As the frequency and intensity of sand and dust storms continue to rise, and their transboundary nature becomes more prevalent, this issue is beginning to garner the much-needed attention it deserves. The devastation caused by such storms, which are largely attributed to land degradation and the impacts of climate change, was the focus of a ministerial segment and high-level dialogue hosted by the Government of Uzbekistan on Wednesday morning.
Speakers emphasized the impacts of sand and dust storms on education, health, trade, infrastructure, and the environment, and stressed that regional and international cooperation is the only way to address them, given they know no borders. Reflecting on his early encounters with sandstorms in the Sahel, Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, expressed his surprise at seeing snow covered with yellow dust in Europe. He said this underscores that no country is immune and that there is urgent need for a global action plan on sand and dust storms.
In the afternoon, the resumed CRIC plenary continued discussions on the four UNCCD policy frameworks, with a focus on land tenure and gender, with many highlighting the interlinkages between the two thematic issues.
The day ended with a discussion on the fourth UNCCD Strategic Objective, addressing how to generate global environmental benefits through effective implementation of the Convention. Delegates shared experiences and perspectives on the three reporting indicators: trends in carbon stocks above and below ground; trends in abundance and distribution of selected species; and proportion of important sites for terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity covered by protected areas, by ecosystem type. Some discussion ensued on the need for harmonizing data with other multilateral environmental agreements and the SDGs so as to reduce the reporting burden
The Government of Uzbekistan hosted a gala dinner in the evening with traditional Uzbek music and entertainment.