The themes to be addressed at the International Conference will include the following:
1. Global and regional trends of sand and dust storms (SDS) combined with a Ministerial dialogue.
2. Social, economic and environmental impact of SDS and their costs.
3. Observation, monitoring, prediction and early warning systems.
4. Policy options, technology innovation and investment opportunities, considering cross-sectoral integrated approaches.
5. Global, regional and cross-sectoral cooperation.
6. Conclusions and way forward.
· Sand and Dust Storms (SDS) usually occur when strong winds lift large amounts of sand and dust from bare, dry soils into the atmosphere.
· An estimated 2,000 million tons of dust is emitted into the atmosphere every year with significant consequences for social, economic and environmental well-being.
· SDS are the result of several inter-dependent factors, which span across several regional countries.
· Years of inappropriate farming practices, mismanagement of water resources and climate change continue to contribute to reduced vegetation coverage, desertification and droughts, which directly contribute to the growing regional dust-storm problem.
· Rising environmental degradation and increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, especially SDS, take an enormous toll on socio-economic life and human development across the region.
· SDS have damaging effects on human health, agricultural land, infrastructure and transport.
· SDS do not respect borders.
Among notable international resolutions on combating SDS that have been agreed to during recent years are:
· 21 December 2016 – United Nations General Assembly Resolution (UNGA) 71/219: Combating sand and dust storms.
· 27 May 2016 – United Nations Environment Assembly Resolution (UNEA) 2/21: Sand and dust storms.
· 19 May 2016 – United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) Resolution 72/7: Regional cooperation to combat sand and dust storms in Asia and the Pacific.
· 22 December 2015 – United Nations General Assembly Resolution (UNGA) 70/195: Combating sand and dust storms. This resolution called for a global assessment of the Sand and Dust Storms (resulting in the UNEP-WMO-UNCCD 2016 report).
In addition to the above, the Ankara Ministerial Declaration (2010) as well as its subsequent Action Plan created a solid basis for continued and possibly expanded cooperation.