The fourth “International Sand and Dust Storms Workshop” started today in Istanbul. The workshop will enable countries to share knowledge and experience in search of solutions to reduce the negative impacts of sand and dust storms. The workshop, hosted by the Government of Turkey, will continue until 7 October.
At the press conference held today, Prof. Dr. Veysel Eroglu, the Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs and the President of the Twelfth Conference of Parties (COP 12) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), emphasised that dust and sand storms have global, cross-borders and multidimensional impacts on environment, health, industry, livelihood, urban infrastructure and agriculture. He also pointed that the frequency and intensity of dust and sand storms increased in certain regions including Western Asia in correlation with climate change, drought and land degradation.
Further, Prof. Dr. Eroglu added, “Dust storms cause the loss of approximately 13 billion in Gross Domestic Product per year in Middle East and Northern Africa. Moreover, dust storms negatively impact the air quality. According to the World Health Organisation estimates, 7 million people each year lose their lives because of poor air quality. Immediate measures at both local and global levels are imperative in order to mitigate and reduce the effects of sand and dust storms.”
He reminded in his speech the political commitments by the affected countries in the past years to overcome the problems stemming from sand and dust storms, and expressed that these countries have agreed, within this scope, to co-operate and share knowledge and experience on subjects like environment, regulating air quality, meteorology, combating desertification, forestry, land improvement, erosion control, and reducing sand and dust storms.
Preparations for the “Global Sand and Dust Storms Policy Draft”
On the last year’s United Nations General Assembly adoption on “Combating Sand and Dust Storms” which facilitated an increase in the related works, Prof. Dr. Eroglu commented as follow:
“UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Meeting in Kenya-Nairobi, May 2016, included dust storms in its agenda, and agreed to establish a global research web on “Sand and Dust Storms”. We believe that this workshop will provide a baseline for the Global Sand and Dust Storm Policy Draft”, contribute immensely to future similar works, and strengthen the current regional and international co-operations.”
Strategic Framework on Sand and Dust Storms
The UNEP, the UNCCD and the World Meteorology Organisation (WMO) are currently working on the Global Assessment of Sand and Dust Storms upon the request of the UN General Assembly. During the press conference, Prof. Dr. Eroglu expressed his strong belief that this SDS workshop, organised within the scope of Ankara Initiative during Turkey’s presidency of the Twelfth Conference of Parties to the UNCCD, will contribute greatly to a global strategic framework and guideline on sand and dust storms.
17 Countries to Participate
The co-operative workshop by the General Directorate of Combating Desertification and Erosion and the Directorate General of Meteorology of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs welcomes UN institutions including UNCCD, UNEP, WMO and 53 participants including academics from universities and 30 foreign experts from 17 countries, namely, Afghanistan, Algeria, Chad, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Sudan and Turkmenistan.
Read the original press release by the General Directorate of Combating Desertification and Erosion and the Directorate General of Meteorology of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs (Turkish)