The Islamic Republic of Iran’s proposed resolution titled “Combatting Dust Storms” was approved unanimously at the second committee of the UN General Assembly.

The problem of dust storms which have in the recent years afflicted some countries is a big constraint and its spread has seriously affected the life of many inhabitants of countries. We have prepared a special program on this phenomenon as follows:

One of the most dangerous environmental threats inflicting some parts of the world especially in West Asi is the phenomenon of dust storms. The Phenomenon had harmful effects on socio-economic life as well as humans’ environment and threatens the health and comfort of people. Dust storms destroy the fertile lands and turn them into desert. Moreover, the phenomenon reduces economic growth and productivity of farming lands.

Dust storms comprise small and light particles which due to wind erosion and desertification are transported to very long distances by the wind. The wind takes particles to high altitude and since they are very light they remain suspended in the environment for a long time. Aerosols limit in accordance with international standards in cities is 240-260 micrograms per a cubic meter but the phenomenon increases the amount of dust storm and is sometimes even more than 15 times the standard level. Of course what increases the risk of dust storms is the type and chemical structure of the particles, for; when the particles synthesize with urban pollutions they are more harmful.

This phenomenon is detrimental especially for respiratory patients. Dust storms leave their adverse effects on plants. Dust sitting on the green parts of plants, reduces photosynthesis and thus reduces metabolism and plant growth. Furthermore, dust storms disrupt pollination of plants and decrease production of fruits and herbal products. Dust storms also inflict irreparable damage and somehow increase social expenses.

Certainly emergence of dust storms in many deserts and dry regions of the world is a natural phenomenon but in West Asia, several reasons cause the regional countries to suffer from this phenomenon. Iraq, Iran, Syria, Kuwait, Bahrain, Arabia, Turkey and the UAE are among these countries. According to experts, the main source of dust storms is the drying wetlands whose sand travels through wind from northern Iraq to other countries. The UN reports show that the major changes in Mesopotamia which has started from the 1950s and continued till the 21st century is among the reasons for increase of dust storm in this region. According to the report, the impounding of dams such as Ataturk Dam in Turkey has decreased the water of Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the Mesopotamian plain loses its moisture; a disaster which has caused a once-beautiful and flourishing wetland to turn into a vast desert and salty wasteland, measuring 500 thousand hectares. A desert and wasteland has increased more than 10 times the number of dust storms incidence from 2001 till now and the dust has made life difficult for millions of inhabitants of the region. Certainly the problem of dust storms is not restricted to West Asia only. In addition to the regional countries, East Asia, Australia, Africa and Latin America also face the problem.

For sure, dust storm is one of the most dangerous threats to the environment and if no remedy is thought for it, surely in the near future it will impose heavy health cost for the afflicted governments and since this problem is transnational, all governments should be involved and think of an option with the help of each other. The Islamic Republic of Iran is among the countries which endeavor to boost international cooperation for solving this problem. In this regard, a while ago in a meeting in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Iran's environment protection organization presented a draft resolution to the UN Environment Assembly UNEA and after talks of Iran's mission in New York it was approved unanimously at the second committee of the UN General Assembly on December 21, 2016.   

Iran's permanent ambassador to the UN Gholam Ali Khoshrou, regarding the importance of this issue said: approval of the resolution on combatting dust storms has made the problem a global one. Khoshrou said the problem of dust storms in the recent years has overshadowed the life of our people especially in western and southwestern regions of the country and has inflicted serious damage on their life and health.

Iran's UN envoy, regarding the goal of Iran's presentation of the resolution said: The Islamic Republic of Iran has pursued two general objectives by presenting this resolution. First, due to the lack of recognition of this phenomenon by other countries as well as regional and international organizations, Tehran has planned to introduce this environmental problem to them and show what grave impacts can dust storms have on people’s life. The second goal is related to the manner of confronting dust storms through regional and global cooperation. The problem of dust storms is a transnational phenomenon and to control and combat it local, regional and international cooperation among countries is essential and inevitable. Based on this, the approved resolution in different sectors has laid emphasis on the necessity of such cooperation for confronting the dust storms.

Iran’s UN envoy Khoshru added, as a result of the efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran, combating dust storms has been placed in a considerable number of international documents especially in the field of sustainable development and environment including ‘2030 agenda for sustainable development.’ In the past year, with Iran’s efforts, 4 resolutions were approved at the UN to combat dust storms. As a result, today there is a universal convergence for combatting dust storms and public awareness has been provoked towards the destructive impacts of dust storms and their harm on people’s life. In this regard, certain solutions have been predicted for boosting regional and international cooperation within the framework of the resolution. The necessity for taking instant measures against dust storms, regional and international cooperation for combatting this phenomenon and practical ways are among the solutions. Based on the resolution, all UN bodies have been assigned to place in their agenda combatting dust storms and countries as well as regional and global organs have been asked to implement the resolution content.

To fight the constraints resulting from dust storms, two urgent acts have been taken into consideration. First, an international conference for combatting dust storms with the cooperation of the UN and its affiliated bodies is scheduled to be held in early 2017 in Tehran. Second, the first high-ranking international meeting for combatting dust storms will soon be held at the UN General Assembly. In addition to studying the ways of tackling the social, economic and environmental impacts of dust storms, the goal of the conference is to adopt the required mechanisms to create international political coordination for countering the phenomenon. Various experiences have proved that resolving environmental issues is in need of regional and international cooperation and undoubtedly speeding up implementation of memoranda of understanding and the approved resolution can have effective role on the phenomenon of dust storms; a move which is essential for the health and survival of human society and biodiversity.

FK/RM/ME

Jan 09, 2017 09:00 UTC
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