The non-governmental Center for Peace and Environment (CPE) held its annual awards ceremony in Tehran last night. Former President Seyed Mohammad Khatami who had taken part in the previous years was not available. After announcing his candidacy for the up-coming Presidential elections, he has started his provincial visits and yesterday he began a 3-day trip to visit people in Fars, Bushehr and Kohkilouye Boyerahmad three important provinces of Iran. Many predict that the provincial visits of Khatami will create a favorable atmosphere for the reform campaign in Iran. However, pressures and smearing campaigns have also been underway against him during these days and this has created more popularity for Khatami among the young people. His campaign trail is worth following these days.
In the awards ceremony Professor Mohammad Soltanieh was awarded the Prominent Researcher Award for 35 years of devoted research work in the field of air pollution and climate change. Dr. Soltanieh was also a member of the leading team of scholars of the IPCC , the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that received the Noble Peace prize in 2008.
A provincial activist from Gorgan and an NGO from Azerbaijan were also recognized by the Board of Referees for their significant activities in this field. Two environmental journalists also received a prize for their efforts in reporting on environmental issues.
I spoke on the importance of recognizing the work of environmental activists and criticised the government for its lack of insight and action for the environmental cause. I called upon NGOs and media to question Presidential candidates about their environmental policies and to evaluate candidates on the basis of their perspectives and policies on sustainable development.