First UK - Iran science and research cooperation in 7 years

Monday 25 January 2016
  • Researchers from Iran and the UK will meet in London today at the first official research symposium in seven years
  • The event will promote  knowledge exchange and new collaboration in science with Iran, a country with a strong history of scientific research
  • Science and innovation provide a powerful platform to share expertise, foster cooperation and build understanding and trust between the UK and Iran

40 researchers and senior academics from the UK and Iran will meet in London today (Monday 25 January), to share expertise around water resource management.  With recent improvements in international relations with Iran, this event is the first scientific symposium between the two countries since 2009.

The workshop theme of water resource management is of global significance, with water security being an issue for both Iran and the UK, despite recent flooding in the UK. The 2015 United Nations World Water Development Report outlined how water management is essential for sustainable development. Water resources never respect international boundaries, with challenges associated with sourcing, sustainability, conservation, contamination and waste disposal being key sources of contention between nations. International research is therefore key to finding international solutions.

The event, organized by Dr Kaveh Madani from the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, UK, is in partnership with the British Council as part of the Researcher Links programme, which brings together researchers from countries which do not have a tradition of working closely together on research projects. Considering Iran’s strength in scientific research, there is a call for stronger links between scientific institutions in the UK and Iran.

Researcher Links offers opportunities to facilitate research collaboration beyond traditional regional partnerships, through thematic workshops and travel grants. It helps develop a deeper and more friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and its partner countries. It also helps to develop early career researchers to follow an international research career, and build strong relationships for the longer term.

Dr Fatemeh Ahmadi, Science, Research and Higher Education Manager, British Council Iran said,

“The UK and Iran are both very strong in terms of scientific research. We are delighted that by bringing together the best researchers and institutions in both countries through the British Council’s series of researcher workshops, we are able to support the development of greater cooperation and collaboration which will benefit both countries. We hope that as a result of this event we will see more collaboration on shared scientific interests between the UK and Iran.”

Dr. Kaveh Madani, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London said,

“Water shortage is a global challenge and a good cause to help us unite and plan for more effective scientific exchanges that help securing sustainable water resources worldwide. Both Iran and UK recognise water security as an essential element to sustainable development. Iran is well-known for its historic innovative water management methods and UK is recognized for its valuable contributions to the water resources management field. We have a lot to exchange and learn from each other. This is, hopefully, just a start of a long and fruitful journey”

Dr. Farhad Yazdandoost, a senior academic joining the workshop from Iran’s K.N.Toosi University of Technology said,

“Water, with its multi-faceted nature, can no longer be taken for granted as a readily available natural resource. As the pure essence of life, water can act as a binding factor between nations, thereby cooperating on addressing its many similar challenges and building on available knowledge and best practices. The auspicious occasion of the researcher links workshop on water management is hoped to serve as a platform for future mutual scientific cooperation on this extremely worthy cause and lay the foundation for collaboration to attend to the needs of the lesser developed communities in this regard.” 

Danny Whitehead, Director British Council Iran said,

“Stimulating science and research dialogue is a critically important way to exchange knowledge and build a greater level of trust between the UK and Iran. Educational cooperation and collaboration is a powerful way to build a deeper and more friendly knowledge and understanding of different cultures and nations.”

The workshop will bring in established researchers from the UK, Iran and the US to support the early career researchers. Water resource management was selected as the theme as both countries are challenged with identifying sustainable water resources development and management pathways, allowing for strong mutual benefit and the potential for sustained interaction.

The workshop will cover a range of topics of global importance, including drought management, climate change, water/food security and water conflicts. It will also contain professional development and capacity building sessions for early career researchers.

Notes to Editor

British Council Researcher Links utilises the common ground of shared research interests to provide a forum for early career researchers from the UK and abroad to interact, learn from each other and explore opportunities for building long-lasting research collaborations.

They do so under the guidance of, established researchers in the UK and partner countries, with activity selected on the basis of mutual benefit, research quality and potential for sustainable interactions.

Researcher Links comprises thematic workshops and travel grants, and is co-funded by British Council and partner organisations. 

The value of international collaboration:

International collaboration has been shown to improve the quality of research, with citation rates increasing with international co-authorship, and higher productivity levels of internationally mobile researchers. The UK has just 1% of the world’s population, but produces 14% of the most highly cited articles (second to the US). The UK is a world leader in terms of quality of research in many areas, including biological sciences, environmental sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Iran’s scientific output has been growing strongly over the past ten years and has recently overtaken Turkey in terms of numbers of scientific publications, rising from 4,676 articles in 2005 to 25,588 in 2014, according to the UNESCO World Science Report 2015. Iran has particular strengths in engineering, chemistry and physical sciences.

About the British Council

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