YES Lab Iran 2016

17. October 2016

This December, a YES lab will be hosted in Iran for the very first time. Iran is a country that is known for its rich culture and history. The Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT) in Tehran has been chosen as venue for the course, which still has some available places. In the following interview, Professor Reza Maknoon, Director of the AUT Office of Sustainability describes which content-related and cultural highlights the participants can look forward to.

YES Lab Iran 2016

What is the story behind the collaboration between YES and your university resulting in the first YES Lab in Iran?
Considering the sustainable development goals (SDGs) on a national and international level as well as governmental environment issues and the obligation that Iran accepted in Paris (four per cent greenhouse gas emission reduction until 2030), low carbon businesses have become a significant topic in Iran. Thus, preparing essential infrastructures is going to be inevitable. Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT), famous for being a pioneer in sustainable development among Iranian universities, sharpened its focus on sustainable development goals (SDGs) since the Paris Agreement in December 2015. 

The YES course is directly related to at least five goals of the SDGs and therefore provides a unique opportunity for students to build capacities for sustainability. So, AUT is proudly hosting this course, which has so far been supported by some of the best universities such as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich and Lausanne), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Tokyo and Chalmers University in Göteborg.

Moreover, Dr. Mohammad reza Alavimoghadam, member of AUT’s faculty, was one of the first Iranian YES-Alumni who participated in the YES Course 2002 in Switzerland. Morteza Nikravan, another YES-Alumnus (YES Japan) and deputy Head of the Sustainability Office at AUT, helped bringing the YES Lab to Iran together with a group of former Iranian YES participants. Finally, the AUT also sees this YES Lab as a first step to teach Iranian entrepreneurs on how to implement sustainability in their business ideas. 

What do you expect from the YES Lab in Iran?
We expect the YES Lab to spark inspiration, ideas and provide inputs for topics like:
1.    Innovative ideas on climate change solution 
2.    Best practice waste management cases for the waste problems in northern Iran
3.    Integrated approaches for the nexus of waste and water
4.    Teaching tools and methods for capacity building to the students

What is the importance of sustainability issues in Iran, a country known for its rich resources and dependence on fossil energies?
After the COP 21 climate conference in Paris and the SDGs, Iran started to pursue a holistic approach for more sustainability on the national and regional level. Let me illustrate that with some examples:

  • Iran voluntarily reduces four per cent of its Greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This has been determined for each sector of the economy.
  • For 17 Goals of SDGs, 17 Ministry are being appointed as responsible organizations to implements necessary methods and follow the goals. Public sectors and NGOs are involved in all areas.
  • Universities will be involved as well in elaborating ideal methods for implementation through research and innovation.
  • Solar and wind energy can be provided rather easily in Iran and should thus be used to replace the fossil fuel.

The cultural exchange is a vital part of a YES Lab. What is there to expect for the participants? What do you think is special in Iran?
We hope that the experience in the YES lab Iran will foster international cultural exchange. Iran has great cultural and natural heritage, which is also recognized by UNESCO. This aspect could play an important role in presenting the history of the region to young people who gather here from all over the world.

Which YES Lab Iran topic are you most excited about?
For this Lab, we want to work out various aspects of waste issues. For example, 30 per cent of all food produced in Iran ends up as food waste. As a consequence an equal 30 per cent of the water that is used for food production is wasted. Further more, waste disposal in landfills leads to water pollution.


The YES Lab Iran will take place from December 4 – 17 at the campus of the Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT) in Teheran. Challenges like energy system transformations, use of resources, urban and rural infrastructures will be discussed and furthermore models for businesses, regions, and societies in a low-carbon world will be explored. About 30 students and young professionals from all over the world will gather in Iran, the country of four seasons, which is also well known for its rich history and as key player in global energy and resource transformations.

In the YES labs students and young professionals develop answers to sustainability challenges on-site and at home. The intensive two weeks labs build mind-sets and skill-sets for a sustainable future. The unique YES learning approach is practical, empowering, interdisciplinary and intercultural – a truly creative exercise in applied diversity. Since 2000, 44 YES labs have been realized in 13 countries.

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