30-31 January 2018 – Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran – The High-level regional conference on information management for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience took place on 30-31 January 2018 in Tehran, with a strong focus on regional cooperation for combating sand and dust storms (SDS) in Asia and the Pacific. SDS along with drought, land degradation and desertification, as well as wind and soil erosion, present a formidable challenge to sustainable development. Approximately two trillion tons of dust are emitted into the atmosphere each year, creating SDS threat that negatively impacts agriculture and livelihoods in many areas and regions in Asia and the Pacific. Today, disaster risks are outpacing disaster resilience, and the gap is growing in the countries with the least capacity to prepare for or respond to disasters.
Opening the conference, the Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Dr. Shamshad Akhtar emphasized that disasters impede the social and economic development of nations and communities at a global scale. She also underlined the importance of finding sustainable solutions to address the SDS risks in the highly vulnerable Asia-Pacific region.
UNESCAP together with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has established the Asian and the Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM) in Tehran with the focus on strengthening regional cooperation in DRR and promoting effective policies for inclusive, sustainable and resilient development in the region.
Dr. Akhtar emphasized that establishing APDIM and the regional conference in Tehran is just one example of support that countries receive to increase their resilience through targeted capacity development for disaster information management and knowledge sharing. The significant and increasing impacts of sand and dust storms affect a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to human health, productivity, agriculture, land, infrastructure and transport. Reducing the harmful impacts of sand and dust storms is essential to making progress on achieving the SDGs.
UNESCAP put forth a four track-strategy to create a regional cooperation mechanism for SDS mitigation and adaptation. The strategy proposes addressing the disaster drivers through a multiple-hazard approach, developing a sand and dust storms alert system. establishing an Asia-Pacific sand and dust storm network, and leveraging the APDIM for enhanced technical support.
Further information is available on UNESCAP website.