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High-level Interactive Dialogue on Sand and Dust Storms

High-level Interactive Dialogue on Sand and Dust Storms

 H.E Syed Ali Mohammad Mosavi, Director General of international affairs of Sustainable Development, Ministary Of Foreign Affairs,


➢ It is an honor and privilege for me to participate in this high-level dialogue on combating dust and sand storms. I urge everyone in this session to take a moment and imagine their own beloved hometowns covered in sand and dust. Environmentalconditions for the Iranian people in terms of clean air have deteriorated to dangerous measures because of negative effects of SDS. 

➢ First, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to H. E. Miroslav Lajcak, the President of the General Assembly, for convening this important and timely event to discuss the challenges of the affected countries,
➢ Combating SDS requires urgent action at all levels due to the huge economic, social and environmental costs involvedIn the past few years, sand and dust storms have posed a serious challenge to the sustainable development of affected countries and regionsinflicting substantial economic, social and environmental damage, especially in Africa and Asia.
➢ A total of 151 countries are affected directly by sand and dust storms. Among them, 45 countries are classified as sand and dust storm source areas. Most of these countries are located in the Asia and Africa regions
➢ SDS has severe, negative multidimensional impacts on our daily lives, including the deterioration of the health, well-being and livelihood of people, increased desertification and land degradation, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and compromised land productivity.
➢ The Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as a part of the global arid belt, is the hotspot of sand and dust storms.Scientific research indicates that 25 tons ofdust per hectare is annually moving around in this region and affects large parts of Kuwait, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and many other countries.
➢ Iran has been severely affected in recent years, as located in the east-west corridor of these storms. Of the 30 provinces in my country, 23 have been directly affected.Eleven percent of our GDP has been lostas a result of SDS-related issues. 
➢ Mortality rates have exponentially increased among coronary, asthma and cancer patients. Civil services are alsosubject to closure without notice. A large population of patients in health care centers and hospitals, in red alertsituations, cripple those centers' normal daily services. The same grim situation is visible in other effected countries in the region.
➢ SDS has a transboundary nature as satellite images and other meteorological data indicate that the bulk of the dust that affects Iran originated from neighboring countries. Therefore, managing and mitigating the negative effects of SDS,especially in our region, is not an option; it is an imperative that needs close regional and sub-regional cooperation and coordination. 

Actions taken by Iran at national and regional levels

➢ Combating sand and dust storms, in both the adaptation and mitigation aspect of it, needs a clear long-term strategy at national, regional and global levels. 
➢ At national level, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has placed strict priority on combating SDS and has allocated a significant amount of financial and technical resources to the task. We have implemented numerous projects jointly with the UN development system.During the last two decades, about 3 million hectares of land has been under intense soil stabilization and sand fixation operations in areas prone to wind erosion. Mulching and wind breaking plantationhave secured a large part of the areas of SDS. We are fully equipped/able to combat this disaster with the help of regional countries, especially in our region, West Asia. 
➢ At the regional level, we have reached agreements with a number of countries to deal with the issue collectively, thus we have a legal framework in place for regional action. However, conflict and unrest in the region has prevented us from addressing the environmental challenges with regards to SDS. 
➢ Tehranwith the cooperation of the UN Environment, UNDP, UN-DESA, as well as other relevant United Nations entities,hosted the International Conference on Combating Sand and Dust Storms held from 3 to 5 July 2017. The outcome of this conferenceMinisterial Declaration and set of technical recommendations,circulated here in the UN. 


Thirdly, the role of UN System: 

➢ We appreciate all of the work done by various UN entities. We thank the work done by the UN Environment and, specifically, Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UNEP, for his exceptionalattention during his trip to the hotspot of SDS in Iran
➢ We also appreciate the work done by ESCAP at the regional level.  At the global level, several resolutions in the General Assembly as well as in ESCAP, UNEP and UNCCD have recognized the importance of the sand and dust storm problems and called for assistance from the UN system
➢ In fact, this event is a result of a modality provided for by last years resolution of the UNGA (A/72/225). Based on thisdocument, the United Nations development system is in the driving seat to prepare a plan of action to address the SDS in terms of recognizing the root causes, mobilizing resources, and bring together all relevant agencies to formulate the best response to the challenge in the effected countries. The UNGA resolution has prepared the ground for concerted efforts by all agencies aimed at urgent action from economic, social and environmental perspectives. 
➢ We welcome the new global coalition on health, environment and climate change launched in May 2018 by the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Environment and the World Meteorological Organization which aims to improve coordination and reduce the annual 12.6 million deaths caused by environmental risks, especially air pollution. 
➢ I would like to stop here, because of the time that was allocated to me, I have some recommendations that I would like to share with you in the second part of the event. 

 Part 2: 

Some action-oriented recommendations:

Based on these experiences and also our task to follow the implementation of the UN resolutions, we believe that the following recommendations could be considered as priorities:


1. Harmonizing and coordinating the efforts of various related UN bodies in order to act in an integrated and inclusive manner through the Inter-Agency task force at the UN-level on sand and dust storms to be managed by the UN Environment. In this regard, we highly appreciate the initiative put forward by Erik Solheim, on stablishing a UN wide coalition on SDSunder the UN Environmental Management Group. 


2. Mobilizing financial resources and technical expertise as well as utilizing lessons learned along with best practices, strengthening monitoring, forecasting, early warning and measuring stations and terminals in the regions needed is of utmost importance. In this regards, the role of the relevant entities of the United Nations, including the WHO, UNEP, UNDP, WMO, UNCCD, UN-DESA, UNISDR, FAO, ESCAP and donors and other financial institutions as well as GCF, GEF to provide capacity-building and technical assistance for combating sand and dust storms and to support the implementation of the national, regional and global action of the affected countries is highly essential. 


3. I would also like to propose the first action plan for affected countries with a special timeline target to be set through the UN agencies.  This action plan could take action-oriented steps to address the economic, social and environmental challenges of the affected countries, including ways to improve policy coordination at the global level to address those challenges to be able to implement the sustainable development goals and targets based on their priorities.



4. Establishing a health-related adaptation task force in the affected countries of the region is vital. Such a task force would help these countries equip and build capacity for their health care centers, enable them with the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to SDS and establish a regional mechanism of finding main and major hotspots to deal with the issue from take-off point and before spreading out to the entire region. Further, it is crucial that the WHO, with the cooperation of other relevant United Nations entities, support affected countries in combating health problems caused by sand and dust storms through initiating an action plan for affected countries. 


5. Combating this borderless phenomenon requires information sharing, dialoguecooperation and coordination among the affected countries. Iran is fully ready to cooperate with regional countries. Multi-hazard risk assessment, alert systems and partnerships are among our top priories. 


Thank you for your attention.

21:24 - 17/07/2018    /    Number : 525251    /    Show Count : 290


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