During the Project Development Consultation Workshop Dr. Asghar Mohammadi Fazel, president of the ECO Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ECO-IEST) delivered a statement on containing background status of the project on "Combating desertification with a special emphasis on dust haze and sand storm in the ECO region". The full text of this statement is as follows:
Esteemed delegations of Member States, UN agencies, observers, Secretariat colleagues;
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and honor for me and my colleagues in the ECO-IEST, to welcome you to Tehran to participate in the Project Development Consultation Workshop on "Combating desertification with a special emphasis on dust haze and sand storm in the ECO region".
You might be aware that the ECO Institute of Environmental Science and Technology was created in 2006 to strengthening the capacity of key actors in environmental conservation in the region, and promote exchange of information and experiences with efficient management of resources; through:
- Professional Training;
- Information Sharing and Technology;
- Scientific cooperation;
- Resource mobilization;
- Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA)
As you know the desertification is a global issue, with serious implications worldwide for biodiversity, eco-safety, poverty eradication, socio-economic stability and sustainable development. It manifests itself in many different forms across the vast region of Asia including ECO region.
Out of a total land area of 4.3 billion hectares, Asia contains some 1.7 billion hectares of arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid land, reaching from the Mediterranean coast to the shores of the Pacific. Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
ECO Member States are mainly located in arid or semi-arid areas and increased frequency and severity of droughts during the last few decades along with the problems due to development projects and population growth has worsened land degradation in several parts of the Region and intensified the problems of dust haze and sand storm which threatens the livelihood and welfare of millions of people all over the region.
To address this important need, the Regional Planning Council (RPC) held in Tehran, requested the ECO IEST to cooperate with the Secretariat in preparation of a Project proposal relating to combat desertification with a special emphasis on dust haze and sand storm in the region and also requested all Member States to contribute to the mentioned proposal with their possible technical and financial assistance.
Based on this mandate a project outline was proposed by the ECO-IEST and shared with the Senior Officials on Environment followed by the Ministerial Meeting held in Istanbul and we received following mandates:
- developing an umbrella project for the ECO region;
- considering possible funding mechanisms such as GEF;
- enhancing experience-sharing among Member States;
- need for strengthening regional approach;
- focus on capacity building and training activities.
It was suggested that the main goal of the project is to prevent, control and reverse desertification/ land degradation and mitigate the effects of drought through capacity building, establishing a framework for national and regional reporting and sound policies, programmes and measures, standard setting, advocacy and resource mobilization and poverty reduction.
The Project draft which you have received a couple of month ago is an enhanced proposal for an integrated regional platform for:
1.Establishing a framework for regional decision making, policy setting and reporting;
2.Promoting regional partnership for advocacy and resource mobilization with cooperation of international organizations.
I believe that this workshop would be an important starting step for beginning for further cooperation amongst ECO Members to accomplish their highest efforts to strengthen effective Dryland Conservation actions through comprehensive, coordinated and multi-sectoral approaches to find better solutions for shared concerns not only in the fields of biodiversity and ecosystem services, but also on the climate change mitigation and adaptation.
I also would like to emphasis that the enhanced project draft you have before you, is an important strategic move towards an initiative. So we should note that we do NOT need to negotiate the text but rather leading the Secretariat and the IEST to ensure a robust collaborative program of LandCare actions in the Member States and the ECO Region; even in the neighboring regions.
At the end, on behalf of my team, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to ECO Secretariat for the commendable efforts in supporting the process and convening this workshop. We also thank all delegations and participants for their kind attention and hope to have a very fruitful and successful workshop.
Thank you for your attention.