Iran’s environmental issues discussed with ESCAP


Iranian authorities have drawn attention to the problem of water scarcity and the resulting sand and dust storm problems as the country’s most serious environmental challenges.

The issues were highlighted at a two-day meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific held in Tehran on January 30 and 31.

In a meeting with Shamshad Akhtar, UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Isa Kalantari, head of Iran’s Ministry of the Environment, noted that tackling the water problem was the key top priority for Iranian environmental authorities, ILNA reported.

Dust storms are the offshoots of the water scarcity and drought that have long prevailed in Iran, especially in the southern regions.

“Reforming water management strategies is the most effective solution to tackle the phenomenon,” Kalantari said, adding that efforts have been made to reduce water consumption.

The Regional High-Level Conference on Information Management for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience focused on regional cooperation to tackle sand and dust storms in Asia and the Pacific.

Sand and dust storms, land degradation, desertification and wind erosion represent a formidable challenge for sustainable development. About 2,000 billion tonnes of dust are emitted into the atmosphere each year, with the Asia-Pacific region contributing 27% of global emissions.

Disaster risks also exceed disaster resilience, and the gap is widening in countries with the weakest preparedness or response capacity.

Recognizing these challenges, ESCAP and the Iranian government on Tuesday signed an agreement to establish the Asia-Pacific Center for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM) in Tehran.

The center will strengthen regional cooperation in disaster risk reduction and promote effective policies for inclusive, sustainable and resilient development in the region.

Highlighting the cross-border hot spots of dust storms affecting Iran, including those in Iraq and Syria, and the rampant construction of dams in upstream countries which has exacerbated dust pollution in Iran, Kalantari said the He United Nations and its affiliated agencies play a key role in promoting regional cooperation. in this regard.

Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Baqer Nobakht also wanted the regional center to be an opportunity for better diplomacy to control common sources of sand and dust.

“Through APDIM, we will be able to take steps to mitigate cross-border sources,” he said.

A common problem

The UN Under-Secretary-General noted that sand and dust storms are common problems plaguing the Asia-Pacific region.

“For example, China and Mongolia are both affected by the phenomenon from a common source, the control of which requires knowledge sharing, close cooperation and adoption of interventionist policies,” she said. .

“The establishment of a mechanism for sharing information on sand and dust storms can be included as part of the Asia-Pacific cooperation.”

The ESCAP chief referred to water management as a solution to dust particle emissions, stressing that one of the best methods to optimize water consumption is recycling, especially in agriculture, and that Iran should take steps to use this technique.

Akhtar stressed that the sanctions imposed by the West were an obstacle to Iran’s recovery from environmental problems, stressing that a solution had to be found to this problem.

“Although ESCAP’s capacity is fully available for technical studies in this regard, it is essential to seek financial support from other organizations such as the World Bank to facilitate the process,” she said.

ESCAP conducted an analytical study that proposes a four-pronged strategy to launch a regional cooperation mechanism for sand and dust storm mitigation and adaptation.

The strategy calls for tackling effective factors through a multi-risk approach; develop a sand and dust storm warning system; establish an Asia-Pacific sand and dust storm network and leverage APDIM for increased technical support.

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