Sand and Dust Storms Coalition launched at COP14

in session

New Delhi, India – “Today, we focus on sand and dust storms (SDS), a phenomena severely and increasingly affecting 151 countries  in Africa, Asia, North America and Australia,” said UNCCD Executive Secretary in his opening remarks at the Sand and Dust Storms Day 6 September at UNCCD COP14. 

The day was marked by the launch of a new international coalition to strengthen coordinated action on SDS, which have damaging transboundary impacts on human health, the environment and key economic sectors. Highlighting the need to address SDS in both source and destination countries, Argentina proposed that the UNCCD direct its resources towards strengthening synergistic approaches to drought management, one of the main causes of SDS.

During the meeting, China called for robust international collaboration, especially developing joint standards on SDS intensity and undertaking large-scale interventions. India, the host country of the UNCCD COP14, presented its plan to develop SDS guidance for its states, while Iran reminded the participants that the rich body of traditional and modern knowledge on SDS hot spots could help create a stronger knowledge base regional initiatives. 

One of the new coalition's focus areas will be the development of the SDS source base map to improve monitoring of SDS and develop better response. 

The coalition includes UNEnvironment, International Civil Aviation Organization, UN-Habitat, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, World Meteorological Organization, World Health Organization, UN Development Programme, World Bank, International Union for Conservation of Nature, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations Institute for Training and Research and International Telecommunication Union.

Other highlights of the day

  • Land tenure was actively discussed by the participants. They echoed the importance of land governance in creating an enabling environment for sustainable land management and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals  
  • Barron Orr, UNCCD Lead Scientist, at the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) contact group commented: “I want to take my Secretariat hat off, and speak to you as a scientist. Maybe you are not aware, but what you have accomplished here by creating a bridge between science and policy decisions is huge, and I thank you for that” 
  • The CST adopted six draft decisions: items resulting from the work programme of the Science-Policy Interface (SPI) for the previous (2018-2019) and future biennium (2020-2021); interfacing science and policy and sharing knowledge; and the programme of work for CST15. At the successful completion of the CST work, Chair Fiati said that the excellent quality of decisions demonstrated parties’ determination and cooperation. The CST was able to elect its officers except the Chair for CST15 
  • Towards the end, a brief plenary session adopted the report of the CST as well as a procedural decision on credentials of delegations
  • In other contact group sessions, there was progress on budget and financing texts and consideration began of the cluster of decisions relating to UNCCD policy advocacy frameworks on gender, drought, migration and sand and dust storms 

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