People, Environment

UN Body Approves Dust Storm Resolution

UN Body Approves Dust Storm ResolutionUN Body Approves Dust Storm Resolution

A resolution proposed by Iran and backed by Pakistan and Iraq that aims to enlist the aid of Middle East countries to tackle dust storms in the region was approved at the second UN Environment Assembly, Department of Environment chief Massoumeh Ebtekar said.

The assembly was held in the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya on May 23-27.

In a message to her 2,400 followers on her personal channel on the smartphone messaging application Telegram, Ebtekar said on Friday that the Iranian delegation’s main aim was to draw attention to dust and sand storms that have afflicted the entire Middle East.

During a brief visit to Tehran in April, the outgoing UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said the Global Environment Fund will provide financial aid to a joint effort by the DOE and UNEP to combat dust storms.

The government in Tehran has allocated between 600 billion to 1.2 trillion rials ($17.4 million - $34.8 million) in the next economic development plan (2016-21) to help alleviate the worsening dust storm crisis.

Massive dust storms frequently hit the western and southwestern regions of Iran, at times locking everyone indoors and filling emergency rooms with people complaining of breathing difficulties and other ailments.

Experts are of the opinion that most of the sources of dust storms, which have become more frequent and intense recently, are located in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria, but domestic sources, including the desiccated wetlands such as Hoor al-Azim in Khuzestan and Hamouns in Sistan-Baluchestan, have made a bad situation worse.

  Joint Action Plan

Iran signed a joint plan of action with the UNEP on the sidelines of the assembly on Friday to improve the quality of environmental research and help Tehran improve its management of chemical materials and hazardous waste. The document was signed by Ebtekar and Achim Steiner.

Steiner is to step down in June after a decade at the helm of the Nairobi-based organization. He will be succeeded by the former Norwegian environment minister, Erik Solheim.

Based on the action plan, two workshops open to regional UNEP member countries will be held in Iran. Furthermore, member states will share their experience in managing electronic waste, or e-waste, with Tehran.