Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project (CIWP) is a joint initiative between the Government of Islamic Republic of Iran (led by the Department of Environment), Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which started in 2005 and was scheduled to end in April 2013. But to draw on the recommendations of Terminal Evaluation on sustainability of results for ensuring that CIWP’s outcomes are systematically up-scaled both vertically and horizontally, a scale-up phase was approved by Department of Environment and UNDP to continue and fulfill the achievements of CIWP. Along with this scale up phase a project entitled “Modelling Local Community Participation in Restoration of Lake Urmia through Establishment of Sustainable Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation” was added to CIWP in 2014 as a new component with financial support of the government of Japan.

The successful completion of the Conservation of Iranian Wetlands project (CIWP) by 2015 led to the formulation of Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project (Phase II) and the Restoration of Lake Urmia, which aimed to sustain CIWP achievements and upscale its outcomes by addressing terminal evaluation recommendations concerning sustainability of results and application of complementary tools and mechanisms. It supports development and implementation of Wetlands Integrated Management Plans through inter-sectoral coordination structures for more than 20 Iranian wetlands and puts in place a strong wetlands ecosystem management legislative platform and inter-sectoral administrative structures at national level, supporting implementation of the ‘’Ecosystem Approach’’ in the wetlands and shares the CIWP and other wetlands initiatives, knowledge and lessons learnt with the regions of South and Central Asia, as well as modeling local community participation in Lake Urmia restoration through establishment of sustainable agriculture practices and biodiversity conservation. In the component which is related to LU restoration there has been a strong focus on capacity building and training as the main tools of development projects with participatory approach. This occurred through different small projects and activities on various areas which strengthen people’s participation and involvement including alternative and sustainable livelihood, micro-credit funds, Participatory Technology Development (PTD), and Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES).

Since 2005 the project managed and secured more than USD 10.26 million of investment from international resources and USD 17.5 million from the Government for the conservation of Iranian wetlands. The project has successfully introduced integrated and participatory ecosystem-based approaches for conservation of Iran’s wetlands while have raised the capacity of more than 500 experts from Department of Environment.