The inaugural Arab Land Conference concluded with a declaration addressing the links between land, inclusivity, and peace.
The UN High-Level Regional Conference on Information Management for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience had a strong focus on regional cooperation to combat sand and dust storms.
February 2018: Two recent conferences brought together governments with other stakeholders to highlight the role of regional cooperation in overcoming challenges related to sustainable land management. In the Middle East, the inaugural Arab Land Conference took place from 27-28 February in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and concluded in a declaration addressing the links between land, inclusivity, and peace. Meanwhile, the UN High-Level Regional Conference on Information Management for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience, which convened from 30-31 January 2018 in Tehran, Iran, had a strong focus on combating sand and dust storms.
The Arab Land Conference aimed to facilitate knowledge exchange and regional cooperation, as well as develop capacities and innovation in land governance and real estate reform to promote social and economic development in the Arab region. The event brought together representatives from governments, the private sector, civil society, academia, and international and regional organizations. It was co-organized by the Dubai Land Department, the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the World Bank, the League of the Arab States, and the Arab Union of Surveyors.
Round-table sessions explored such topics as the collection of the land indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region, geospatial information management in support of the land agenda in Arab states, and capacity development initiatives for good land governance and “fit-for-purpose land administration.” Among other issues, participants debated the role of the state and the private sector in post-conflict reconstruction, noting the need to rebuild the social fabric of war-torn countries together with infrastructure to avoid planting the seeds of new conflicts. The discussions also highlighted the importance of paying greater attention to women’s land rights, and included a presentation of the GLTN report titled, ‘Women and Land in the Muslim World: Pathways to increase access to land for the realization of development, peace and human rights.’
In their final declaration, participants called on the region’s governments and other stakeholders to, inter alia: address land-related issues for the prevention and mitigation of violent conflicts, and for stabilization, reconstruction, and durable peace; protect and promote women’s land and property rights; enhance cooperation on the land governance and real estate sectors, building on successful models and lessons to bridge the gap between countries; and promote group rights for pastoralists and indigenous communities.
The High-level Regional Conference on Information Management for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Resilience also had a land focus, underscoring the challenges posed by sand and dust storms, along with drought, land degradation, desertification and wind erosion. According to data cited at the meeting, approximately two trillion tons of dust is emitted into the atmosphere each year, with the Asia-Pacific region contributing 27% to global emissions. The conference further noted that disaster risks are outpacing disaster resilience, and the gap is growing in the countries with the least capacity to prepare for or respond to disasters.
ESCAP presented a regional cooperation mechanism with a four-track strategy for mitigating and adapting to sand and dust storms.
In particular, the meeting noted that the “significant and increasing impacts” of sand and dust storms affect a range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to human health, productivity, agriculture, infrastructure and transport. It concluded, therefore, that reducing the harmful impacts of sand and dust storms will be essential to making progress on the SDGs. A study by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) presented at the meeting proposes a four-track strategy for a regional cooperation mechanism for mitigating and adapting to sand and dust storms: addressing the drivers through a multiple-hazard approach; developing a sand and dust storms alert system; establishing an Asia-Pacific sand and dust storm network, and leveraging the Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM) for enhanced technical support.
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Government of Iran signed an agreement to establish the APDIM in Tehran. The Centre will provide targeted capacity development for disaster information management and knowledge sharing, strengthen regional cooperation in DRR, and promote effective policies for inclusive, sustainable, and resilient development in the region. [GLTN Press Release on the Arab Land Conference] [The Dubai Declaration on Land Governance in the Arab States] [ESCAP Press Release on Tehran Conference] [UNCCD Press Release on Tehran Conference]