UNEP renews call for release of Niloufar Bayani, other environmental conservationists



Five years after environmental conservationists, Nilourfar Bayani, and seven were imprisoned and subsequently sentenced to lengthy jail terms in the Republic of Iran, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has renewed its call for clemency and for the safe return home of Bayani, and indeed all environmental conservationists imprisoned in Iran.

In February 2018, Niloufar Bayani and seven environmental conservationists were imprisoned. It has now been five years since her imprisonment. Taking note of the pardons recently issued by the Iranian authorities.

UNEP wishes to recall that between 2012 and 2017, Ms. Bayani worked as a consultant based out of UNEP’s Geneva office. A deeply committed and hardworking colleague, Ms. Bayani focused on enhancing the resilience of communities against disasters and climate change. This mission took Ms. Bayani to countries including Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Ivory Coast and Sri Lanka. She was also lead author of several UNEP publications that examined how the regulatory functions of ecosystems could provide a buffer against disasters.

A conservation biologist by training, however, it was in conserving Iran’s natural heritage and unique species where Ms. Bayani’s heart lay, and in 2017 she returned to her home country to work on efforts to conserve the Persian or Asian Cheetah, one of the most endangered large cat species in the world. Ms. Bayani was arrested in Feb 2018 along with other internationally, recognized experts in the field of nature conservation.

Our natural world is under tremendous pressure. The triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste, threatens to erode decades of progress on poverty reduction and sustainable development. Environmental conservationists are critical allies in protecting the rights of current and future generations to a clean, health and sustainable environment. We cannot build a better future without them.

We at UNEP continue to plea for the release of Ms. Bayani and other conservationists on humanitarian grounds.