عنوان مقاله [English]
Todays, due to the human desire to maximize extraction of available resources, the world is facing so many environmental threats in terms of pollution in various spheres of the planet. Hydrosphere is one of the most important areas of the biosphere that has suffered most damages from this phenomenon. As a coastal country, Iran is also struggling with problems related to water pollutants and the use of shared resources in its three territorial waters. Khazar is one of these triple territorial waters. The five littoral states of the Caspian Sea disagreements about division of the territorial waters have led many of its problems to be ignored. Environmental crises are the most important of these issues that have had a huge negative impact on the lives and economies of people living in the coastal regions of the sea. Furthermore, contrary to reluctances of states to give up their sovereignty claims in this subject, environmental issues are categorized in low politics, and states show less sensitivity in cooperation on these matters. So, the environmental problems of the Caspian Sea could serve as a platform for initiation of cooperation between coastal states, its expansion to other fields and finally the intensification of convergence between the states. Therefore, the main question of the present article is what kinds of unsought crises can be considered in Iran’s environmental diplomacy agenda with the Caspian Sea littoral states and thereby intensify the convergence with these countries?
To answer this question, first we looked at the concept of environmental diplomacy and its relation to cooperation issue in international politics from a functionalist perspective, and showed that the main reason for the relative failures of these long-term negotiations have been the question of how to divide the sea waters and what is the share of each state in this territory; That is, the issue is contained under the high politics. The sensitivity of coastal states to this issue has left many other problems and issues unresolved. The environmental problems of the Caspian Sea are among these problems; Coastal governments, however, have paid much more attention to other issues over the past four decades. For instance, in 2003, they signed the Caspian Sea Environmental Protocol called the Tehran Convention and entered it into force in 2006; and with the signing of Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea in 2018, they tried to solve some of these problems. However, many of these problems still remain or have not been addressed at all. According to the classical theory of convergence, it seems that further attention to the environmental issues of the Caspian Sea, as issues in the field of low politics, can be one of the starting points for intensifying the level of convergence between five coastal states in order to reach a full and comprehensive agreement on the legal regime of the Caspian Sea.
To solve these problems and expand cooperation based on Tehran Convention - as an appropriate legal and political framework that is the product of years of diplomatic negotiations - We have to answer the question, how can this environmental regime be developed? A development that, according to previous statements, helps to intensify convergence. It seems that most of the solutions and environmental negotiations on this matter have been based on planned and centrist policies; because many problems in the negotiation process have been considered insignificant and have not been raised, or there has been no awareness to them at all. Therefore, in our opinion, it is logical that in order to overcome the policy-making weakness in this specialized field, one should refer to experts and specialists who have been directly confronted with the environmental problems of the Caspian Sea for professional reasons.
In order to identify the problems that should be included in the future agenda of Iran’s environmental diplomacy in the Caspian Sea based on Delphi method, we tried to gather a panel of experts; those who directly faced with environmental problems of the sea for professional reasons or during their research in the three coastal provinces (Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan). Using the snowball method, 34 professionals and experts were invited to participate; but only 9 of them continued cooperation until the end of the research and sent their questionnaires. They were asked: 1) in the direct confrontation with the ecosystem of the Caspian Sea and neighboring provinces of the sea, what kinds of environmental problems you have faced? Problems that originate from littoral states pollutant sources and wrong extraction of natural and mineral resources by these countries? 2) What actions have been taken by the government’s Department of Environment or its provincial branches in Golestan, Mazandaran and Gilan or other organizations and the government itself to solve these environmental problems regarding the two above-mentioned subjects at the international level? 3) What kind of problems have been ignored by government’s Department of Environment in these two areas that are common between Iran and other coastal countries, or the Department is unaware of ?
They identified 11 pollutant sources and 7 crises due to wrong exploitation of natural and biological resources of the sea and seabed. While expressing Iran’s achievements and constructive actions in this field, they brought up 12 important problems that had been ignored by the coastal states or had not been paid attention to. We have also proposed a series of diplomatic solutions to each of these problems, which we have finally grouped them into five general axes: 1) to establish an environmental diplomacy center under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; 2) proposing a plan to establish International Organization of Caspian Sea (IOCS) ; 3) Participation of non-governmental environmental experts and institutions in Iran’s public diplomacy with the Caspian Sea littoral states; 4) Implementation and promotion of Tehran Convention protocols; and 5) Proposing and following-up of “Joint Environmental Audit on Caspian Sea”, “Preservation of the hydrological characteristics of the Caspian Sea”, “Nuclear safety of the Caspian Sea” and “compliance with environmental standards in exploration, extraction and transportation of oil and gas resources in the Caspian Sea and its continental shelf and Seabed” protocols in order to annex them to Tehran Convention.