“Iran is one of the top six countries in the world in the field of water science and technology,” Mohammad Hemmat, director of the president’s Water, Climate and Environment Headquarters, claimed in an interview with Tasnim news agency on April 26.
“In 2021, Iran was among the top six countries in the field of water science and technology, and only China, the United States, India, Britain and Germany ranked higher than Iran in this field,” he said. “This is something to be very proud of.”
He based this claim on a report by Scopus, a scientific abstract and citation database, and its affiliated website SCImago that ranks scholarly journals, and said, “This ranking is important and indisputable because it has been put forward by Scopus and its indexing site SCImago.” “Therefore, Iran’s official sources of statistics cannot be accused of faking or reporting wrong statistics,” he concluded.
Is Iran really one of the six top countries in the world in the field of water science and technology? In this report, IranWire tries to answer this question.
Iran is not among the top-ranking countries in the field of water science and technology. What Mohammad Hemmat claims is actually based on the number of scientific articles on this topic that have been published in Iran, even though he obfuscates this important distinction.
In 2022, Iran was one of the top 20 countries in terms of the number of published scientific articles in the field of technology in general, and they were not necessarily related to water technology. Clearly, this is very different from Iran’s capabilities in this field.
In the Global Innovation Index 2022, Iran ranks 17th among countries regarding the number of scientific articles produced.
Iran ranks 51st in the overall ranking in terms of innovation in 2022 and 93rd in the field of environment. In SCImago’s ranking, Iran is placed 12th in terms of the number of published scientific articles in the field of water science and technology, after the United States, China, Germany, Britain, India, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain and Japan.
Ranking of Iranian Universities in the Fields of Environment and Water
A review of the ranking of Iranian universities in the field of water technology and the environment shows that in 2021 none of them were among the world’s top-ranking universities in this field.
SCImago has not explicitly ranked universities in the field of water technology. It ranks Isfahan University of Technology as the top Iranian university in agriculture and forestry, but this university is ranked between 201 and 250 among the best universities in the world. The universities of Tehran, Shiraz, Tarbiat Modarres in Tehran and Ferdowsi in Mashhad are also among the best universities in this field in Iran.
In the field of environment, another water-related field, SCImago gives Iran’s Institute for Color Science and Technology the rank of 105 among the best educational institutions in this field.
On the other hand, in its ranking for the best universities in the world in the field of hydrology and water management, EduRank ranks Tehran University 75th among the 100 best universities in the world, 12th among best universities in Asia and first among Iranian universities. No other Iranian university is in the list.
Ranking of Scientific Publications in Iran
SCImago has not included any Iranian publication among its 100 best scientific journals in the field of environment. In its list of 246 scientific journals, Iranian journals Water and Nanotechnology, ranked 179, Environmental Studies, ranked 207, and Advances in Environmental Technology, ranked 216.
Has Iran Contributed Anything to Water Technology?
As we mentioned earlier, Iran ranks 10 in the world in terms of the number of published scientific articles in the field of water technology, but this does not mean that the country has contributed anything to the advancement of water technology and management.
The World Economic Forum has identified the 10 most innovative freshwater projects in the world and they originated in Switzerland, the United States, India, Argentina, Kenya, Canada and Singapore. Also, the World Bank has published a list of 14 innovative projects to advance water sustainability – in the United States, India, Canada, Bangladesh, Sweden, Kenya, Ghana and Singapore.
Scientific articles by Iranians in the field of water management have not even led to availability of high-quality drinking water for Iranians. In its 2023 report on water quality by country, the UN World Population Review ranks Iran 70th among 180 countries.
In the map below, the darker the color the higher is the quality of water.
Management of water resources and the availability of domestic freshwater resources is another area where Iran is not doing so well. IndexMundi, a data portal, ranks Iran 111th among 180 countries in terms of renewable internal freshwater resources (river flows and groundwater from rainfall) per capita. And the World Resources Institute ranks Iran 24th among the world’s most water-stressed countries.
The map below shows that Iran suffers from “extremely high” levels of baseline water stress, meaning that “more than 80 percent of the water available to agricultural, domestic, and industrial users is withdrawn annually – leaving businesses, farms, and communities vulnerable to scarcity.”
Mohammad Hemmat, director of the president’s Water, Climate and Environment Headquarters, claims that “Iran is one of the top six countries in the world in the field of water science and technology.”
This claim is far from reality. In fact, Hemmat’s claim does not refer to technological advances in water management or innovations but to the number of scientific articles on water science published in Iran. And even in this field, Iran is not among the six top-ranking countries in the world.
As reported by Scopus and SCImago, which Hemmat refers to, in 2021 Iran ranked 12th in terms of the number of published scientific articles in the field of water technology, but these articles have not led to actual innovations and advancements that could place Iran among the top countries.
IranWire’s research shows that:
- Tehran University ranks 75th among the top 100 countries in the world in the field of water management.
- No Iranian university is among the top 100 universities in the world in the field of environment. The best Iranian scientific journal in this field ranks 196th among 246 scientific journals in the world.
- No Iranian project is among the 10 most innovative freshwater projects in the world.
- Iran ranks 70 among 180 countries in terms of the availability of freshwater.
- Iran ranks 24th among the 30 most water-stressed countries in the world.
- Iran ranks 51st in the overall ranking in terms of innovation in 2022 and 93rd in the field of environment.
IranWire thus rates the claims by Hemmat that Iran is one of the top six countries in the world in the field of water science and technology as “not true.”
Not True: a false claim about a specific new event or something that has not been proven to be true using existing facts and evidence.
You can read about our fact-checking methodology here. See more fact-check reports on Iran-Wire.