages to many nations all over the world, particularly those in arid and semi-arid areas.
Precious water is collected, transferred, and supplied by mere gravity over long distances using Qanats (also called kariz, lyoun, aflaj) based on a complex engineering system and sophisticated techniques over centuries and even millennia. It is not only an engineering masterpiece, but it has also inspired the creation of a dryland lifestyle, architecture and landscape. Qanat structures are associated with non-structural and traditional communal management systems that allow sustainable and safe access to water for human settlements.
The Islamic Republic of Iran formally proposed the establishment of the International Centre on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures (ICQHS) in Yazd under the auspices of UNESCO and also submitted a detailed proposal when I was serving as the elected Vice-Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO-IHP for Asia/Pacific region and a member of the IHP Bureau. The executive board at its 167th session (September 2003) approved the proposal and submitted it to the General Conference at its 32nd session (October 2003) for an agreement to be reached for establishing the Centre. The agreement has been signed between Ministry of Energy of Iran and Director-General of UNESCO on 26 March 2005. This leads Iran to be recognized as the first and only country successfully hosting two water-related UNESCO Centres following the establishment of the Regional Centre on Urban Water Management (RCUWM) in Tehran, February 2002.
I believe ICQHS in Yazd could act as a knowledge-hub for promotion of research and capacity-building on Qanats and other traditional historic hydraulic structures for sustainable development in its new period of activities. The governing board of the Cntre provides a unique opportunity to promote International cooperation on indigenous knowledge of sustainable water management.
Minister of Energy of I.R. Iran, Chairman of the ICQHS Governing Board